Archive for Monday, September 11, 1995

WHEN IT COMES TO TEENS

September 11, 1995

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Greydon and Nancy Walker, whose foster children include teen-agers, try to "think young."

It won't be long before a red and black 1956 Chevrolet station wagon named Tobias will take to the streets of Lawrence.

Greydon and Nancy Walker, along with their children, will pile inside for family excursions and errands.

With all family members helping, it won't be long before the car is restored and ready for the road. It has been the family's project since they bought the car from a man in Canada.

Greydon and Nancy were looking for a car to serve their big family. Greydon has two daughters, Cassie, 10 and Megan, 8, who live with the Walkers part time. In addition, the family cares for a long-term foster daughter, 17, who has been with the Walkers for two years, plus a 10-year-old foster son and another foster daughter who's 9.

It was probably the couple's generosity and willingness to compromise that spurred the Social and Rehabilitation Services to name the Walkers Foster Parents of the Year. This year, the award was given to two sets of parents in Lawrence.

The foster program is desperate for good parents, said Greydon, who works in the local juvenile detention center and understands the needs of many teens who are experiencing family problems. The Walkers are licensed to care for children 6 years old and older, which makes theirs one of the few homes that welcomes teen-agers.

"Nothing freaks us out here," Nancy said. "I'm real open, and I'll answer any question they want to ask.

"But I also know the kinds of things teen-agers try to pull on their parents."

The Walkers said they try to think young so they can relate to the teens who come in and out of their lives. More than 20 youngsters have lived with the Walkers in the past year.

After five years of marriage and five years of foster parenting, the two Lawrence natives don't have any complaints.

"Kids are adaptable," Nancy said. "They come in here and there really isn't that much of an adjustment period."

At their home, you may find teen-agers lying on the couch watching television or quarreling about who's going to sleep on the floor -- a lot like any other household in Lawrence.

And what makes it even more like a real family for the foster children is their new grandparents. Even though most of the foster children don't feel comfortable calling Nancy and Greydon "Mom" and "Dad," Nancy's parents are always "Grandma" and "Grandpa" to the children.

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