Richard and I became foster parents over four years ago. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Some of our friends were like “Why?”, but we knew that God was calling us to do this, and we had to trust in Him and do His work for His children. We were certified on a Wednesday, and by Friday, we had our first set of siblings––which was crazy, but we did it. We followed through to the very end (which we know for various reasons is not always the case in foster care), and decided to take a month off after the first set. However, after just two weeks, we were getting calls.
We were asked to take in twins and said “yes.” I asked if the twins had family and the caseworker said that they had an older sister who was going to be sent off to Abilene, Texas. I asked her why they were breaking them apart and she said because of the age group that we wanted to stay with. The caseworker told me she was 8 years old, but we only wanted to accept children up to 7 years old. I said, “No, we cannot break them up!!!” So she changed our certification that same day.
By noon we had a set of three siblings. I will never forget the day Lily walked in. Making sure her younger brother and sister were close, she asked me some questions, and I answered them. She then said, "What a lovely home." Trying to hold back the tears, I asked her if she would like to see her room––but she wanted to see her brother's room first. She said it was a really nice room and that her brother would love it because they did not have their own beds. Again, holding back the tears, I took the girls to their room, and she said, “This is for us?” I said “Yes!” She said to her sister, “We have our own beds, too! And look, our own pillows!" They both giggled with glee. Lily quickly asked if we had food and I said “YES! What would you like?” She said they had not eaten in a few days, and were tired, but anything would be fine. When becoming foster parents, they always tell you to make sure you have chicken nuggets, french fries, and lots of fruit. We got their meals started and asked them if they would like to take a shower. Lily said, "We are really tired. Can we please just go to sleep?" and they did.
"AFTER A REALLY HARD CASE, 27 months later, Lily has her forever family with us. We love her to pieces and she is our princess. We are so grateful to God that He chose us for her. It's been a roller coaster, but we made it, and Lily Grace Gutierrez is forever ours!"
After a really hard case and a very emotional day in court, one of the twins was able to be re-united with his bio mother the next day, we were given PMC over the other twin with the exception that if she wanted to go home that we would help her transition when she was ready. It was a very sad but happy day when we took her home, she was able to be re-united with her twin brother and be with her bio mother. We still get to see them once a month and are grateful for that. Their bio mom loves them very much and is working very hard to give them a healthy and good home. Lily was very happy for her brother and sister and was happy that they were able to be back home. Lily knew what was best for her and she showed so much strength through all that had happened.
We heard about the Love Box program through our placement agency, Starry. We decided to enroll in the program mainly for the moral support––someone to talk too. Our case manager, Kathleen, and Love Box leader, Courtney, were super nice and helpful. Kathleen was so bubbly and kind, and she made us feel so relaxed. Before the Love Box program, we had a support system, just not a very understanding one. Most of our friends thought we would retire and travel with them––not foster children at our age! Our Love Angel (that is what we call Courtney) is amazing. She is super kind and fun, and so helpful. She is a great woman with similar values and fits our family perfectly. She is truly a blessing.
A sweet moment with Courtney that stands out to me is a day when we were in court and had another child in our care. That same day CPS had found a home for him. Courtney not only came to help with his transition to a new home, she brought us dinner, dessert, flowers, and a kind gift basket to cheer us up. It was incredible.
Austin Angels has supported our family in so many ways––providing a listening ear, fun things to do, and helping with our vacations by providing passes for water parks, the aquarium (our children's favorite), and yummy ice cream––just so much. The help from others when you are in this journey with children from hard places is so amazing and helpful. We could not have wished for a better program.
- Velma, mom in Austin, TX
Click the video below to watch a video interview with Velma!