Foster Care & Adoption – A Labor of Love
The BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio Foster Care and Adoption programs have touched hundreds of lives, building forever families and creating safe havens for youth in transition to experience a loving home, even if only for a short while. The Medinas and Reinas are passionate advocates for foster care and adoption who agree on this foundational truth: opening up your home to a child in need is a labor of love.
The Reina Family
Rebecca and Andres Reina have a 7-year-old adopted daughter, Natalie, who they began fostering when she was nine months old. In a milestone moment for the family in early June, they finalized the adoptions of a brother-and-sister duo, Isabel, 4 and Omar, 2.
Mrs. Reina says the BCFS-San Antonio Foster Care and Adoption programs “guided us and gave us the resources we needed. They helped us with the classes, how to fill out the application and the inspections and verifications of our home.”
“Most of our requirements are beyond minimum standards,” says Director Elizabeth Lopez from the BCFS-San Antonio Foster Care program. “Since we work with the United States Office of Refugee Resettlement, working with international youth who arrive in this country, our expectations are a little higher and our practices go above the state-mandated minimum standards to qualify parents and their homes.”
“The children’s wellbeing and safety are the main focus of our programs,” she emphasizes.
The Reinas, like the Medinas, echo similar sentiments about the rewarding experience of opening up their home to a new family member–even if it’s just for a short while.
“The children coming into our lives... they’re blessing us, growing our family, and we provide stability and structure for the kids,” said Mrs. Reina. “More importantly, we provide them with love and knowledge.”
Adds Mr. Reina, “I just say ‘thank you’ for the opportunity, because some people don’t have the chance, some don’t want (to foster), but when you are walking this path, you realize the blessings you have around you.”
While BCFS-San Antonio Foster Care & Adoption works to attract prospective foster families, Lopez keeps their organization’s top priority in sharp focus.
“It’s all about the children who come in and our foster parents,” she explains. “We want to make sure they have everything they need in the way of resources and training to succeed at nurturing these youth, because they are in it together, 24/7. ”
The Medina Family
Lorenzo and Janette Medina welcomed a foster child into their home for the first time in 2012, which proved to be a life-changing experience. Fourteen years later, they’ve housed and cared for a grand total of 20 foster youth, including some youth from impoverished nations in Latin America.
“We always had in our minds that we wanted to help children in need,” said Mrs. Medina, a stay-at-home mom who helps her husband with his real estate business on the side.
Mr. and Mrs. Medina, originally from Mexico and Guatemala, respectively, have three biological children; two sons, 16 and 14, and an 11-year-old daughter.
“We’ve gone back to our home countries and our kids have seen the needs that the people have,” explains Mrs. Medina. “It helped them sympathize and understand where these (foster) kids come from. It teaches them to acknowledge the blessings we have that others don’t, and to learn to share those blessings. Hopefully, this will leave something in their hearts to help others in the future.”
“For us as a family, it’s been a blessing to be part of these kids’ lives, ” Mrs. Medina says. “We hope to continue helping children as long as God allows us.”
Mr. Medina says that, while it is difficult to say goodbye to a youth when it’s time for them to move on, it’s critical to be flexible and accept those bittersweet moments.
“You get to know them personally, they become part of the family, and they always will be, but we know that we have them for only a short time,” Mr. Medina said. “We wish them the best on their journeys, and encourage them to try their best everywhere they go.”
“It’s something that we can’t control,” adds Mrs. Medina about the hard goodbyes. “But just like with our biological kids, someday they are going to leave home and go on their own journeys. Our foster kids are our kids, too, and there will be a time that they have to go and experience their own lives.”
“It is a good calling for us to provide a home for those that need a safe place,” Mr. Medina continues. “We have to be open-minded and have an open heart to anyone that needs help, anywhere.”
If you or someone you know is interested in fostering or adopting, visit DiscoverBCFS.net or call 210-674-3010 for more information.
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BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.