Teach Them to Realize Their Worth

It took an empty nest and a baby girl to show Lynda Cantu her life’s vocation. Four years ago, her mother called and asked her to take in Lynda’s six-month-old niece for a while. The child was about to be placed in foster care, and Lynda was the only family member qualified to keep her. She agreed, little realizing how that decision would affect her family and her life.

“It restored my relationship with my mother, which hadn’t been good,” she said. “But that was just one of the doors God opened for me at the time. I didn’t realize what the experience would do to me as a wife, as a mother, as a woman of God. It changed my life forever.”

One year later, Lynda’s niece had returned home to her birth parents, and her oldest daughter was preparing to graduate from high school. Barely a week after Christmas, Lynda sat in a suddenly silent home. She looked around her home and said to her husband, Bobby, “Our kids are growing up and leaving and they’re making lives of their own. We’ve been blessed with a big place, and you know I don’t function well without a noisy house. What do you think about doing foster care?”

Bobby was leery, but he also knew that when it came to affairs of the heart, Lynda couldn’t help but give 100 percent. He also knew he couldn’t stop her once she set her mind to something. So, he did what any supportive husband would do – he said, “We’ll try it, and see what happens.”

Their first placement was an 11-year-old girl, who was followed by another girl.
“My husband had said, ‘Two’s enough,’ but before long, we had four kids in the house. Then he said, ‘I thought you were going to quit at two. Why do we have four?’”
The most children they’ve had at one time is six. Yet, they haven’t taken a baby since their niece. They only accept older placements, girls around eight years old to pre-teen. There’s a reason for that.

As a child, Lynda was sexually abused and molested. As a result, she also found herself in the foster care system. She doesn’t know where she’d be if she hadn’t ended up with the woman who took her in.

“She loved me and accepted me,” said Lynda. “She taught me what it means to be loved. That’s when I knew I wanted to put my stamp on the world. I just didn’t know how – until now.”

Lynda fosters girls who have endured some of the same awful experiences as she. She takes them in because another woman took her in many years ago, and that act changed her life. Lynda believes she can change lives, too.

“Because of what happened to me as a child, I feel I can teach them to realize their worth and value. That’s what my foster mother taught me. Yes, I had a rough childhood, but it doesn’t define who I am. That’s what I tell these girls, that it doesn’t matter where they came from. Their past doesn’t dictate their future.”

Because of Lynda, most of the girls in her care can feel hopeful about their future – especially that 11-year-old girl she and Bobby first fostered. She’s 15 now and still lives with them. The couple adopted Daniela in 2017, and she says she wants to be a foster mom, too, when she grows up. Soon, they’ll add another member to their family when they finalize the adoption of a 15-year-old girl they’ve cared for since August 2017.

“I’ve been blessed with kids and a husband who support me. Bobby always says, ‘You’re called to do this. I’m called to pray for you and the process, but you’re the one called to do this.’

“I just want people to be aware that these kids didn’t ask to be in this situation. They were put here because of decisions made by adults. They’re hurt, they’re scared, and they’re broken – just like I was. I try to remind people, ‘Remember those times when you fell. Who picked you up? Some people don’t have anyone to pick them up.’ So, that’s my calling – to pick up these girls.”

Picture of Beth Cormack
Beth Cormack

Beth is the project manager for the Saint Francis Ministries Marketing and Communications team.

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