Kim and Dave Smith of Valrico have opened their hearts and home to foster children. Even though they have children of their own, they have always felt there is room for one more to love.
When the pandemic hit, the Smiths had to close their home, so to speak, because Kim has two autoimmune diseases and the couple’s foster child has severe asthma.
“I had been following COVID for a while since I’m a travel agent and it had been affecting travel plans for a while,” Kim said. “When school shut down in March for spring break, I had a feeling it wasn’t going to reopen.”
The couple decided it was best for the health of their family to cut everything off and stay in their home to be safe.
“We moved all of the boys’ therapies to telehealth appointments, except for our behavioral therapy,” Kim said. “Our family is very close with the boys’ behavioral therapists and we needed them to come and help with adjusting to their new normal and eLearning for school. So, we made sure masks are worn, shoes are removed before entering the house and we have a handwashing station set up outside by our front door to clean and sanitize before entering.”
The couple scaled the boys’ therapist team down from eight to four because of the pandemic.
Dave became the designated ‘runner’ for the family’s items that they couldn’t get delivered to the house. The couple’s teenage son, Zeke, used the culinary skills he was learning in school to help make the family’s meals.
“Zeke has become an awesome cook and baker,” Kim said. “He uses music to help him get through being stuck in the house. Before the pandemic, he started to learn how to play the guitar. He asked us for a keyboard so he can teach himself how to play the piano, which he started doing as well.”
Friends and family have helped the couple to try and keep things as ‘normal’ as possible.
“For the boys’ birthdays, we arranged to have a birthday parade go by the house,” Kim said. “We talked a lot to the boys about the virus and why things are the way they are now. For being 3 and 6 years old, they are adapting well. Their only real concern that they have is wanting to know if Mickey, Donald Duck and Santa are staying safe and virus-free, and we tell them, ‘Yes, they are all safe and they are wearing their masks too.’”