Hello Happy Mama: Davi Erickson Stands up for Local Children in Foster Care, Raises her Family Determined to Succeed in New Ways
by Callie Collins
by Callie Collins
Oct 26, 2022
Davi’s four boys and four girls are Finn, 19, Calvin, 17, Ollie, 15, Twain, 13, Dovie, 7, Jessie, 6, Birdie, 4, and Lemon, 3. The family’s busy household dynamic features all the hallmarks of childhood. Davi embraces the challenge of meeting everyone’s needs, through varied ages and stages.
Davi, who is originally from the Santa Clarita area, works part-time. She holds a master's degree in chemistry from California State University, Fullerton. Accompanied by her four sons, she has been involved with the foster care system for eight years, since Twain was 5, with many young children passing through her door.
“Year in and year out, babies came and went,” she explained, a common occurrence as children in foster care find safety and temporary resources before meeting the ultimate goal of reunifying with their parents, relatives or other guardians.
Kern County averages about 2,000 children in foster care per year. According to the Kern County Department of Human Services’ most recent public Child Welfare Services statistics, the number of children who came into the system increased 26% from June 2021 to June 2022.
Neglect, abuse and caregiver absence are among the many reasons children need interventions that make out-of-home care critical as the adults in their lives work to make positive changes, as safety is always the top priority for children’s wellbeing. Adoption from foster care only happens in the event all other alternatives have been exhausted.
“Foster care has so many aspects that are absolutely out of your control. I recommend finding something within your control, like getting into shape, doing yoga or finding a particular interest because it is not up to you what happens in each case,” said Davi.
All children in foster care experience trauma, in part because of the separation from biological family members, which is in itself an adverse childhood experience (ACE). ACEs, which describe traumatizing events from birth to age 17, include exposure to situations like caregiver mental illness, domestic violence, exploitation and abuse, in addition to many other negative situations. ACEs trigger chronic stress, which impacts children’s brain development and immune system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) correlate ACEs with future health outcomes, perpetration of victimization or violence and access to opportunity. “Up to 1.9 million heart disease cases and 21 million depression cases could have been potentially avoided” by mitigating ACEs in young lives, the CDC reports.
“Trauma is always there whether you see it or not, just under the surface. It is a heavy thing. There can be PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder]. There are unexpected behaviors that come up, especially because it’s not your household’s life and it’s not your genetics, so there can be mood disorders, ADHD, exposure to substances,” explained Davi. “Adoption does not erase the trauma and it never will but we are moving forward to a new life together. Adoption from foster is beauty from ashes. In my girls, I see a phoenix rising as we work together on a path of life.”
From therapies and assessments to family visitation and court dates, Davi has worked through the many aspects of foster care. Although her older daughters were temporarily reunited with a biological parent, the situation changed and they were returned to Davi, who by then had her younger daughters at home. She adopted all four on Feb. 4.
“The court deemed us a family and here we are,” said Davi.
While Finn has moved on to college, his siblings are involved with a local charter school. Art and music are part of the family’s life, and the girls will be starting ballet classes soon. Through the daily dynamics of it all, family is everything. Finn has already expressed interest in the possibility of fostering and adopting one day, which Davi heralds as the possibility of how our society’s focus changes from material priorities of always wanting the fanciest homes and cars to caring for and about one another.
Davi isn’t opposed to the idea of fostering more children in the future but recognizes she is in a good place, always in good company, at present. Her focus is the children’s future, which is bright when caring adults make a difference, one child at a time.
3 QUESTIONS WITH DAVI:
Q. What message do you have for people considering becoming foster parents?
A. I hear from people all the time ‘Oh, I could never do that. I would get too attached.’ Getting attached and forming a positive bond is what children need most for their brains to form healthy attachments and carry that through life. Otherwise, they will likely never feel comfortable with healthy relationships.If we don’t step up, who will? The goal of foster care is always reunification. The goal is to keep children safe and be supportive of parents, form a bond with them and cheer them on, all which might be circumstances that never happened in their early childhood either. National statistics show that about 50% of children in foster care end up incarcerated at some point in their lives. Do we want to keep doing that or do we want to make change happen for our communities?
Q. What do you say to people who don’t feel ready to be foster parents?
A. I understand not everyone feels ready but these kids didn't feel ready to lose their home either. The most important thing is to make sure you are emotionally stable enough to handle it. Kids at ages 2, 3, 4, 5 and throughout childhood don’t have the emotional capacity to move forward without support. I never paint it as a rosy picture. It is not about guilting people. If you do not want it with a passion, it will be too difficult. Everything in foster care is emotionally charged. I tell the beautiful and the hard. There are so many ways to get involved in foster care without being a foster parent. You can be a supporter through an agency like Bakersfield Angels with a love box of donated items or a mentor to help change the fact that 50% of foster parents lose their foster home within the first year due to lack of support.
Q. What is your parenting PSA?
A. Just because you have a messy, traumatic life doesn't mean it cannot be beautiful. My children are not victims. They are going to shine and have a wonderful life with art, dance, drama and whatever they want. Our job as parents is to water them so they'll bloom. More generally, everyone wants what is best for their children. Sometimes, the best route for them is off the beaten path. Take a child-led approach. Children should be able to pursue their passions, not yours. We are here to support who they are.What the world values is not as important as what we should be valuing. Take some time out and slow down your life so it's manageable for you. The time with our children goes so fast. With one in college, I can tell you, you don't have as much time as you think. Every second is a gift. One day, they'll fly away and you won't know where the time went. Make every moment count. You will wish you had them back.
Everything you poured into them, they'll fly back to you with later. My dream is Sunday dinner with my children and grandchildren. Every person should have a core group of people who care no matter what. When your children come home from school, look them in the eye, take interest in them and mean it.