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, 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 siblings 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.”
Rosalinda and Carlos Alvarado are wonderful examples of the important role foster families — now known as approved resource families — play in the lives of children who have been removed from their families. While we know that returning children to their parents, extended families, or communities is the best solution, this is not always feasible. Resource families therefore give children the chance to return to a community and a normal family environment that is so crucial to their development, happiness, and success. In some cases, when there is no family member available to take care of the children long-term, these resource families also have the option to adopt.
In addition, right now, the need for such resource families has never been greater. Recent legislation has limited the amount of time a child can spend in a residential treatment home. As the length of time for children in such group homes is shortened, resource families step in to fill the gap.
We are excited and thankful that due to our recent affiliation with Bienvenidos, we now offer foster care and adoption services. Resource families are often misunderstood, primarily due to negative impressions in the media, but our new association with Bienvenidos has allowed us to see first-hand how selfless, loving, and dedicated families like the Alvarados are.
Making their story even more dramatic is the fact that they have taken not one, not two, but all four siblings into their home. Approximately two-thirds of children in foster care in the United States also have a sibling also in foster care, and research shows children placed with their siblings do better, in part because of increased feelings of well-being and safety. However, keeping siblings together has long been a challenge in the field of foster care because few families have the resources, the stamina, or the heart to accept a sibling group.
In fact, when Bienvenidos social workers first tried to place the four siblings in one home, they hit a dead end. Despite this initial stumbling block, foster care social worker Laura Cruz was determined to keep the four together, and she kept searching for the right resource family.
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.
Why did they push so hard to give all four a home? Carlos Alvarado’s, simple, yet profound answer: “We felt we were meant to do this in life.”
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 couple is giving the four siblings a normal childhood filled with soccer teams, dance classes, and music lessons. Looking down the road, they are hoping to adopt the children. For now, however, the daily calls of “mom” and “pa” are all they need to already feel like a family.