Foster parents count their blessings

The Haughland family, from left to right: Irwin, Joel, Sharie, Dale, Nathan, Kathy and Ashlyn. - Kyra Low/The Mirror
The Haughland family, from left to right: Irwin, Joel, Sharie, Dale, Nathan, Kathy and Ashlyn.
— image credit: Kyra Low/The Mirror

It's chaos most days at the Haugland house — but Kathy and Irwin wouldn't have it any other way.

The Federal Way couple welcome the chaos that two biological boys, one fully adopted girl, one adopted boy, one almost adopted girl and one foster boy have brought to their home.

"We wanted more children, but decided not to give birth again," Kathy said. Both Kathy and Irwin are one of seven children themselves. "Private adoption was not financially feasible."

Kathy had a friend who was a social worker in Kent, and the family began the almost year-long process of becoming foster parents.

In 2007, on the same day that the Hauglands got their foster care license, they also got Sharie, now 9-years-old, and Dale, now 7-years-old, joining the couple's two sons who are now ages 10 and 7.

"They step-staired in," Kathy said of the kids and their ages. "They fit right in. It was interesting, though, that first night."

Both Sharie and Dale, who are brother and sister, had been in the foster care system for a while, along with their two younger siblings. This was to be their fifth foster home, but they had already been prepped that it was likely to be their "forever home."

Three weeks later, the call came for a young girl who needed a temporary home before she would be reunited with her parents. Her grandfather brought her to the Hauglands.

Ashlyn, now 5, has been with the Hauglands ever since. Her grandfather has helped in the process of the Hauglands adopting the little girl after reunification efforts failed.

"We feel very blessed," Kathy said of her family.

Also joining the family in fall 2008 was Bradshaw.

"There is still hope there for reunification," Kathy said.

Full house

So with a full house, what else would the family do? Adopt a dog, of course.

"We wanted something all the kids could claim as their own," Kathy said.

With six kids and a dog, there are challenges, including transportation. Their van will fit the family, but that's it.

"The biggest challenges is with the birth sons feeling displaced," Kathy said. "They are all finding their birth order. They don't always get along; it's nice those moments where they do. We are getting everyone to accept we're all in this forever."

Fostering is also Kathy's life outside of the home. She is a foster advocate, working with Fostering Together, which helps other foster parents or potential foster parents in the Kent, Federal Way and Auburn areas.

Her advice?

"Do your homework," Kathy said. "I used to think everyone could be a foster parent, then I wised up that it isn't for everyone. That's OK. You know if you were meant to do foster."

She also suggests that foster parents join a support group.

"Fostering can be a very solitary experience," she said. "It's nice to be with like-minded people."

The Hauglands will be honored this week for their work as foster parents. They were chosen to be honored for the Federal Way area at a fundraiser luncheon put on by Olive Crest Homes and Services for Abused Children.

Check it out

On May 14, Olive Crest Homes and Services for Abused Children will host a celebratory luncheon featuring an inspirational talk by foster and adoption expert Doug Sauder, author of "The One Factor." Sauder will also honor local foster parents from Auburn, Kent and Federal Way. “The Power of One Luncheon” will run 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Truitt Building, 102 W. Main St. in Auburn. The event marks National Foster Parent Appreciation Month. Tickets are $20 each, or $160 for a table of eight. Call (425) 462-1612, Ext. 1312 or visit

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