Barry Farmer didn’t have the easiest childhood, but it was an experience that made him who he is today – a dad to three boys. When Farmer was just a toddler, he and his three sisters went into “kinship care,” a form of foster care where relatives or friends take care of someone’s children.
“I was going from home to home, living with friends of my parents. And that wasn’t stable,” Farmer told CBS News. He then lived with his aunt, followed by a foster home. When Farmer was four years old, something happened that would change his life forever: He moved in with his grandmother.
It was initially a tough transition for Farmer and his “empty nester” grandmother. “It was difficult to leave my sister and aunt, who I knew for some time, to my grandmother’s, who I just met,” he said. At his grandmother’s house he had neighborhood friends, a good school and a sense of community. That stability turned out to be incredibly beneficial to Farmer.
“Me losing my parents, I gained a whole village of support. My grandmother doing that inspired me to become a foster parent, too,” Farmer said.
When he was just 20 years old, he saw an ad about how to become a foster parent. “A year after getting licensed, I got my first case,” he said.
Farmer said social workers were reluctant to assign him cases since he was so young, but he finally got his first child. A boy around the age of 16 moved into his Richmond, Virginia, home. “He was more like a little brother, more than a foster son,” Farmer said. Still, he let the boy call him dad because “he needed that father-son type of thing.”
About a month after that child moved out, Farmer received another case. “I didn’t know he was supposed to be white, no one at the agency did. I was very surprised he was white, I had never worked with white children,” Farmer said. It was hard for him to wrap his head around it because he realized there would be cultural differences between himself and his new “son.”
Read the rest at cbsnews.com.