PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. -- Maintaining a child's identity through a relationship with that child’s birth parents is an important objective for foster parents.
May is National Foster Care Month and this year's theme is "Keeping Families Strong,” with a specific focus on that connection.
WTVR CBS 6 is partnering with JFS/Connecting Hearts to highlight the way members of both families can all work together to raise a child.
A family in Prince George is doing just that, many, many time over.
“I currently have foster children, and I will continue to foster until I have no more strength,” said Margie Rosas, who with her husband Pedro, has fostered more than a dozen children.
They have biological children as well, and adopted children, but their focus is always on foster children. And with every child they take in, a much brighter future emerges.
“The main goal for children is reunification,” said Margie Rosas, about the foster care process. “But sometimes, that is impossible. So that's when a child may be eligible for adoption. I love to see when a child comes into my home, and I see them flourish with all the services that you can give them. There's a lot of resources there to help our children and of course, the agencies help us with that.”
While Rosas maintains a household full of children and pets, she says in foster care, one key to a well-grounded child is to keep an open relationship with a child's birth family.
“The children have an identity, you know, and a sense of self, when they know about their past and their history,” Rosas explained. “And this helps them continue their journey as they mature and grow older.”
And for Rosas that means regular contact.
“I really respect the parents' opinions about raising their children, be it haircuts, or if it's an infant, what they would like me to do?” said Rosas. “Would they like [the child] to have a pacifier? How do you think they would sleep better? Is there certain music you would like me to play? I think all that is important because it makes the family feel that they're still part of raising their child.”
She says that helps the bond continue even after a child is reunited with his birth family.
Rosas says all of her children, which include three biological children in their early 40s, two adopted children, and the 14 she and Pedro have fostered over the last two decades, have learned to welcome each other as one large, extended family. A biological daughter even adopted a special needs child that Rosas had been fostering. So Rosas is now a grandmother to that child.
“They're their true siblings, you know,?” she said. “Two of them sleep in the same room as my other son. They play games. They get up in the morning, they help with homework. I have an adult child, who’s in Arizona and he'll call them on weekends just to check on them, see how they're doing. And then every Christmas I get that call from my son, ‘Mom, how many kids do we have now?’”
Rosas has a message for anyone considering growing their family through fostering: “I’ll tell them it's the toughest job you'll ever love. But I do, I love doing foster care, and it's so rewarding to see these children flourish and to know they have the support to continue their journey through life. It’s incredible.”
And if that weren't reward enough, she says there's more. “There's nothing better than those strong hugs and kisses these children give you, and how they look at you in awe every night before they go to bed. ‘I love you mommy, I love you mommy.’ I eat it all up. I love it.”
If you're interested in becoming a foster parent or learning more about the process, JFS/Connecting Hearts can help you get started. Click here to learn more.