She is now a senior at SUNY Plattsburgh and has “aged out” of the Foster Care Program, but she spends weekends at home with the Provosts, who have been her mom and dad for all those years.
“In the beginning, it was a little rough, going from two completely different environments,” Stephanie said of those early days when she and her sister, Markie, first arrived at the couple’s house.
“As the years went by, I got really close to my foster family, close enough to call them my family,” she added. “If I wouldn’t have been in foster care, I wouldn’t have the benefits I enjoy now. My mom and dad have given me the emotional and financial support to do all the things I’ve wanted to do. They’ve been 100 percent supportive of all the decisions I’ve made.”
Stephanie speaks or texts with her mom just about every day while she’s at school, she said.
The Provosts initially looked to foster care after having three daughters and were advised against having another biological child by their doctor.
“We wanted a son,” Becky recalled of those initial conversations to join foster care.
They adopted 4-month-old Antonio in 1998 after he first came to them as a foster child, and Antonio is now a permanent member of a household that welcomes children to share in their close-knit family.
“You treat (the foster children) just like you treat your own children,” she said. “We want them all to know that they have another family, even when they are reunited with their biological parents.”
The Essex County Department of Social Services provides foster care for any county residents in need of support.
“Essex County is a large, rural county with a small population,” said Cynthia Sparks Allwell of the Department of Social Services.