Love Makes a Family

Sitting in the courtroom waiting for the adoption hearing to begin took me back in time to the day our daughter’s adoption was finalized many years ago. It’s such a powerful and joyful moment when the judge declares your adoption to be official, and your son or daughter becomes a legal and permanent member of your family.
I was at the Durango courthouse this day to witness another step on one amazing family’s journey – the adoption of two children who would be the 11th and 12th child for Eric and Victoria. Watching the smiles, seeing the siblings gathered around wearing tee shirts stating that “Love Makes a Family” brought me to tears. This is indeed a truly special family.

Arizona Helping Hands has assisted many families on their foster care journey. Our role creates bonds of friendship and support with many, and we are blessed to meet and support everyone who steps up to love and care for children in need. Those like Victoria and Eric have etched a special place in our hearts, and taught all of us lessons on the importance of foster parenting.

Eric told us that “it is our responsibility to love and care for kids.” They have fostered 40 children over 19 years. Their 12 adoptions have included these two young boys, along with a full range of other children, including two young adults who as teenagers asked the couple to become a part of their forever family.

“A Family made me Brave and Strong”. This message was proudly printed on the shirts of the two latest adoptees.

“A Family made me Brave and Strong”. This message was proudly printed on the shirts of the two latest adoptees. It states so precisely the objective of this family. They tell every child that enters their home that they are not defined by what has happened in their lives. Their future holds a myriad of possibilities and hope, and they can succeed by using their bravery and strength, helped along with a whole lot of love and support.

The twelve children each have a personal story. Some of which will raise the hair on the back of anyone’s neck. It is so hard to hear of the abuse and neglect that children are subjected to in their short lives. I wonder how such boys and girls can overcome the gigantic obstacles put in their path, and whether they will have any chance to create a meaningful, productive life.

I have met twelve children who have been blessed by connecting with these two caring adults. They’ve been given the opportunity to experience all of the possibilities that life can present. All due to the fact that Eric and Victoria have made it their mission to step forward to love, support and encourage boys and girls in need. They’ve demonstrated that no matter how a family might come together, it’s undeniable that it is love that makes a family.

Arizona needs more families to step forward – to open their hearts and homes to children in need. We need more foster parents to love and support boys and girls. 14,000 children are in the State’s foster care system – can you make a family by providing love to one?

Arizona Helping Hands is the State’s largest provider of basic needs to children in foster care. Victoria and Eric will tell you that our services have given them the ability to say yes when the call comes to help a child (as it did recently with another sibling group of two). We have helped them with licensing safety items, beds, cribs, clothing, diapers, back to school supplies and birthday presents – and even a special cake to celebrate the family’s latest “Gotcha Day”.

Do you have the love it takes to make a family? When you choose to say yes, remember that Arizona Helping Hands is here to help you on your foster care journey.

Dan Shufelt is the President & CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, the largest provider of basic needs to Arizona’s children in foster care. Learn more about the Organization at www.azhelpinghands.org and contact Dan at dshufelt@azhelpinghands.org

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