It's very difficult to find a home for four siblings, but I was determined to keep them together.
Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) September 09, 2016
The Alvarados’ home is filled with the voices of happy children calling “mom” and “pa.”
These words may not seem special to the average family, but to Rosalinda and Carlos Alvarado of Perris, California, they mean everything. Four of their seven children are in foster care, a family of three boys and one girl, ages 10, 9, 7, and 5. The children have only been living with the Alvarados for three months, but already the bond is strong.
“We had an instant connection,” said Rosalinda Alvarado. “It is the best sound in the world –Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.”
Last spring, the fate of the siblings was unsure. The foster parent they’d been living with the last two years was unable to continue to care for them, and reuniting with their mother wasn’t an option.
“It’s very difficult to find a home for four siblings, but I was determined to keep them together,” said foster care social worker Laura Cruz, who works for Bienvenidos, an affiliate of the Los Angeles foster care charity Hillsides, in the Montclair, California office. Her initial efforts to find a family with the space, energy, and resources to accept all four proved fruitless.
The siblings’ situation is not unique. Approximately two-thirds of children in foster care in the United States have a sibling also in foster care, yet only recently has there been a priority at both the state and federal level to keep families together. It wasn’t until the 1990s that state legislatures and courts initiated regulations regarding sibling placement, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. At the federal level, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 was the first federal law that addressed the importance of keeping siblings together, requiring states to make “reasonable efforts” to maintain sibling connections in foster care or adoptions.
Research shows that, children who are placed in foster care with their siblings do better because it promotes well-being, safety, while being separated can cause grief and a greater sense of loss -- something Cruz knew all too well as she and her colleagues went to work to find the siblings that perfect match.
Enter the Alvarados family, who had previously taken in sets of siblings. When the couple learned there were four children in the family, despite a squeeze in space and a few other logistical issues, they worked with Cruz to make it a reality.
“We felt we were meant to do this in life,” said Carlos Alvarado.
The couple, the parents of three children, 20, 18, and 11, said they became foster parents because they felt a calling to help children. They’d discussed the idea for years, and when a year ago they felt the time was right, they presented the idea to their children, who wholeheartedly backed their decision.
The day the siblings arrived to live with them, one of the boys asked Rosalinda Alvarado, “Do you make pupusas and tamales?”
“Yes, I do,” she answered with a smile, “and you can help me make them right now.” From the first moments in the kitchen to the morning ritual where Rosalinda Alvarado wakes up daily to find four children smiling at her in adoration, love and trust have grown.
The couple is giving the children a normal childhood filled with soccer teams, dance classes, and music lessons.
They are so taken with the children, they’re hoping to eventually adopt. For now, however, the daily calls of “mom” and “pa” are all they need to already feel like a family.
Hillsides provides high quality care, advocacy, and innovative services that promote safe, permanent environments where children and youth can thrive. Headquartered in Pasadena, the agency and its affiliation with Bienvenidos serves 13,000 children and families in Los Angeles County throughout its 35 sites, including school-based mental health offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Baldwin Park. Foster care and adoptions services in approved resource family homes serve families in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. To learn more about both agencies, visit http://www.Hillsides.org and http://www.Bienvenidos.org. Visit Hillsides on Facebook @hillsideschildren, on Twitter @Hillsides, or on Instagram @HillsidesPasadena.