By: Deanna Rebro | Category: Other | Issue: December 2011
Lara King, Teri Mocha-Newton, Maria Carter and Yani Hopewell make plans for the annual Choices for Life Foster Care Christmas banquet. (Lisa Prescott and Tabitha Holt not pictured.)
The magic of a wish come true will be felt within one local family this Christmas. It all began in the spring of 2007, when supervisors from area therapeutic foster care agencies gathered with DHS officials at a weekly staff meeting. Twenty or more case studies are discussed at each of these routine meetings. Some kids are in shelters, some are in foster homes that can no longer keep them, and some are in-patients in facilities. Their one common denominator is that they all have a higher level of emotional and behavioral needs that require therapeutic foster care.
The stories of three brothers were presented. The five, four and three year-olds had been removed from a single-parent home where gross neglect and domestic violence were the order of the day. The boys were in separate foster homes and not doing well. They wanted and needed to be together. Little did anyone know what was to come as a result of that life-changing meeting. Choices for Life, a therapeutic foster care agency at 724 S. Mission St. in Sapulpa, was the only agency with a family willing to take three siblings.
But the story doesn’t end there. The journey ahead was difficult for everyone. In the lightest of terms, the boys were “a handful” for even these seasoned foster parents with professional ties in the field. The boys were defiant, did poorly in school and strongly rebelled against authority figures – particularly women.
According to Lara King, Choices for Life supervisor, their foster parents never gave up. They continued showing them positive regard. No matter what the boys did or said, they were treated with respect and constantly reminded they were still loved and would not be kicked out of the house. And they meant it!
This fall, the boys who are now eight, seven and six, were officially adopted. They are about to celebrate their first Christmas in a two-parent family. “They’re all three enjoying school and have caught up to age-appropriate learning levels,” Lara reports. “And they’re making lots of friends.”
Therapeutic foster care made all the difference in these boys’ lives, just as it has for hundreds of other children and teens. Choices for Life provides them with the medical and special care they need so that they can some day be reunited with their biological families or go into the world ready to succeed.
Each child is carefully evaluated and then matched with a strong and stable foster family who will integrate that child not only into their family, but also into their community, school and church. The treatment families create opportunities for them to heal, grow, develop and adapt in society. It takes a unique person or family to open their hearts to these children who all come with “baggage.” Those who are up to the challenge say it is one of the most thrilling experiences in their lives as they watch a troubled child blossom into a loving and responsible individual. And they realize they are the primary agents of change for this young person.
On December 15, as many as 40 foster families, including six new certified families, will be honored at the Choices for Life annual Christmas banquet to be held at First Baptist Church in Sapulpa. Sponsors for the event are Texas Roadhouse, Merritt’s Bakery, Food Pyramid, Panera Bread and Warehouse Market.
Although not everyone has what it takes to foster a child, there is a way that everyone can help. Gift cards, restaurant certificates, and movie and entertainment tickets can lighten a foster parent’s day any time.
The need for therapeutic foster homes never ends. The next training program, free of charge and without obligation, will form soon. Anyone interested in fostering or any businesses or individuals who would like to make a donation, call Choices for Life Foster Care at (918) 248-4340, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.