ALPA Pilot Shares Foster Parent Experience

By ALPA's Family Assistance Working Group

National Foster Care Day, occurring on the first Tuesday of May every year, celebrates caregivers and the system that makes foster care possible. In foster care, children who do not have appropriate guardians are placed in a home or with private caregivers who function as state-appointed guardians, often on a short-term basis. To commemorate this day, ALPA member Capt. Jason Barton (Frontier Airlines) shared his family’s experience.

Capt. Jason Barton, Frontier Airlines Pilot

What is the best part about providing foster care?

The statistics about kids in foster care and eventual outcomes in jail and trafficking are heartbreaking. One of the greatest parts of fostering is helping to curb those numbers with the kids who come through our home. My wife and I know that these kids have been through a lot before they ever enter our home, so we try extra hard to make sure that they know they are a welcome member of our family and that we love them. It is very rewarding to see the kids open up to us and begin to accept that love. It is hard to put into words how challenging and rewarding fostering is, but it is definitely worth it. It is also rewarding to receive genuine gratitude from a mother or father who has lost their children to the foster care system. Many parents who have kids in foster care don’t want to lose their kids, and by partnering with them we can even make a positive impact on not only the children, but their parents as well. There are few ways that I think someone can give of themselves more than opening up their home to a stranger and loving them as if they are their own family.

What are some challenges of being a pilot and a foster care parent?

One of the big challenges of fostering as a pilot is when you are in between placements and waiting for a call. Kids come into care at all days and hours, and those calls don’t always come during business hours. Often they want an answer quickly, and if I’m flying then it can be challenging to figure out how to answer the call. We have decided that we won’t say yes to any placements without talking and praying about it first. Some of the biggest challenges are similar to the challenges of having your own kids. My wife is often left home alone to care for the kids, including feeding and changing diapers in the middle of the night. It can be exhausting for her, stressful for us, and guilt-inducing for me. It has helped that we both felt called to this as a couple before we started this journey.

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