Sharon Dean took a different path than many other foster parents. For years she worked as a foster care specialist in the OKDHS Developmental Disabilities Services Division, certifying homes and making sure each home was right for each child.
Now that she is retired from OKDHS, they call her “Momma Sharon” and she’s a foster parent to children with developmental disabilities. She has cared for seven children in the last seven years, some with significant health and behavior problems.
“If it’s really what you want to do, it’s nothing that you can’t handle,” says Dean. “You have to understand that you’re not going to change these children’s intellect or abilities, you’re going to have to change yourself if you’re going to do this. I have to say, okay, this is what I’m going to have to do to make this work.”
While she knows what a challenge being a foster parent can be, Dean also knows the rewards. “It means I have somebody to love. Hands on, every day. When she walks in the door she gives me a smile.”
“I tell you what, when I retired, I did not want to retire and do the things that old people do,” Dean says. I wanted to retire and still do the things that young people do. I love going to the fair. I love going to the movies, swimming at the Y and horseback riding. Young people keep you on your feet.”
Whether her foster child is swinging on her favorite swing, playing with the dog, or riding her bike, she knows Momma Sharon will be there.
“I want them all to know this. You can always come here and put your head down and rest. You can always eat. You can always have a good time. You can call me if you need me. If I can do it, I will.”