I grew up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father and a mother that generally worked two jobs to support my seven siblings and me. Since I was the second oldest of the children, it became my responsibility at a young age to help care for my younger siblings. This had a huge impact on who I am today. I did not do well in school because I didn’t have a lot of time to study. I did not have many friends because I came from the proverbial “other side of the tracks.” Both of these affected my self-esteem. I worked part-time in high school so I could help my parents with the bills.
As soon as I graduated from high school, I was hired by the U. S. Department of Justice as a clerk-typist. I am proud to say that after 37 years with the federal government, I retired as a GS-14, Special Assistant to the Director of the United States Marshals Service. This was possible because I had bosses who saw in me what I didn’t. They encouraged me to go to college and allowed me to work flexible hours so I could continue to take care of my three biological children and the over 200 hundred foster children who came into our lives. I graduated from George Mason University in 2004, Cum Laude with a degree in Government and International Politics.
We had three children when my husband and I were motivated to become foster parents. Our son was nine years old and our two daughters were six and four. We were leaving church when we happened to see an article on a bulletin board recruiting foster parents. We wanted our children to not take for granted their many blessings and the love and security in our home. During our 27 years as foster parents, we have seen it all. We have had babies, toddlers, grade school children, teenagers, pregnant teenagers, children with serious disabilities, and sibling groups. We even received a sibling group of three on December 23rd, two days before Christmas. We already had four foster children and with our three children that gave us 10 children. This was the best Christmas ever!
As I said earlier, my life as a child and my success as an adult made me motivated to help children in situations like mine. I want foster children to feel that they too can make something out of their lives and not dwell on the past but look forward to what lies ahead…never give up. In addition to keeping foster children, I also served as a foster parent co-trainer and in 2008 my husband and I were Foster Parents of the Year. In May of 2015, I was the keynote Speaker at the Arlington County Foster Parent Appreciation Dinner.