By the time Sylvia and Jeffrey Spangler of San Antonio married in 2014, the same persistent calling had stirred in their hearts for years – they wanted to become foster parents.
“Fostering was something both my husband and I wanted to do,” explains Mrs. Spangler. “We had some good friends who had made the commitment, and we decided that we wanted to do it, too.”
They turned to the BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio Foster Care program to guide them on their journey.
In just a few short years since they married, about 60 youth in foster care have lived in the Spangler home. Sylvia and Jeffrey have cared for youth in transitional, or short-term, placements, as well as long-term placements predominantly for youth who fled violence and poverty in their home countries to find safety in the United States.
The Spanglers’ mission is to provide a loving support system for the youth, and to be steadfast role models, guiding them toward adulthood and self-sufficiency. For the BCFS-San Antonio Foster Care program, and the growing number of youth whose lives they’ve touched, the Spanglers are courageous examples of selfless love in action.
“It’s common for potential foster families to feel apprehensive about opening up their home to children they know won’t stay there forever – but familes like the Spanglers truly understand that regardless of how long they’re in your care, whether it’s a few weeks, months or years, those are precious, life-saving moments that child will never forget,” explains Elizabeth Lopez, BCFS Foster Care Program Director.
Saying goodbye to a foster child can be bittersweet, but for families like the Spanglers, goodbye isn’t forever – many of the youth who have left the Spangler home to reunite with biological family or other caregivers still keep in touch with Sylvia and Jeffrey, sending them updates about their new life and loving messages of thanks.
The five boys currently in the Spangler home are from four foreign countries on long-term placements. Some have lived there as long as a year, others just a few months. They attend a local high school and have assimilated well into the community with the help of their foster parents.
“They each have their own hopes and dreams,” beams Mrs. Spangler, who explains that career goals for the boys are varied, from police officer, to professional musician, to engineer.
Family time is paramount, and the Spanglers work hard to organize fun outings with their boys to the beach, the park, the neighborhood swimming pool, or to various activities at their high school.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” Sylvia says. “My husband and I love to be with them all the time. We show them a lot of love, a lot of caring. When we see how happy they are… it brings us so much joy when we know that the kids are happy in our home.”
Even after suffering a tragic loss in her past, Sylvia sees joy and God’s grace in the bond she shares with the youth placed in their home.
“I lost a son 15 years ago,” Sylvia says, “and at that time in my life, I never thought that I would be able to love again, or be happy again; to show anybody the kind of person that I once was before my son passed away. But these boys have. I cannot believe how much love God has given me through these boys. It’s just so beautiful.”
“We just hope that we can plant a seed,” says Sylvia, “so that they can continue with their lives and have a good, blessed life. That’s what we try to instill in them every day.”
Visit DiscoverBCFS.net/FosterCare for more information or to read the stories of other families.