MEDFORD, Ore. – A local foster-mom has started an organization to support foster parents, called Geronimo Project.
According to the state of Oregon, on an average day around 7,000 Oregon children are in foster care.
“We have over 425 kids in Josephine county,” said Bonnie VanDusen, the founder of Geronimo Project and a foster parent, “the reality is, most foster parents that say ‘yes’ only keep their homes open for about a year because they get so drained mentally and physically.”
Bonnie and her husband spent years as foster parents, working to adopt their son.
“I really started noticing that we do not have a voice, we don’t have rights and I really wanted community education to see and be a part of that journey,” said Bonnie.
She started off by sharing inside-looks at the foster and adoption process as her family went through it.
“I would take a picture in a court and say this is what a TPR, which is ‘Termination of Parental Rights’ looks like or this is case planning,” explained Bonnie, “a lot of people think a kid comes into care and then they are automatically going up for adoption but our journey took almost 4 years.”
That raw inside look is what sparked the flame that created Geronimo Project, an entire organization focused on supporting foster parents while linking arms with other foster support organizations.
“I just wanted to provide a space to allow them to get training hours, to network with other members, and also to let other community resources like churches or Every Child or these people that want to walk alongside us, who also need to understand trauma and what saying yes means,” said Bonnie.
Geronimo Project holds monthly mixers in Grants Pass where foster parents, perspective foster parents and adoptive parents can meet and learn together.
“Space to come together, educate and show support for the people saying yes in our community,” said Bonnie.
Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, those monthly mixers are happening through virtual meet-ups over Facebook Live and Zoom.