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Croghan family shares foster-parenting experience

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CROGHAN — Nicole L. Lyndaker knew at a young age that she wanted to be a foster mother.

“I have a [step] mom,” Mrs. Lyndaker, 33, said. “I don’t know my birth mom very well. When I was younger she took that place and seeing how she took care of me — me not being her own biological daughter — I always knew I wanted to be a foster parent.”

Mrs. Lyndaker and her husband, Matthew D., live with their three biological daughters, Allyson M., Emma E. and Anna N., as well as four foster children, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Some may wonder if raising someone else’s children alongside her own three girls would make Mother’s Day any different. Mrs. Lyndaker says it makes things better.

“Like any holiday, to them this is a huge thing,” Mrs. Lyndaker said. “This is the first year that they have been counting down the days, all seven of them.”

Sunday marked Mrs. Lyndaker’s second Mother’s Day as a foster mom. “This is the one Mother’s Day that is definitely going to be one of the biggest I’ve ever had,” Mrs. Lyndaker said. “It ranks right up there with my first Mother’s Day.”

All her children made cards for her. Some were sweet, she said, others silly.

“One card said I’m a good egg maker and I’m an awesome clothes folder,” said the mother of seven, laughing. “Somebody wrote to me that I was unique, and a unanimous vote across the board was that they all love spaghetti and meatballs.”

The family spent the weekend visiting relatives.

Mr. Lyndaker admitted he was not thrilled about taking in foster children when his wife first suggested it. But he said that after seeing how many children were in need and what a foster parent could do for them, he gave in.

“I think the four children that we have — it’s been an adjustment,” said Mr. Lyndaker, whom all the children consider dad. “But they’re fitting in with the way we do things ... They’ve been more of a blessing than anything.”

Allyson, 12, said it took her longer to come around than her father. “When the two girls came I had my own room,” she said. “But when the boys came I had to share my own room and that was hard for me.” She recalled taking time to get used to the new children calling her mother “mom,” and said she sometimes would cry.

“You don’t see how much it affects your entire family until you’re in it,” Mrs. Lyndaker said. “But our girls have made huge sacrifices for these four children — and Matt and I.”

That is starting to change for Allyson, making this Mother’s Day extra special.

“Now it’s more fun,” the girl said. “There’s more people to play with outside and more people to talk to. You’re never bored, never sitting around.” She added that her younger sisters have warmed up to their extended family.

“We are a very close family, and nothing would separate us,” Allyson said. “You’re closer to your parents, in my opinion, and closer to your family.”

“There are so many kids in Lewis County and Jefferson County that are in need of good advocates — people that are there to support them, emotionally and mentally,” Mrs. Lyndaker said.

Children are put in foster care when their birth family or legal guardian cannot care for them for various reasons. The Lyndakers became foster parents through the Children’s Home of Jefferson County, which offers ongoing foster parent training.

The family said they are content with the four foster children, and probably will be unable to support more. But Mrs. Lyndaker encouraged the community to look into becoming a foster parent. It’s not always easy, she confessed, and she’s always busy. But the children are a part of her life as if they had always been her own.

Quoting Washington state blogger Jody Landers, she said, “Children born to another woman call me ‘Mom.’ The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”

To learn more about foster parenting, visit www.nnychildrenshome.com/foster-care.

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