May is National Foster Care Month that’s why we’ve asked a number of our foster families to share why fostering was the right choice for them. We are very grateful for all of our incredible foster parents who make a profound difference in the the lives of the youth they support. They are living our mission to build strong communities by empowering individuals every day.

To learn more about fostering with IPPI and other ways to support foster youth and families Click Here

(Pictured Jennifer Cosme) 

Jennifer Cosme: One day, while waiting my turn at the DMV, I was seated next to a young boy who was talking with two other kids about how hard it is to be a foster child. He was worried about remaining in his current placement, hoping that his new family would let him stay. Witnessing the worries of someone so young broke my heart. I decided I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. I was determined to do my best and offer a safe, welcoming place in my home for youth in foster care.

My strategy was simple; treat a child with respect, work to build their confidence and trust, and most importantly, do it with love. I do love what I’m doing, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment. Seeing a smile on a child’s face, or getting a hug for some little thing, I know in that moment, I am making a difference and the feeling is priceless. I chose to be a “foster mom”, for me, it’s not a job but a calling.

Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not always perfect. I have had those days when all I want to do is cry and give up. I had a little one, who challenged me every single day, since the day she was placed in my home. One morning I reached a tipping point. I woke up so disappointed, tired, angry and frustrated that I decided to call IPPI and ask them to come and pick the child up because I couldn’t handle the stress any longer.

That morning I brought my foster daughter to a respite providers home, as I had to work. You can imagine my surprise when the young boy from the DMV answered the door. The same young man who had broken my heart with his story and inspired me to become a foster mom. Once again he influenced my actions and impacted my decisions. I resolved not to give up on this young girl, to take every step all of the way through this journey. Now, every morning when we wake I say to my girls, “Let’s start our new day!” and we do.

(Pictured Marie and Merone Lima)

Marie Lima: When I think about children, I think of my own. To know a child has suffered abuse or neglect in their home breaks my heart. I’ve found that is isn’t hard to open yourself up to these children. My goal is to help them navigate their unique situation, and facilitate meeting their needs socially, physically, and emotionally in a therapeutic way, the best I can.

(Pictured Diane and Herb Curtis)

Diane Curtis : I do this work because I feel like I want to give back to the community. As a child I spent time in a foster home and understand how that feels. As my own children grew and left home I became a bit lonely as I was used to having my daughters living with us. I decided to do some respite work and that progressed to fostering youth in need. I’ve spent over 30 years working with children with autism. The gift of supporting kids is a talent I feel I was blessed with.

(Pictured Carmen Ayala)

Carmen Ayala: I have been a foster parent with IPPI for the past 16 years, and although it has been challenging at times, it is a very rewarding experience for me. Being a foster parent gives me the opportunity to help a youth have a sense of belonging, a sense of being part of a family. It allows me to teach, to guide, and to help youth build hope and purpose for a brighter future.

Being able to be part of this journey and witness this positive growth in the youth is the reason I love being a foster parent. Carmen works as a licensed realtor in CT and NY with the Century 21 Scala Group in Bridgeport, CT.

(Pictured Susan Jackson-Mack and one of her sons)

Susan Jackson-Mack: I started doing this work long before I knew about foster care. As children, we were taught to share what we had with others who needed help. That family legacy of giving back continued to influence me through adolescence, adulthood, and continues now as the pendulum starts to swing towards retirement.

I feel fortunate and blessed to have been a foster mother for 28 years. My sons, daughter and grandchildren are very special to me. My kids told me they don’t like to be referred to as foster children, simply my children, and I agreed with them. We stopped using the term foster a long time ago. We share so many stories and experiences that neither one of us would have had without the other. I think we are lucky we found each other. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

(Pictured Linda Jackson)

Linda Jackson: Since I was a child, we’ve always had additional people living in the house with us. Some were relatives, and others were family friends who later became family. Many people in my family have been, or are currently, foster parents, so fostering felt natural to me.

As a foster parent for over 20 years, I’d chosen to foster teenage girls. I decided to work with this population because I wasn’t the best teenager and I also know this is a hard group to place and maintain in a foster home.

Though there have been some difficult times, I’ve never had a disruption and credit much of my success as a parent to my upbringing, my family, and the agency I am licensed under. In addition to fostering Linda serves as the Associate Director, YSM Diversity Office; Director of Educational Outreach Programs for Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT.