Superheroes often wear masks

By Leslie Holmes, Childhelp Foster Care Family Recruiter

Superheroes almost always wear masks. You know, Batman and his cowl; Superman’s alter-ego, Clark Kent, had his glasses and fedora. All of them have a masked disguise.

Superheroes now wear masks of another kind.

At Childhelp, we are not strangers to watching superheroes. We don’t take for granted the opportunity to see people step up as foster parents and walk with a child through their trauma to a point of healing. To that hurting child, there is no greater superhero.

We also are witness to the youngest of heroes as we watch children bravely overcome their trauma and abuse to embrace a life of love and joy. Honestly, it feels like we are the privileged ones to be a part of something so miraculous — so heroic.

Amber Martin, foster parent and health care worker

Lately, some of our foster parents have had to wear more than one kind of superhero mask. These foster parents are amazing not only at helping kids through their trauma, but also working as health care workers.

Daily they put themselves on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are grateful for their sacrifice … and for once again putting on their superhero mask. 


Amber Martin is a Childhelp superhero.

She works at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and she is fostering three kids who are now at home full time! Amber must risk exposure to COVID-19 on a daily basis.

She takes precautions.

She is careful.

But, all of that care doesn’t cure her worry that she could bring this virus home to her family. I asked Amber how she is handling all of this and taking care of her family as well. Here are her thoughts:

LH: What are you and those around you at work feeling right now?

AM: I feel this pressure on me. The hospital feels like a ghost town because people aren’t allowed to come in. I work in the NICU and parents can only come be with their baby one at a time. As soon as you walk in the hospital, you always wonder if there are people who will come in that day who are exposed to the virus. I cannot act like I am afraid of my patients. I have to continue to engage and make them feel comfortable.

All workers have to go through a screening process before entering. As I enter, I say a prayer each day for what might happen. We are always ready to deploy to another area of the hospital if necessary.

LH: What routine are you going through to protect yourself and those around you?

Amber: As I said, workers have a screening and questionnaire. We go through that, along with having our temperature taken before we even go inside the hospital. We wear gloves and masks at all times. If we touch something with our gloves, we change them. When I come home, I go from garage to laundry room. (Amber’s husband) Chris has Lysol waiting for me and I strip down in the laundry room and spray down everything that can’t go in the wash. I go straight to the shower and have to wait for hugs until I’m completely sanitized.

LH:  What is the hardest part for you concerning this pandemic, both as a health care worker and as a foster parent?

Amber: Getting used to this new normal. Trying to make sure the kids feel safe. Our younger one has really acted out because all of his routines have changed. I don’t want them to fear what is going on in the world. They already have enough fear and worry.

LH: If you could communicate any message to us “civilians,” what would it be?

Angela Gribanow taking extra precautions

Amber: Please stay home so we can go back to seeing smiling faces, not hidden by masks. And more importantly, so that children can have both parents with them in the hospital. I can’t imagine having a child in the hospital and being told I couldn’t visit. But safety for the children must come first!

Amber added that we are all in this together, and we have to have faith that God will get us through this.


Another longtime Childhelp foster parent, Angela Gribanow, offered similar advice.

Angela and her husband, John, both work in medical facilities where their exposure to the virus is greater. Angela has a cousin who passed away due to this virus and knows others who were infected but thankfully have since recovered. Angela advises to keep wearing masks, wash and sanitize your hands often, and don’t forget to sanitize things you touch often like car door handles.

While neither of these two ladies think of themselves as heroes, all of us at Childhelp would beg to differ. They have loved, protected, and provided for many children and now unselfishly love and serve the public using their medical skills at a time it is most needed.

We are grateful to you and appreciate your skills and service at this time. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Every wound healed. Every child, a home.

This blog originally appeared at Childhelp Foster Family Agency of E. TN, where Leslie often shares a look at the families that open their hearts and homes to children in need and the work of her incredible Childhelp team.