‘This is what we signed up for’
May 2018 · Ministry News
May is National Foster Care Month, so we’re taking time to celebrate some special Saint Francis foster parents who have opened their hearts and their homes to children in need.
Foster parents see every day the remarkable ways children respond to structure, security, and acceptance. They witness firsthand the transformative and life-affirming power of love in the lives of the children they serve.
The Ramirez family has seen it, and it has enriched their lives. Here’s their story.
Adrian and Britanie Ramirez warned Saint Francis from the start – no babies. They’d signed up to foster children aged five to seven. That was it. They already had their hands full with three pre-teen daughters and had neither the time nor the energy for infants. Days after licensing, they received a call from their Saint Francis worker. A 2-day-old infant, still in the hospital, needed a home. Would the Ramirez family take her?
“Britanie had actually gone to the hospital first to see if it was something we could handle,” said Adrian. “The next thing I know, she calls and says, ‘She has to come home with me.’ I said okay, but I was nervous. Britanie held her like a pro, but I’m a big guy and this itty-bitty baby intimidated me. By the end of day, though, I was holding her and thinking, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’”
That first placement was followed by two other babies, both medically fragile. Then those babies were followed by at least a dozen more. Britanie says it’s not what they signed up for, but it’s been everything they could ask for. Their family motto is “See a need, fill it,” and that’s exactly what all five of the Ramirezes have done over the last two years.
“When we decided to start fostering, we made sure the girls were fully aware of every decision along the way,” said Britanie. “We’re open and honest with them and always make sure they have a choice. They help with the babies and love to play with them and make them laugh. The coolest part for us is that we all love serving and we get to be the hands of Jesus along with our children.”
As a director at Kids TLC, a street outreach program for homeless youth ages 16-24 within the Kansas City metro area, Britanie knows well the challenges young mothers and their children face. It affects the way her family interacts with the biological parents.
“We relate to them on some level,” said Britanie, “because we understand the heartache they face. They love their children deeply, but right now they need some extra support. It’s very important to us to build a relationship with the biological parents so when their child returns home, we can maintain a connection and continue to support the parents as well as the child.”
Plus, it gives them the opportunity to “love on the child longer,” admits Britanie with a smile. They need that extra time, because it can be emotionally wrenching for the whole family when a child in their care returns home.
“The biggest challenge for me is always going to be the attachment, and I get attached easily” said Adrian. “We love hard because they’re part of the Ramirez clan from the day they arrive. We love them like our own, with no boundaries or limits. That makes it difficult when they leave.
“It’s made us stronger as a family, though,” added Britanie. “We’re seeing our girls mature in ways that aren’t common because they see the effects of pain, heartbreak, and redemption on a daily basis. They know where we stand because we’re open and honest with them. I don’t know if we would have experienced any of that if we hadn’t started fostering.
“Recently, I had a conversation with one of my daughters and said, ‘I don’t know if Mommy can do this again after this baby goes home. I don’t know if I can handle it.’ She looked at me and said, ‘Mom, this is what we signed up for; this is how it’s supposed to be. We know this part comes, we know what it’s going to be like, and we’re going to say yes again and again and again.’ I thought, ‘My gosh, she’s so much wiser than me.’”