Venton and Rebecca Chaney try to keep their foster children connected with their biological families and cultures of origin. Biological parents and other family members are even invited to doctors’ appointments, Rebecca Chaney said.
“It is challenging because, as foster parents, you are trying to get that connection back” between a child and their family, Rebecca Chaney said.
The Owings couple were recently named the Calvert County Foster Parents of the Year by the county’s social services department.
Venton and Rebecca Chaney “stood out this year” as foster parents, said Calvert Social Services Director Amye Scrivener.
The Chaneys were selected out of 36 foster families in the county for their ability to work well with foster children and their biological parents and “doing pretty much everything” for the children, Scrivener said.
The Chaneys began fostering children in January 2001, when they took in their now adopted son, Michael Chaney, 20.
Michael was 7 when he came to live with Venton Chaney, a plumber, and Rebecca Chaney, who works for the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections. He was 9 when he was adopted, Rebecca Chaney said.
A few years later, the Chaneys adopted Sara, 10, after fostering her for about two years. Sara was 5 when she first came to the Chaneys and 7 when she was adopted.
The Department of Social Services “wanted to know if we wanted to stay activated [as foster parents after Sara’s adoption] . . . and we said yes,” Rebecca Chaney said.
The Chaneys were honored by the Calvert County commissioners in a proclamation May 21 and recognized by the Maryland State Department of Social Services during a thank-you dinner for all Calvert foster parents May 22.
“We do it because we love children and want to help the community,” Rebecca Chaney said.
“When you get them in your home and watch them change . . . it feels like you are doing something for them,” Venton Chaney said.
The Chaneys now care for four foster children, ages 10, 8, 7 and 3. The three oldest are siblings, Rebecca Chaney said.
Venton and Rebecca Chaney involved their adopted children in the fostering process because they both are former foster children, Rebecca Chaney said.
“Michael and Sara’s experience has helped the kids who come into our house. They are very helpful to our family,” she said.
Rebecca Chaney said she thinks the children in her care, whether fostered or adopted, need to be children.
“Seeing them have fun and enjoy life is priceless,” she said.
Calvert County Department of Social Services asks its foster parents to commit to a “family-centered approach,” and the Chaneys do it well, Scrivener said.
In addition to the Chaneys, many other foster parents help children in Calvert. However, “we always need” foster parents, Scrivener said.
The Chaneys said they realize fostering children can have its challenges, but they enjoy what they do.
“It is a very rewarding thing. You are really helping kids who are in need of a home,” Venton Chaney said. “My favorite part is, I love kids.”