IMPACT STORY | AMY
Amy is a single foster mom who was referred to Austin Angels by her foster placement agency, DePelchin. She opened her home to children in January 2017 and had her first permanent placement in October of 2017. She has taken two placements since then: a five-year-old boy and a nine-year-old boy.
Amy had the heart to foster, the space to do so, and felt there was no better time in life to take fostering on.
“I have always had a passion for children. I know it’s cheesy, but as Whitney Houston sang, ‘I believe children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way’. When you help a child, you affect the world. Though I was never able to have kids, I felt like it was the right time to explore fostering, given the dire need in Travis County.”
Amy quickly realized that the hardest part about being a foster parent is keeping your cool through the difficult times. “Staying unemotional and unaffected by what is going on is crucial. The emotion is reserved for time alone or when calling the foster organization. Without my support group and the help of CASA, DePelchin, and Austin Angels, I wouldn’t have made it.”
Her biggest fear coming into the program was that when circumstances changed for her boys (as they did for her nine-year-old, who is now in a residential treatment center, and as they will for her five-year-old, who will likely be placed with a family at some point in the next few months), they would miss the connection with their foster support system (including her support and the Austin Angels Love Box group). “Children in foster care have a tough path, often even after family reunification. However, knowing that any love and relationship the boys experience now (while in care) is good for them helps to settle these fears.”
“My favorite part of the Love Box program has been the relationship that has formed between my family and our Love Box leaders, Matt and Katie. My boys and I have grown close to them and consider them a part of our extended family in ways. The vast majority of children in care don’t have a male role model in their life, so it’s nice, especially for kids who haven’t seen what a ‘dad’ should be like, to have Matt play ball and tag with them. It’s also great for the kids to watch Matt and Katie interact and get to see what a healthy relationship looks like. The boys don’t get to see how men should treat women, and it’s a blessing for them to see this through Matt and Katie.
With my nine-year-old’s special needs, it has been a lifesaver to spend an afternoon with Matt and Katie, and sometimes their two girls, Joleigh and Nella. We meet up and play at the park or the bouncy house place; it is so helpful for the boys to get more attention than from just me all of the time! Matt and Katie introduced us to the Austin Zoo, which was fabulous and we’ve been back several times.
The way the Love Box program has impacted my kids has impacted me. My older son was placed with me in December, and his birthday is in January. He is very social and great at making friends, but when I sent birthday party invitations to his whole class, no one could make it. I rented him a room for ten at the bouncy house place close to our home. No one RSVP’d. I was talking with Katie about the lack of class response and she mentioned that they had a bouncy house place near their home, and if I would like to, I could cancel my reservation and come to the bouncy house place by them. When we showed up at Matt and Katie’s bouncy house place, there were presents, decorations, and cake. They had also purchased a pie in the face game, which we all played together a few months later (a big milestone for my older boy).
In May of 2018, Matt and Katie brought my five-year-old foster son some level one reading books—and he read his first book ever (one of those books) a few days later! My five-year-old reading for the first time, and my nine-year-old getting to play a family game and get along as a family, were both HUGE events, and I am forever grateful to Katie, Matt, and Austin Angels for their support of my boys.
The Love Box program helped change my life perspective in many ways. I cannot thank Katie enough for her insight, as a mother of two, and as a teacher, for laughing with me about our parent fails and for providing suggestions on how to tackle issues that have come up with each of the boys. Matt and Katie gave emotional support to me during a period with my specialized leveled nine-year-old’s care that I didn’t think I would make it through. Matt and Katie’s care for our family has been so monumentally helpful. Austin Angels came at the right time, when things were really tough. For this, I am forever grateful!"