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May is Foster Care Awareness Month, and this is the 2nd article in our series.

By Margaret Nimmo Holland, Vice President of External Relations, enCircle

“It’s all new ground. We’re learning together.” That’s how enCircle Treatment Foster Parents Randall and Lanette Hall describe their journey fostering Taliah, a 13-year-old who identifies as a transgender girl. She was placed in their home by enCircle in March 2020, the day before schools and businesses locked down because of the pandemic.

EnCircle’s Treatment Foster Care (TFC) staff have been with the family every step of the way. The Halls feel grateful for the services wrapped around them, as they have helped Taliah settle into their home and into her own identity. EnCircle TFC staff are available for consultation, 24-hour crisis intervention, referrals to resources, and respite care for all families in the program.

Like other parents, the Halls have helped their child navigate the ups and downs of being in middle school and living through a pandemic. Unlike all parents, they have also leaned on enCircle staff and other supportive organizations to help them navigate the reactions to Taliah coming out as a transgender girl. There is the ongoing sting of making the girls’ track team at school and being allowed to practice, but not being allowed to compete in meets. But there are also achievements to celebrate, like finding success and acceptance through auditioning and being chosen for a local dance team.

Children in TFC have typically been in several homes or placements, are older, or have additional needs. A disproportionate number of teens in foster care identify as LGBTQ, many having been rejected by their families because of their identity. Like all people considering becoming foster parents, the Halls were excited but also had concerns. Would the child placed in their home be a fit? What they have learned, according to Randall, is that “you need to learn to accept whoever the child is.”

Part of being accepting of children in foster care is welcoming a diverse group of qualified foster parents. “We want everyone considering becoming a foster parent in the Richmond area to understand that we are an inclusive organization. Your experience as an LGBTQ adult could provide just the compassion and care that a child in foster care needs,” said Amy Barbour, TFC Program Manager at enCircle.

If you would like to learn more about enCircle or what is involved in becoming a Treatment Foster Parent, please visit enCircleAll.org. You can also reach out directly to Amy at .