I wanted to share an important story with you. It’s a story that shows why co-parenting works.
Like many couples, Tilza and Claudio Caceres came into our system of care intending only to adopt, and never wanting to foster. The Caceres changed their minds when they heard about a baby boy that needed a home. They boy was 10 months old and was born to a teenage mother who lived in foster care and had lost custody of her son. She had a difficult life, but now was making her best effort to regain custody of her child.
The 10 month old boy was placed with the Caceres (foster parents with His House), and they immediately made a concerted effort to employ the co-parenting skills that they acquired in their PRIDE training: engaging the biological parent as often and as much as possible in the care of her child. Tilza Caceres would consult with the biological teen mother on how best to console her son if he was upset, what songs he liked, his favorite foods and his favorite toys. The teenage mother later reported that no one had previously asked her for advice and that this made her feel respected and valued. Tilza also arranged for the biological mother to participate in the baby’s medical appointments and to join her for lunch with her son. The biological mother continued to work with a therapist on the issues that prevented her from being the primary caretaker. She told her therapist that if for any reason she could not regain custody, she would like for the Caceres to care for him.
In March, the baby had his first birthday and the foster family not only wanted to attend the birthday party, but also offered to support the mother’s efforts by purchasing the cake and decorations. The mother was excited about the upcoming celebration and asked Tilza to go with her to pick out the cake. Of course the Tilza was delighted to join her.
Sadly, the mother and Caceres never had the chance to pick out the cake nor to celebrate the baby’s first birthday. The mother, Genesis Fonseca, was murdered days later by her boyfriend.
That terrible day was a few months ago. The baby’s foster parents, Tilza and Claudio, continue to mourn this tragic loss, but feel fortunate that they had the opportunity to develop a relationship with the biological mother. With time, they can tell their soon-to-be-adopted son about his wonderful mother, whom they knew and loved. They will be able to tell the child how much his mother loved him and how hard she was working to be the mother that she wanted to be for him. Tilza has a few photos of the mother and she will create a book for the baby boy – together with all those things she knows about the mother – so that someday the child can know his mom, too.
This story is bitter in the tragic loss of a beautiful, young mother who loved her son. Given the tragedy, we find a silver lining in that
her son is being adopted into a family who wants and loves him, and it is that same family that the mother herself grew to love. The young mother wanted the Caceres to raise her son if she was unable. The Caceres will raise the child honoring his mother’s memory and will instill in him the positive force of his mother’s life.