When Lou Moore began the process in 2000 that would lead to her and her husband fostering three children and adopting one, she says she wasn’t aware of an organization like FosterAll.
“If I had known about this, it would have been a godsend,” said Moore, who has become FosterAll’s executive director for the last two and a half years. “You have no idea how you feel lost sometimes in this process.”
Moore can speak firsthand to how this entry point into the Los Angeles County foster care and adoption system works through FosterAll’s 3,600-plus stories of successful foster journeys.
According to figures provided to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, about 34,000 children live in foster care in Los Angeles County, the largest number in the nation. More than 1 in 5 are under the age of 2.
FosterAll, which began as Child S.H.A.R.E. in 1985, raises awareness about foster care and provides support services to foster families in partnership with faith communities.
“We are all about focusing on the family, giving them guidance through this life-changing mission,” said Moore.
As more than 140 faith communities have partnered with FosterAll, the connection to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been ongoing for the last year. FosterAll has made more than 200 presentations, both in English and Spanish, and the archdiocese says more than 600 families have signed up to learn more about fostering.
More than 40 parishes across LA County have answered the call to encourage their parishioners to take the next step by becoming foster parents or are participating in activities to wrap around foster families.
“Our Catholic families are incredibly generous,” said Kathleen Buckley Domingo, the director at the Office of Life, Justice and Peace in the archdiocese. “They want to do something to help those in need. They are concerned about homelessness and human trafficking and high incarceration rates. And I tell them that the very best thing they can do is ask God if he is calling them to be foster parents.
“Our parishes can do so much to support families who are fostering. Fostering and adopting can be difficult. Everyone who does it tells me that it is not for the faint ofheart. But they also tell me that their lives are so enriched because of their experience, and the children’s lives are forever changed.
“We are thankful for our partnership with FosterAll because they provide support to families from the time they begin thinking about fostering all through the process.”
With National Adoption Awareness Month in November, Moore noted how the foster care/adoption movement in the U.S. began with a religious foundation in the mid-19th century.
The “Orphan Train” project, launched by Calvinist minister and philanthropist Charles Loring Brace, took some 400,000 orphaned children off the streets of New York to where he believed they had a better chance for a successful life in Midwestern homes. The program, active until 1929, led to the launch of the Children’s Aid Society that pushed for national social reform.
Today, LA County has 43 foster family agencies providing foster parent approval and child placements. Each is different in training, services, location, language capabilities, and more. FosterAll helps families select the agency that is best suited for them.
“We spend a great deal of time preparing families so that when they are matched with an agency, nothing is a surprise. Because they are prepared and given ongoing personal support throughout the entire process, we have a high retention rate. We serve as your guide because everyone’s journey is different,” said Moore.
“Having learned that 60 percent of the children in foster care are Hispanic in LA County, FosterAll increased its efforts to recruit Hispanic families. When a child has already experienced trauma from being removed in the middle of the night and is then placed with a family that doesn’t speak their language or know their culture, more trauma ensues for an already frightened child.”
In addition, more than 800 children live in group homes in LA County. Kathy Hernandez, the FosterAll director of programs, has expanded the faith-based connections with projects to help those specific residents.
One of the most impactful is FosterAll’s Christmas Breakfast Celebration, where parishes host 8- to 10-year-old boys and girls aged 11 to 17 from residential facilities. On the Saturday before Christmas, they meet for a meal, presents, stockings, and fun activities. Hernandez said more than 20 congregations have signed up for this December 22 event.
It’s easy to see how stigmas about foster children are often erased with these interactions.
“We had one child at a church tell us that all for Christmas he wanted was a rosary,” said Moore. “When he opened his gift, tears filled my eyes as I watched him kiss his rosary and smile a big smile. Giving hope and love to a child is the greatest gift of all.”
Tom Hoffarth is an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles.
November is Adoption Awareness Month. There are currently 34,000 children in foster care in Los Angeles County, the highest number in the nation. Twenty-one percent of foster children in LA are under the age of 2. Upon aging out of foster care without a family, one-third of the youths will become homeless, one-fifth will become incarcerated, and 70 percent of trafficked youths come from the foster care system. Every child deserves a loving family.
“The good news is that when families open their hearts and homes to foster youth, outcomes for these kids improve considerably,” said Kathleen Buckley Domingo, senior director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
“We are adopted sons and daughters of God. Fostering and adopting children in need allows us to share the love of God and change lives — theirs and our own,” said Domingo.