Randolph Woman Has Love in Her Heart for Foster Care and Individuals

By Steve Sears

In 2007, Randolph resident Randy Bender felt something – or better yet, someone – was missing from her life.

“From the outside looking in, (life was) grand,” she recalls. “Doing fun things like renovation planning of a lakeside house, outings with a great group of friends, going to the city for shows, museums, and concerts.  Weekend trips to Vermont, the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard, entertaining at home.  There were vacations in Italy and France; hiking in Italy; biking in Provence.  And dating, in between, of course, always believing love was around the corner. However, the feeling that something was missing and that I needed someone in my house grew stronger and stronger.”  

That year Bender, 63, and cofounder and President of Denville’s Atlantic Coupon Service, looked to foster care. Although she had never been a parent, she did it minus hesitation. “I was incredibly involved with my niece and nephew as they were growing up.  Children tend to like me, and I adore them. I am not one of those single people who dislikes children.  I find them interesting and fun.” And, according to Bender, with fostering there is a support system that comes with each child that is the size of a small army. “You never feel out on a limb. There is a caseworker to call, and every professional imaginable is available to you and your child.”

Her first foster child was 17-year-old Victoria. “Fear did not enter my mind, until, that is, the night before Victoria was coming to stay at my home,” bender remembers. “Suddenly my mind was racing, and I could not sleep thinking what am I going to cook every night?  After all, I was used to eating dinners out with friends, or stopping at the sushi place on my way home from the gym.  What was my concern turned out to be my comfort, for Victoria loved food the way I do; food and meals became something we bonded over.”   

 In addition to Victoria, Bender also fostered two boys, and Victoria often called her “mom” and returned to stay with Bender while she attended college. “I became more trusting in love,” Bender says. “Victoria was so appreciative and respectful and has tremendous spunk. She liked spending time together and going on outings with me and did not cancel our plans to be with friends. Not only that, she has also never failed to show up for me when I faced some of life’s inevitable challenges. Her love and presence simply gave me so much strength.  What it made me realize about myself is that I could trust my judgement. My decisions were sound. I was good at this.”

“She (Victoria) will always be a part of my life. “ 

Bender took a break from fostering in 2015 and resumed it in 2019. She is now the legal guardian of Anastasia, who was 15 at the time and had lost her mom 7 years before. “Victoria and Anastasia are two different people.  Anastasia was younger and needed different things. Victoria paved the way for me to have the competency to successfully care for Anastasia.”  

Bender is passionate about spreading the message that it is fine to foster teens. “Both Victoria and Anastasia have brought such unimaginable joy to my life. This is something I want to share, to encourage and inspire others to do the same. I would also like to dispel the misconceptions about children in foster care, such as the belief they are delinquents, which is untrue. A child who is placed in foster care is there through no fault of their own. Anastasia and I have been asked to speak recently and as result we are open to people who are interested in knowing about our experience.”

Bender is open again to the possibility of future fostering. And for her, the word “mom” means honor and respect. “Mothers are revered and loved unconditionally,” she states. “Mom is your best friend through thick or thin. Mom is the one you call when you need comfort, and the first one you want to share your victories with. Mothers are the authority on anything and everything, as far as you are concerned.  If she hates brick houses, chances are you do too. Mothers are the one person who will do anything in the world for you, and you for her.”

Bender is happy to share her fostering experience with those who are considering it or would like to learn more. She can be reached at rsbender12@gmail.com.

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