Roberto and Sonia Flores have seen more than their share of the ups and downs of foster care in their 25+ years as foster parents. They began their foster care journey in New York when their church had an open house. The Flores’ had 3 biological children. They were told that one of their children had such a severe language disability…that he would not ever graduate high school. That diagnosis and outcome was not acceptable to Robert and Sonia. They were never willing to quit. It only put a challenge before the family that they must conquer. With the right help and structure, their son not only graduated, but is now attending Yale while also a preacher. So, when the Flores learned that New York had a need for Hispanic families to care for foster children, they thought, “Maybe there are a lot of kids we can help” and “We have space.” They opened up their home to children of many needs and many ages.
The Flores family has some stories to tell from New York, from their first foster child being blind to Hilary Clinton visiting a cocaine addicted newborn they were caring for. In spite of many ups and downs, the rewards and purpose outweighed it all so that when they moved to Connecticut they looked to continue to do foster care. The Flores’ came to CRI, whom they have now faithfully worked with for 15 years.
The Flores’ express extreme respect and care for the social workers they have worked and bonded with. They have had to call for emergency help and have had psychologists give them specific tools and support while sitting on their couch. The Flores family has a very sincere relationship with the agency where they bring up struggles and concerns, knowing they will be supported and helped. They were part of opening up the Spanish unit at CRI. They have worked hard and long through it all. At one time they had only about 50 members in their church and yet they had recruited 17 of them to do foster care with them, making their own community of support.
When asked about what fears they had about foster care before going into it, the Flores’ were very honest. They said that they feared the loss of privacy they would experience and having to change things in their family. They have managed to bridge that. Their biological children have become so impacted by foster care that one of their children works for a residential home of children with special needs and is being recruited to be a foster dad himself. The Flores’ biological children learned to care for other’s who are struggling because these kids were in their home. They lived with them and they were at their dinner table. They care more for other people as a result.
When asked about what the great things about foster parenting are, Sonia quickly replied that “reunifications are the best”. She works hard to place values into the children to love their parents despite their mistakes and to win over the parents so they are a team. The Flores family retains relationships with most of their foster children, receiving much appreciation from the biological parents and affection from the children (of whom many are all grown up). One is in the army and still calls on every birthday and holiday.
The Flores family warns that sometimes things don’t work out and a child cannot or doesn’t want to stay, whether they don’t like the structure or just need more help. But, Roberto shares, “No foster parent is perfect, but it is how you handle it and if you can ventilate yourself in a hard situation and come back to it” Sonia continued, “Sometimes the moment you want to quit is the moment you are about to be amazed. Some people are looking for a perfect child. It doesn’t exist. A foster parent has to be involved. I have my own goals for each of these kids even if they don’t have those goals.” Sonia and Roberto have certainly seen so many of those goals met and there are so many children that can attest that much of their success is because of this family’s commitment.
CRI can never truly express their gratitude for families like the Flores’ for their commitment and love for the children they care for. They are truly inspirational.