The word home for many of us invokes warm feelings. It is our place of solace and refuge after a long day and the place we know we can always return to.
But for almost 19,000 foster children in Arizona, home is a very different place. For these children, home is likely a place where they were neglected, physically abused or forced to listen to and see things they should never have. For those taken away, home can be a loving foster home, a not so loving foster home, family members, or, in the worst case scenario, a group home.
Almost three years ago, my husband, daughter and I decided we were going to help my beloved home state and the growing crisis by becoming a foster family. We couldn’t watch the news and read about the children sleeping in DCS offices anymore. The decision was not an easy one but it will forever be the right one.
I will never forget the day little C arrived at our door. It was only three days after we became licensed when we got the call for a 4-year-old little girl. We said yes without hesitation. She arrived on a rainy evening, and as we approached her, she turned around, smiled and happily chirped her name. As she toured the house and her new room, with her eyes big, she exclaimed “it’s perfect.”
With the smiles, came many tears. C missed her mom, dad and her five siblings so much. She struggled to find a way to love us and her family. She had regular visits with them and would come back to us in a whirlwind of emotion but we assured her that her heart was big enough for everyone.
We knew our time with our little monkey was limited as she was going to live with a family member soon. We made the best of every day. We were able to give her so many firsts: her first time in preschool, first visit to the zoo and one of the best memories, her first trip to the beach.
The day we said our goodbyes was not an easy one. For five months I had loved and taken care of this little girl as my own. As I kneeled down, we said our thing, “C, where do I live now?” “In my heart.” “C, Where do you live now?” “In your heart,” she said as she put her hand over my heart. As I watched her skip away to play with her siblings, I hoped that she would always remember us and the place she called home for awhile.
There are so many children in the Valley that need loving homes. If you are considering becoming a foster parent or want to know how you can help, please visit Dcs.az.gov.