Faces in the Crowd: Paula Culver
Friends refer to her as an angel on earth for all she does to support children in need.
SPEARFISH, S.D. – The home of Paula and Dave Culver has not only been a place to raise their own six children but also around 100 others through the foster care program in South Dakota. They have been foster parents for 18 years, leaving a legacy of love.
Paula describes foster care as a calling – to live a life to help others selflessly.
Paula says, “I knew this was what I wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be a mom, and so it was just a natural and easy thing to just pick up and have other children coming to our home. So, it was something we had to make sure our kids were really in agreement with. We were grateful that they were on board with us and willing to step up and to do it with us.”
The foster children stay from days, weeks, month to years with the Culvers. Two children in particular who came to them as babies were Molly and Sebastian who are half brother and sister. They both have fetal alcohol syndrome. There future did not look promising until the Culvers adopted them both; they are now 11 and 7 years old and flourishing.
Paula credits their success to the quality time spent with them, lots of love and the gift of reading.
She does admit foster care has challenges, but they are minimal in comparison to the benefits.
“You know people often say ‘well thank you for what you do for these kids’, no, they give us way more than what we will ever give them, so we are the ones that are really blessed,” says Paula.
For children in foster care, the end result aims to reunify them with their biological parents. Paula believes that building a relationship and mentoring the birth parents might help them long term to be a support system that maybe they never had.
“So that’s what we want to be for them, and we count it a privilege to be able to be involved in their lives,” says Paula.
If you’re not interested in being a foster parent, but would like to help, Paula says supporting foster families by just buying them diapers or providing a meal can make a difference.
“Especially statewide, we really do have a need for foster parents,” says Paula, “Is it one of the hardest things you’ll ever do? Yes, but is it one of the greatest things you’ll ever do? Yes. And I do also realize it is not for everybody, but then that’s where you go ‘but what can I do?’”
One of Paula’s daughters, Alesha, thinks her mother set the bar high and it’s a constant inspiration for her.
Alesha says, “God wants us to leave a legacy, and that is what my parents are doing and we saw that a young age … to know that there are all these kids out there that have been impacted. That even if it was just for a few days, that they were here in this home – there is an eternal impact. It’s an amazing experience that we wouldn’t trade.”
Paula says she will never move so that way any child she has fostered can always come back to visit.
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