Born the second oldest of a sibling group of ten children with the same mother and father, I quickly learned to take care of children at an early age. With excellent role modeling from my parents and my elementary school teachers, I knew I wanted to become a school teacher. I attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas, the city where I was born and raised, with a major in elementary education. After attending four years and moving to California where I landed a job in the banking institution with a salary a lot higher than school teachers, my dream of teaching never came to fruition, at least not with the school system. However; with my love for children, I worked with them in various roles in my local church and communities.
In 1984, I moved from California to Austin after the unfortunate death of my first husband. I worked with the banking institution for another five years and then obtained a job with the State of Texas. In 1990, I remarried and in 1998 with the support of my husband, I answered a call to become a foster parent after hearing a radio advertisement by the Bair Foundation, seeking Christian homes to foster hurting and abused children. After becoming a licensed foster parent in 1999 (23 years ago), I accepted a position as the administrative assistant to the Child Protective Services (CPS) Director for the State of Texas. Unfortunately for me, due to a conflict of interest, I was not able to start fostering. However; after working with CPS for three+ years, the CPS State Director who was my direct boss, gave me a waiver to foster before her retirement in 2003. After the process of reestablishing our license, my husband and I began fostering in 2005.
We fostered elementary-aged children who were around the same age as our younger two kids, of our three bio children. As our kids grew up and then out of the house, I began to foster teenagers. I currently foster three teenage boys. Initially, I thought, “who wants to foster teenagers in those odd adolescent years, smelling themselves, with all of their drama and attitudes,” However; for me, fostering teenagers has been my greatest joys – they’re way more independent, no more helping with homework and signing homework folders every night, no more temper tantrums. Can you imagine a 15-year-old sprawled out on the floor having a temper tantrum - LOL? In my journey of fostering, I adopted a 17-year-old who was placed with us at the age of 15 and is now 24 years old. I have strived to ensure that the kids I foster know that they belong and that they matter; and to have as much as a normal life and are allowed as many opportunities as my bio kids or as any kid should (e.g. camps, participation in sports, birthday parties, family vacations and other family celebrations and get togethers, etc.).
In 2017, I retired from the State of Texas after 26 years of service, which has allowed me more time to dedicate to fostering – and it’s still not enough time in the day! As I look back, I don’t know how I did it while working, except by the Grace of God. As an extension of fostering, and since I’ve retired, I became a member of the Seedling Foundation, an organization who mentors kids with a parent or parents who are incarcerated. I currently mentor a six-grade middle-schooler, who I eat lunch with at school every week during the school year. I also find myself continuing relationships with some of my previous kids who are now young adults, by providing encouragement and help as they need it.
Anyone who has ever fostered or have worked with parents who have fostered, knows the many, many, many challenges that comes with fostering, but with those challenges also comes rewards. I am thankful to God first, for allowing me the privilege of making a difference in the lives of the children I have served and for entrusting me with His kids, and placing that purpose and destiny in my life. I am thankful to my family, my three beautiful bio children who in essence, have fostered alongside me as they too gave of themselves, shared their parents and welcomed hurting children into our home, while all of us became more exposed to patience, tolerance and understanding. I am thankful to my extended family, who became mentors and role models and whom I was able to say "Here keep them for a weekend, I need a breather" - LOL. I'm also thankful to the team members who comes with almost every foster child; the child placing agency (CPA) and CPA case manager, CASA volunteers and supervisors, attorney ad litem, CPS worker, and therapists. Oh, along this journey I have definitely had my share of those who have placed foster parents in the same negative stereotype, but I think that stereotype is constantly changing for the better as it is becoming more apparent that there are good foster homes who genuinely care about the children and have the children’s best interests in mind.
In March 2020, I was honored to receive the Ron and Judy Winn Foster Parent of the Year Award by the Voices for Children – CASA of Brazos Valley.
In my 23 years of licenseship and 17 years of fostering, I have had 38 kids to come through my home, (which is really not that many considering the need). Maybe I will reach 40+ before it's all said and done. Aside from knowing that my kids have been exposed to Godly love, and know and feel the genuine love of a family, the greatest reward for me is to hear them say "when I become an adult, I want to foster..."