Gallery of Strength: Heidgen Family

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“Using My Experiences!”

“What works for 80-90 percent of your students might not work for children who have experienced trauma or were exposed to drug use in utero,” says Julie.

Julie’s experiences as a teacher and foster mom have given her the strength to support and advocate for foster parents, children, and fellow teachers. Now teaching at the collegiate level, she can use her experience and perspective to help teachers work with children in more effective ways. She can suggest different ways to effectively help and support children based on her experiences.

Julie is mother to four sons- Twin biological boys that are 6 years old and two sons adopted from foster care, ages 8 years old and 2 ½ years old. “At one point, we had three boys under 2 years old in the house!” laughed Julie.

Her first son was placed with her when he was only 4 weeks old. He was with her on and off for 4 months before staying with her full time. While he was in her care, she became pregnant with twins. When she had the opportunity to adopt, she took it. “He was already part of the family,” says Julie.

After a couple of years, Julie felt she had room at home for one more, which is how her fourth son came into her life and completed the family.

Julie’s advice to those considering foster care is that “It’s going to be easier than you think it is, but harder than you think it is. You’ll love the system and hate the system, because you’re so invested, things feel personal. You want what’s best for them. It’s a learning process. I also understand, that people considering foster care might be worried that they wouldn’t love a child that they didn’t give birth to. But that is most definitely not the case. You still kiss the boo boos and scare the monsters away in the same way. It makes your heart grow bigger.”

Written by: Monique Kuhns
Photo by: Angie Jungling