Lara and David Bronson*, who are parents to 14-year-old Dylan and 17-year-old Myla, thought they might like to be foster parents … someday. Maybe when their son and daughter were out of the house. But someday came much sooner than the Bronsons ever expected!
Since kindergarten, Dylan had been friends with a boy named Cory. Lara thought it was a little odd that Cory never came to any of Dylan’s birthday parties. Whenever Lara saw Cory at school or around town, he would ask about Lara’s three cats, though he had never been to the house to meet them.
The Bronsons did not know that Cory was hiding a dark secret. Cory and his older brother, Mason, were being abused by their father. Cory was his father’s main target. Desperate, Mason bought Cory a stun gun to defend himself. School personnel learned about the abuse and the stun gun, and both boys went into the child welfare system.
Dylan choked back tears as he told his mom that Cory was in foster care. After her shock and horror lessened, Lara thought, “I guess I’m going to be a foster parent earlier than I imagined.” David agreed, and they began classes at Wayfinder to become certified foster parents.
Before the Bronsons had completed all the approval steps, Lara got a call from a social worker at child protective services. Instead of being with a family, Cory and Mason had been placed in a group home—and it wasn’t working out. The social worker asked if Lara and David could take the boys as an emergency placement. Her heart breaking for Cory and Mason, Lara said she would love to welcome them into the family.
That night, the county social worker drove the traumatized boys to Bronson house. But never having been there, they did not recognize it. Frightened about what might lay ahead, Cory and Mason refused to get out of the car. The social worker phoned Lara and asked her to come outside. Lara emerged and said to Cory, “You’ll finally get to meet the cats!”
When the boys realized they were going to live with the Bronsons, Lara recalls, “I heard a scream of pure joy like I had never heard before.” The boys’ relief was palpable. “I could see things changing for the better right then,” Mason says.
Cory and Dylan were ecstatic to become brothers. Myla and Mason, who are the same age, connected well. But the road was not always smooth. David and Lara leaned heavily on their Wayfinder social workers, Regina and Hannah, for support when the boys’ trauma surfaced.
For the first few weeks, Mason stayed in his room, trying to process what had happened to him and his brother. Lara and David gave him space. Because the abuse had made him feel worthless, Cory began experiencing suicidal ideation. Lara and David did not leave him alone for even one minute. For his safety, Regina and the Bronsons decided Cory needed care at a mental health facility. Regina stayed with Cory at the facility for the first 12 hours while Lara and David rested after the ordeal. Cory began learning how to cope with his negative thoughts, and gradually, Lara and David helped Mason and Cory heal.
Later, during a home visit, Wayfinder social worker Hannah asked Cory how things were going. He gestured toward Lara and said, “You see our mom over there? She’s amazing!”
One day, David asked Mason what he wanted to be when he grows up. He was floored because no one had ever asked him this! Mason realized he could plan for the future now—in a loving, supportive family.
Lara and David are focusing on the future too. They are going to adopt Cory and apply for legal guardianship of Mason, who turns 18 soon. “Wayfinder has been an amazing partner on this journey,” Lara says. “They are advocates for Cory and Mason and an incredible support for our entire family.”
* Note: all names and some details have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.
So many children in the child welfare system need a forever family—as soon as possible. Your special gift will help us find loving homes for children in foster care.
May 30, 2023