Rachel Marie Cowan’s family (Left to Right): Gracie, Destiney, Karson, Aniyah, Jazmine, Josiah, Henry (Missing: Jocelyn, Sebastien & Dj)
Rachel Marie Cowan
Kind-Hearted Humanitarian & Hero Mom
Sometimes you just need to look “in your own proverbially backyard” to find a hero. That brings us to one of our veteran contributors, Rachel Marie Cowan. Besides being a soulful writer, she is seemingly a superwoman who – while working full time, raising her own two children, and at the same time fostering four others – was able to get an M.S. in Behavioral Analysis.
She is currently legally responsible for eight children (with, as she puts it, “two tag alongs”). Let that sink in for a minute. During this pandemic, Rachel Marie has created a large family that she is taking care of.
Rachel Marie wrote this beautiful story about one of her charges.
Now, this is the story all about love,
My love got flipped-turned love-side out
And I’d like to write a minute
Just read right there
I’ll tell you how I live my life, with nine kids, in a town with some flair.
So, the other day while cruising home under the warm sun, a song came on the radio. I do not know the name of the song or artist but the words I can’t shake. It rattled my heart like a car speeding through the intersection just missing the tip of my vehicle.
“I was starting to get used to your love.” Those words paused my heart. The imagery of that line took me to spaces in my mind I haven’t visited in a while.
I’ve been happily divorced for almost ten years and now that I have collected nine kids, my dating life could rock a size zero. In the past, my love came from outside sources. The problem of having an outside source for love is the source can run dry for a million reasons. If you are reading this, you probably have experienced “a love” running out just as you were getting used to it being there.
There is nothing quite like the quick cold blow of love leaving, just when you were settling into its warmth.
I started fostering in 2015 and at about the same time God started working in my heart about fostering an environment of love, not only for these kiddos who are in desperate spaces but also for myself. I began looking for ways to meet them, to meet myself with love. Essentially creating spaces for self-celebration and thankfulness to The Creator.
Too many times, too many days were caught up depending on love I found, vs. love I had.
I had one young lady who ran away from all of her many foster placements. My home would soon be like the others. She was what you called a “hard to place teen” but I was up for the challenge. We were off to a great start, had a mutual understanding of the rules… week two, out the window she went.
The next day hoping she would return, I felt led to hang her school picture in the hall, just in case… and a few hours later she tiptoed in.
I peeked around the corner of what felt like the longest wall and then I saw her star gazing at her own photo. I stepped out and she turned towards me sobbing uncontrollably and said: “I’ve never had my picture on a wall.”
Then I met her where she was and wrapped her in my arms, and reminded her she was loved, but the love would never matter until she loved herself. (I also encouraged her to use the door.)
Our life together has created many moments to grow individually, grow in love for ourselves, each other and the One who created us.
Intentionally fostering an environment for love where people can grow in the ability to be loved, and to love themselves is simply powerful.
I am telling this story because we have all had or will have moments like this. Moments where we run, and we realize we cannot outrun ourselves.
Then we come back to the place where we felt safe only to find upon our return that in this place someone has lifted us up in prayer, in love, in hopes of our return. The Creator and those who love us, see us in our beauty, even in the midst of our mess.
Now this was a story all about love
My love life got flipped-turned outside in
And I’d like to end this story
Just we aren’t nearly there
I’ll continue to share how I live my life with nine kids and throw in some flair.
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Hero Mom Rachel Marie on
Family Life, Fostering Children, Mentoring and Adoption
When did you start fostering children? What was the inspiration?
I’ve had added kids living with me for about 7 years, got licensed 5 years ago.
Do you work with a specific foster organization?
Youth for change, here in Oroville. I met most my kiddos at The Axiom which is a student center in Oroville that “builds platforms of success”. I worked there for 5 years, honestly needed to quit because i ran out of space to put children ????
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What was the hardest part of getting started fostering children?
The hardest part of getting started was the fear of what I would encounter and what I could possibly expose my children too. Being adopted I honestly didn’t want to be on the other side, but these kids just kept showing up in the most heartbreaking situations and when I looked at them I saw myself and can’t imagine what my life would be like if my mom hadn’t rescued me. She’s my hero.
