“As soon as you step into my house, you’re my child,” said Karen Wong, a foster parent in FCA’s Specialized Foster Care program.
When Karen’s three biological daughters were teens more than 15 years ago, Karen noticed that her church minister’s wife cared for children in foster care. She realized she had the resources and time to help, so she signed up directly with the Department of Children and Families and became a foster parent. Eventually, a social worker suggested she would be a good fit for children with greater needs, and she joined FCA’s Therapeutic Foster Care program for kids with severe medical or mental health issues.
“What I love about FCA is it takes a holistic approach to the healing of the child,” she said. “They look at the child, their biological family, my family, and my social network. They see how this child fits into your home.”
Over the years Karen has had more than 30 children in her home, many of whom have intense needs. One such child is Lilyana, who was born blind and deaf with cerebral palsy and severe brain damage. She had so many needs – 10 hours of therapy per week and several surgeries, but Karen didn’t give up on helping her. Karen’s biological daughters saw how Lilyana progressed with their mom’s care, and encouraged Karen to adopt her. Now 7 years old and a permanent member of Karen’s family, Lilyana walks, talks, and has just started eating solid food.
“She is my biggest success story. She is the reason I’m still doing this. I saved her life and I’m trying to save one more. One child at a time,” said Karen.
Another child who made a big impact on Karen is “Brandy”, who came to Karen at 12 years old having been mentally and physically abused. Over time, Karen was able to see that it was Brandy’s past trauma that made her depressed and act out, and they were able to work together to calm some of Brandy’s anxieties. Brandy not only graduated from high school, but also went to college and is now a teacher, and she still keeps in touch with Karen.
It isn’t only the kids who learn important lessons in foster care – Karen said she has implemented some of her own lessons in her life as well. “I learned to be kind to myself because I tell the kids to love themselves all the time,” she said.
“I honestly believe I’m saving the world one child at a time,” Karen said. “I am going to show them what love really is, what family really is, and that they have choices.”
Tags: Foster Care