May 20, 2021
May is National Foster Care Month and an opportunity to support the heroes who give of themselves so children can have someone to call family. CERI is part of the global movement to grow foster care in countries where it is not yet developed. We help foster families around the world through counseling, teaching parenting skills and providing financial support. Here is a story of one mom making a difference for kids at home and around the world.
Cathy Via-Reque has an identity in motherhood that is as complex and rich as a Monet. Her role as a parent has been tested by many unexpected turns, guiding her to see value in everyone, and giving her a desire to do something that lets others feel they belong.
Cathy spent much of her life in the Midwest, where she married, had two children and eventually separated from her first husband. Among the pain in that separation was accepting that her children might now make cherished memories without her. There were snowball fights and grocery trips and inside jokes she may never know. But becoming content with that new reality would be the first of many lessons in her journey.
After Cathy had her own children, she found that becoming a biological mother had only strengthened a desire she always had to foster or adopt. “I love my kids so much, and I give them all I can,” Cathy said. “To see kids who don’t have that, it breaks my heart…. Everybody needs a mom or a parent to love them. Nobody should be alone.” There is a helplessness in her when she thinks about children who did not have strong role models. However, “you come to realize, you can make a difference just helping one child,” Cathy said. “If you help one child, that’s one less child that has to go through life without a parent.”
When Cathy married the man who today is her husband, Alfonso, they formed a new family. Alfonso’s daughter was already an adult, and for him, it took time to learn to be a father again to Cathy’s children. But soon enough it came naturally.
Cathy had shared her interest in foster care and adoption with Alfonso early in their relationship, but Alfonso didn’t seem interested in the idea of never retiring from parenthood. They prayed together that God might guide them, and Cathy never forgot her dream to be the reason a child had someone to call family.
Soon, the Via-Reques moved from Chicago to San Antonio, where one of their first orders of business was finding a church where they could build community. Cathy and Alfonso pour themselves into their faith and fellowship as Christians. Cathy has worked in the nursery and Alfonso in the youth group. They volunteer on Saturdays and attend small group on Sundays.
Cathy’s commitment to her faith goes beyond attendance at church. She sponsors a child through CERI and volunteers with St. Jude’s Ranch. Cathy’s gifts of time and money are an extension of knowing she can’t help everyone, but that helping even one makes a difference.
After years of deliberation and prayer about foster care and adoption, today the Via-Reque family proudly includes 3-year-old Mary, whom they adopted in 2020. Mary loves comedy, Cathy said, following up her own or other’s jokes with the question, “That’s funny, right mom?” She loves singing, especially songs from the movie Frozen. Mary became part of the Via-Reque family right as COVID-19 altered the world to be a more home-bound place, which in many ways has been a blessing during these crucial first years.
Cathy said Mary has recently started coming out of her room in the mornings all on her own, a big step in Mary’s young life considering what she has experienced. “If there was no other trauma, just being removed from a parent causes trauma for that child,” said Cathy. “There are trust issues with kids with trauma that our biological kids don’t have. And even if they don’t realize it – even if it all happened when they were really young – their body remembers that.”
Becoming a parent to Mary looks as different as becoming one to Cathy’s own children, or to her adult stepdaughter. It is like the care she gives as a volunteer with teenagers in foster care, or as a CERI donor who supports children in countries half a world away. It is wholly unique, wholly the same. It is motherhood. Complicated, scary, selfless; a journey of patience like the rings of a tree, each telling stories, each building layers that create a foundation strong enough to survive the years to come.
Would you like to support foster families around the world and be part of the reason a child has someone to call family?