Written by Leonard Favela
When Mr. and Mrs. Lorena and Patrick Lamza married, they wanted children. They explored several different options for several years, but each try was unsuccessful. After fourteen years of marriage, they decided, together, to open their home to the possibility of foster care and adoption.
With the help and training of BCFS Health and Human Services Foster Care and Adoption program, the Lamza family dynamic would soon change to include the highly energetic brother-sister duo of three-year-old Jalisa and her two-year-old brother, Enrique (“Kike,” pronounced KEE-keh, for short). BCFS-San Antonio arranged for the siblings, who had been in the care of an elderly aunt before being placed in the foster care system, to meet their new caregivers, who met the children at their day care, along with a BCFS-San Antonio case manager.
“They came running toward us; they wanted us to pick them up, and when we did, they stuck to us like magnets,” Patrick remembers fondly. That day, the Lamza family doubled in size. From one day to the next, the Lamzas went from going places as a duo to arriving as a foursome, as Jalisa and Kike blended into their welcoming family. Lorena’s eight brothers and four sisters were ecstatic at the news of the two newest family members.
“They loved it,” Lorena smiles. “They always wanted us to have children, so they were very happy for us.”
“We brought them to our family reunion,” says Patrick, “and everyone was happy for us. Surprised, but it was a happy surprise!”
Kike battles shyness as his older sister enthusiastically answers questions about her favorite food.
“Tacos!” she exclaims, adding that her favorite color is blue, and that she will wear a Shine costume (referring to the blue half of the pink-and-blue character duo Shimmer & Shine) for Halloween. She encourages her brother to reveal his costume, lovingly coaxing him toward his Iron Man mask, which he puts on, extending his arm with his palm out, making a whishing sound in his best Iron Man impersonation.
The first-year parents enthusiastically scroll through photos and videos while Lorena remembers the newness that every parent feels the first time they hold their child, and the inevitable thought process that comes with new members of the family.
“At first,” she admits, “we were a little shocked. We used to be able to just pick up and go. I guess when you’re pregnant, you (sort of) know what’s coming…for us, it was one week, and then everything changed.”
In an example of the ancient proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child,” extended family members checked in frequently to ensure the two newest Lamzas were acclimating well. BCFS Health and Human Services also provides ongoing support services for adoptive parents, including 24-hour emergency on-call, monthly parent support group meetings with child care provided, and free training opportunities.
With a little help, Lorena says, “once we got a routine going, it got better.”
While Jalisa moved in with a bed, Kike, just two at the time, arrived at the Lamza homestead with a crib. Just a few months later, he would grow his way into a toddler bed.
“He had seen my tools in his room,” Patrick remembers, “and asked ‘you’re gonna convert my bed?’”
When Kike got home from school the next day, Patrick remembers with a smile, “he ran upstairs and ran back down and climbed on the couch and gave me three big kisses!”
“They’re good,” says Lorena of her two children. “They’re very loving.”
As Jalisa and Kike play whimsically together in the den, the Lamzas contemplate the answers to somewhat heavier questions about informing their children of their past when the time is right.
“We have thought about that,” she says, mentioning that the children have three other biological siblings.
“It’s really going to be up to them, if they want to pursue knowing them, and wanting to know, but we haven’t thought about how we would even approach telling them. We probably need advice on that,” she bravely admits as a mom who only wants the best for her children.
In their interactions with their new children, though, the Lamzas are most focused on active and engaging fun. Since officially becoming Lamzas, Jalisa and Enrique have been invited to numerous birthday parties for their new cousins, toured a nearby pumpkin patch, and joined in on camping trips and weekends at the beach. The Lamzas have begun noticing the nuance of parenthood.
“Jalisa is very aware of her surroundings and what’s going on,” Lorena says. “Kike is more…he focuses on something, and anything else can happen…Jalisa is more ‘that’s happening here, that’s happening there…’…that’s one of the biggest differences between them that I see.
“But Jalisa is very focused, too. She wants one thing, and she wants it,” Lorena says, “but we are also learning about compromising.”
It’s about making sure that they are taken care of educationally, so that they can one day take care of themselves.
When new and young family members are being integrated into a family, the learning curve for both parents and children will arc gently with love, compassion, and communication, resulting in children raised in a stable and loving home who can grow into stable, loving members of their community.
“It’s important for me that they have a belief that they can trust and love throughout their lives,” Lorena says when asked about her goals as a new parent.
“It’s about making sure that they are taken care of educationally, so that they can one day take care of themselves. As long as they know what they need to do in terms of living a prosperous and healthy life, I think that would be my goal, to set those standards, like my mom set them for us. That would be my ultimate goal for them.”
Patrick adds, “To get them to the point where they’ll be able to take care of themselves when we’re gone. To raise them to the best of our ability and give them the knowledge and skills they need to take care of themselves when we’re no longer here.”
Loving, attentive, and active parents would agree.
This story originally appeared in the 2018 “together” magazine. You can view a digital edition of the full magazine here.