May is National Foster Care Month

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in News, Stories | 0 comments

In honor of National Foster Care Month, meet Miguel and Macrina Gutierrez, a couple committed to giving three foster siblings a forever home. 
Miguel and Macrina Gutierrez, hathaway-Sycamores Foster Parents

Miguel and Macrina Gutierrez, Foster Parents, who have opened their hearts and home to a trio of siblings.

For 17 years, Miguel and Macrina Gutierrez’s Whittier, Calif., home was occupied by only themselves and two cats. On July 30 of last year, that occupancy status increased. Dramatically. As Miguel recalls, on that fateful Monday, “We became a family.”

Now is the Time

While the Gutierrez’s became a foster/adoptive family of five – literally, overnight – their path toward parenthood actually spanned several years. Wed in 1995, the couple set their sights from the start on having children. It was soon discovered, however, that Macrina – who works at a Montebello elementary school as an early intervention specialist – had a medical problem that would make conceiving naturally difficult. Several years were then spent pursuing infertility avenues,  including in vitro fertilization– with no success.

Then, a chance conversation pointed to another avenue. Miguel, who works at UPS, was talking with a coworker about his and Macrina’s struggles to start a family. The coworker told Miguel that his wife works at a local agency – Hathaway-Sycamores – and that they have adoption and foster-family programs.

Miguel, who is now 44, was extremely excited and thought to himself: “Now is the time. If we’re going to do something, we need to get moving.” Although she didn’t share Miguel’s immediate enthusiasm, Macrina – who is 46 – agreed to attend a Hathaway-Sycamores’ Foster Parent Orientation.

Foster Parent Certification

Because the Gutierrez’s overarching goal was to have a permanent family, their first question was: Can fostering a child lead to adoption? The answer was a resounding “yes.” In fact, the Gutierrez’s learned that there currently are more than 56,000 children in California’s foster care system, with over 13,000 needing an adoptive home. (Nationally, there are some 382,000 youngsters in foster care, with about 104,000 available for adoption.)

Sensing that fost-adopt was the right path to pursue, Miguel and Macrina began the process to become certified foster parents. From the first class on, Miguel was impressed with Hathaway-Sycamores’ program. “They are so thorough, helpful, open, and honest. They answer all of your questions, and are with you every step of the way.”

Those steps included training, a home inspection and a home study which is an in-depth interview of each applicant’s motivation to become a fost/adopt parent and history. Commenting on Hathaway-Sycamores’ program, Macrina says, “They really prepare you well for being a foster parent. They had guest speakers, educational movies, and you had the chance to talk with actual foster parents.”

With Hathaway-Sycamores’ guidance, Miguel and Macrina received their foster parent certification on July 9, 2012.

A Big Change

Just 21 days later – on July 30, 2012 – Miguel and Macrina became foster parents. The couple hadn’t planned on instantly becoming a family of five, but when they learned the siblings’ story, they instantly became committed to keeping the trio together, because their young lives already had been so difficult. The oldest girl – now 6 – and her brother, who will turn 4 in June, had been in four foster placements over the last three years. The youngest – a toddler girl who just turned 2 – had been in foster care since she was four-months old. All had been removed as a result of parental substance abuse and domestic violence.

While Miguel admits that overnight parenthood was “a big shock and a big change,” he adds, “Hathaway-Sycamores’ support made the transition very smooth. You can literally call them for help any time of the day or night.” And that support doesn’t end when the children walk through your door. For example, while all three youngsters are truly thriving, the oldest is struggling with memories of early childhood trauma. To help her navigate these painful recollections, Hathaway-Sycamores – through its home-based services – provides weekly in-home therapy to the little girl.

A Forever Family

While the Gutierrez’s have only been a family of five for just short of one year, Macrina observes, “Now, we couldn’t imagine life without them.” She has also learned, “Being a parent isn’t just about giving birth. It’s about taking care of the children and showing them that they’re loved.” Miguel shares similar sentiments. “I can’t imagine our lives any other way,” he says. “They’ve made such a difference in our lives, and we’ve made a difference in their lives. They tell us they love us and want to be with us forever.” The Gutierrez’s also want the sibling trio to be with them forever, and have been identified by the court as the prospective adoptive home for the children.

Becoming a Foster Parent

There’s a pressing need for foster families who are willing to care for a child temporarily and for fost/adopt families who want to provide a forever home for a child. Anyone who has ever considered opening their heart and home to a foster child is urged to contact us:

Virginia Montoya 
Foster Parent Liason

1-888-24-FAMILY

(1-888-243-2645)

We are here to help and will be happy to answer all of your questions. It’s important to know that foster families come in many forms – different races, lifestyles, income and education levels, married, single, gay, lesbian – to cite just a few examples. You can work full time or be retired – you can own a home or be a renter; the crucial requirement is that you’re dedicated to helping a child in need. It’s also important to know that Hathaway-Sycamores trains, certifies, supervises, and supports its foster families, including weekly social worker visits along with virtually any home-based services that are needed. Additionally, foster parents—as well as those who adopt foster children—receive a monthly stipend for providing care.

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