Armijo Newspapers, May 30, 2013: Hathaway-Sycamores: A Forever Family

Posted by on Jun 3, 2013 in Press | 0 comments

Hathaway- Sycamores: A Forever Family

May 30, 2013 By

Gutierrez croppedStaff Reports 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.” 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 struggle to start a family. The coworker told Miguel that his wife works at a local agency, Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, 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, 46, agreed to attend a Hathaway-Sycamores Foster Parent Orientation. Because the Gutierrez’s overall 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 are currently 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 foster/adoption 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 foster/adoptive parent and their 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 and adoptive parent certification on July 9, 2012. Just 21 days later, on July 30, 2012, Miguel and Macrina became foster “Mom and Dad”. The couple hadn’t planned on 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 is almost 4, had been in four foster placements over the last three years. The youngest, a 2-year old toddler girl, 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. 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 home-based services provides weekly in-home therapy to the little girl. 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.” Miguel and Macrina 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. There is a pressing need for foster families who are willing to care for a child temporarily, and for foster/adoption families who want to provide a forever home for a child. Foster families come in many forms of race, lifestyle, income and education levels; full-time employees or retirees; home-owners or renters. 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. Anyone who has ever considered opening their heart and home to a foster child is urged to contact Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services at 1-888-24-FAMILY ((888) 243-2645), e-mail VirginiaMontoya@hathaway-sycamores.org; or learn more by visiting http://www.hathaway-sycamores.org.

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