“That’s not for me,” Virginia remembers thinking when she heard a radio ad encouraging people to become foster parents. “Then I felt guilty.” She asked God to give her a sign if he wanted her to be a foster parent. “The next day, I saw a great big sign saying ‘become a foster parent’ as I got on the highway,” she laughs.
That did it. Virginia became a foster parent in 2005 and has fostered more than 100 children, most of them teenagers.
Virginia has a special talent for guiding teenage foster kids. “When you are in meetings, foster parents say ‘I don’t want teenagers,’” Virginia says. “But when teenagers trust you, they are yours. You still can change their whole life.”
Araceli Sanchez, a Wayfinder social worker who assists Virginia, credits her success with teenagers to the structure Virginia provides: required wake-up times, chores, meal times and homework time. “She does not easily give up on the kids,” Araceli says. “She has a big heart. She’s very warm and nurturing.”
Virginia goes to bat for her foster kids. She pushes the school to provide extra support if a child needs it. When a teen makes a mistake, Araceli says, “She talks to the kid about making a better choice next time.”
Virginia’s belief in the teens she fosters pays off in their affection and accomplishments. Today, four of the children she fostered recently are in college. One of them, David, whom Virginia fostered from age 13, has a full scholarship to Chapman University.
David paid a loving tribute to Virginia as he received scholarship funds when graduating from high school. A teacher asked him if he wanted to thank anyone. He said, “Thank you to my mom because she has been there for me.” Virginia thought David was referring to his deceased biological mother. “But he said he meant me,” says Virginia. “That made me cry.”
Through all the ups and downs, Virginia finds being a foster mom extraordinarily rewarding. “You can touch a life,” she explains. “It’s unbelievable!”•
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May 22, 2019