(Posted 2021 November)
When I was 12 years old, my older sister and I entered into the foster care system. My mother had fallen on hard times and was no longer able to provide for the both of us. Even though I was only twelve, I understood that my mother was not a bad person, she just needed time to pick herself back up.
My sister and I were placed with a family of five: a couple and their three younger children. From the very beginning, our foster parents made efforts to partner with our biological parents. They communicated with our parents about our health and behaviors, checking in regularly with our mother through phone calls and visits. At the time, our mother worked two jobs so visits were more difficult, but our foster parents and mother tried to make visits as regular as possible. They prioritized our time together because it was in the best interest of my sister and I to maintain that relationship.
Our foster parents understood the importance of keeping a connection with our birth family and keeping a connection to our culture. Although they were not Hispanic or Latinx themselves, our foster family made a point to learn Spanish and even learned to make Spanish foods. They celebrated our Hispanic culture with us - together, as a family.
When I was 17, I asked my foster parents to adopt me. My sister and I had lived with them for nearly our entire foster care journey. After consideration, our foster parents decided that it was in our best interests to be adopted. I was able to maintain a positive relationship with my mother and had the full support and encouragement of my now-adoptive parents.
At the end of the day, I think that encouraging and supporting a strong and positive relationship with birth families keeps children in foster care connected with who they are and where they come from. My adoptive parents and mother now have a relationship in which they extend invitations to parties and graduations just to spend time together. My sister is living with our adoptive parents in Florida and we all talk regularly. I am now living with my mom and 4-month-old sister in Northern Virginia while I finish my college degree.
This article is by Monica Lizama Thompson.
This story was originally posted as part of the Virginia Department of Social Services’ series, The Real Stories of Foster & Adoptive Families, a compilation of the compelling anecdotes from foster families across the state of Virginia. These Virginians share the true stories of how families were started, reunited and strengthened through foster care and adoption. Check out more Real Stories like this.
This article posting is part of the Foster Family News monthly newsletter designed to keep foster parents informed about all the new and notable happenings in Fairfax County.
Learn about what the Foster Care and Adoption program has planned for foster families - stay on top of trends, participate in trainings and learn about policy changes.