Annie used to think that people were foster parents for the money. But when Annie’s cousin became a foster parent and treated the children as her own, Annie was inspired.
“I saw so many kids needing extra help,” Annie recalls. “I was in my home by myself, and I thought, how can I give back?” She contacted Wayfinder’s Foster Care and Adoption program.
The first child that Annie fostered, 3-year-old Moriah, was a handful. Moriah’s mother suffered from mental illness and neglected the girl. Moriah broke things and tore up Annie’s house. “She couldn’t speak very well,” Annie says, “but she knew every curse word in the book.” A doctor told Annie that Moriah was unteachable.
With support from Wayfinder, Annie developed her foster-parenting approach. “The kids have taught me to have patience,” says Annie. “I give them love. I make myself trustworthy, so they know they can talk to me about anything.”
After 18 months with Annie, Moriah lived briefly with her mother, who could not care for the girl. Annie welcomed Moriah back and became her legal guardian.
With Annie’s support, Moriah began to overcome her anger. “I’ve had people tell me I should have sent Moriah back,” Annie says. “My response is that, if that was my grandchild, I would not dispose of them because of a behavior issue.”
Despite the doctor’s opinion, Annie knew Moriah was intelligent. By second grade, Moriah had surpassed her classmates.
Wayfinder’s Sylvia Gomez-Morales, social worker supervisor, notes, “Annie develops each child’s strengths and gets them involved in something they enjoy.”
Annie tried to interest Moriah in various sports and arts over the years. Then Annie signed Moriah up for track. Moriah began placing first and second in races. “All of a sudden, it’s like a new Moriah,” Annie says. “She has a purpose in life.” Now in sixth grade, Moriah is also excelling in school.
“When I can see a difference in a child, I figure I have done what God has called me to do,” says Annie. “It’s something I love doing. The children keep me young.” •
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January 7, 2020