What is a typical day like for you? What is it like during a pandemic?
The pandemic. Outside of feeling bipolar, it’s fine. One moment I’m killing it, they are killing it and the next one kid googled their symptoms and is dying, another got dumped, another finished watching their favorite show and now is crying on the floor because their reason for living ended with the last episode.
Then there are really real moments where they are in tears because school was a place they excelled and distance learning made them insecure. My first born graduated this year, along with Jazmine & Jocelyn. They missed so much. Josiah in particular spent many days sitting alone in his room with the lights off. Henry has a learning disability and worked so hard in school already, adding this to the equation was it’s own pandemic. Dj is 5, what more do I have to say about living through the end of the world in an 1800 square foot house with a hyper active 5 year old.
Most of these kids have experienced so much trauma that this pandemic was deeply felt. However we have all pulled together and as often as I think I hate this year, there are so many moments of beauty to be celebrated. I wish I had time to list them.
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What is your greatest achievement/what are you most proud of?
Greatest achievement – My birth mom didn’t pass a 3rd grade education, so to be finishing my Masters is pretty big. I think she would be proud, my birth father was murdered but I think he’d be proud too. But honestly I think for myself it would be times that I see my kids extending grace and compassion to others. I’m so proud of who they are becoming, and proud of who I’m becoming with them too.
What have you learned about yourself by fostering children and adoption?
I’ve learned so so much, how to Dougie*, that I have my own trauma that affects how I see the world around me. I’ve learned I’m not perfect ???? that it’s ok to jump before you think you are ready, and to fight fear like hell. I’ve learned that delegating is powerful, HOW TO ASK FOR HELP, the power of no, I could go on and on.
*The Dougie is a hip-hop dance generally performed by moving one’s body in a shimmy style and passing a hand through or near the hair on one’s own head. —Wikipedia
How can others get more involved?
Become a mentor, foster, adopt, be educated, donate to organizations, find out who’s doing what in your community and volunteer. One of my friend dropped off a $100 gift card for dinner. It’s expensive raising kids. That night we went out to a nice dinner and that was more than a free meal, it was time together, sharing, laughing making memories she gave us so much more than an dinner. And if you could believe this, we over spent the gift card and I went to pay and someone had put $50 towards our tab just because. People can help by looking to be a blessing, opportunities will present themselves.
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Do you have any advice for people who are considering adoption, becoming a foster parent or mentor to children in need?
Beloved Reader, this is not for the faint of heart. If you decide to foster/mentor/adopt (all the hands on stuff), here are my tips:
Tip #1: Build a community around those children, the social workers are over-worked.
Tip #2: Set clear boundaries, stick to your “no” if it’s a placement you don’t have peace about don’t take them.
Tip #3: Trust your gut and self care like a boss.
What are you reading?
Stamped From The Beginning – Ibram X Kendi, Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson & White Fragility – Robin Diangelo and just joined a book club, The Innate Power Of The Black Woman – Azhar Barca-EL
What’s on your go to playlist?
Go to play list depending on the day Lauren Hill, Drake, Lauren Diegle.
Pie, Cake or Ice Cream?
All of them! (sweet potato pie cheesecake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). But don’t tell my kids. I’m on a diet ????
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At a time when so much is going on in the world, it is beautiful to see someone creating a real, bright future for a group of kids.
Rachel, you are truly helping others and a Hero Mom!
Thank you, Rachel Marie, for sharing a glimpse into your incredible life!
Rachel Marie with her beautiful nine children on adoption day.
Rachel Marie is an amazing writer and humanitarian who got her M.S. of Behavioral Analysis while working full time, raising her two children, and fostering four children on her own. She lives in Oroville, CA. After the 2018 Paradise Camp Fire personally affected her family and community, she volunteered at the Butte County Distribution Hub, Oroville Hope Center to help serve the community. Ultimately she made a leap of faith, leaving her secure job at the Court House, and followed her heart to become the Executive Director of Disaster Relief. She believes we can all make a little room, that the more you give, the more you are given – and her life is proof of this.
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