Necco foster parents, Stephanie and Tony Garcia, passionately believe in changing the world, one life at a time. Grounded and approachable, their vision for the future is simple, yet extraordinary. Stephanie’s lively optimism is balanced by Tony’s reserved warmth as they shared their foster care journey.
How they got started into foster care
Fascinated by her youngest biological son’s nanny, who was a foster parent, Stephanie started researching over seven years ago. She knew right away that it was not a matter of if, but when she would become a foster parent. In 2016 the Garcia’s lives began changing. “I struggled with the change; I couldn't understand why these things were happening,” Stephanie said. Serendipitously, while out for dinner with friends, she met a Necco caseworker. “The more we talked, the more my reasons “why not” disappeared. I went home that night and told Tony, I think it's time. I think all these bad things, these things I was seeing as failures, was really God closing doors so He could put us where he wanted us,” Stephanie explained. With Tony’s full support, they were licensed with Necco in about six months. Their home has been open for a little over a year.
"Fostering has changed our family in ways I didn't expect, including our definition of family,” Stephanie said.
How they make it work
They rely on teamwork.
- The Garcias have a blended family because Tony and Stephanie have each been married before. The addition of foster children has caused them to rely on each other more and to function as a team.
They maintain open communication.
- They want to make sure they are hearing the needs of their children as well as each other.
They practice partnership parenting.
- This means they consider their placements’ biological families as their family as well. Tony and Stephanie agreed that they wanted any child placed with them to feel like they were a part of their family and that includes loving the people they love.
“I believe love should be multiplied, grown and expanded. There is always room for more love.” Stephanie explains.
It's not always easy
Parenthood naturally comes with struggles, but the struggles of foster parents can be quite unique, with lack of control topping the list. There is something utterly terrifying about not knowing where "your" child will be next year or if they will be safe. Not having any say so in those matters is very hard. “Finding a balance between making them ours while they are here and letting go once they are gone is probably the most difficult part of fostering, and if I'm honest, I tend to be a lot better at making them feel included and loved than I am at letting go. But, I would rather a child know they are loved and adored than protect my own heart,” Stephanie said. Knowing that a case can change in a week, even a day sometimes is very frustrating.
But there is a lot of reward
Of course, the moments of inspiration, warmth, or love are what help every foster parent through the moments of darkness. Stephanie recalled meeting their first biological family for the first time. While she was initially concerned about the drama that might ensue, meeting the mother and seeing the gratitude she had for them changed her life. “If this woman, who could have chosen to see me as the enemy, could extend grace and gratitude to me, surely I could do the same,” Stephanie said.
Like so many others, Fostering has changed the Garcias. “I don't know where this journey will take us and I don't know how long we will be on this path. But, I know that we will forever advocate and educate. I know that we will set out to do more good in the world. Tony tells me all the time "we can't change the world Steph," and he's right.
We can't change the whole world, but we can change someone's world, and I want to do that as many times as we can,” Stephanie exclaimed.
Necco will be there every step of the way. If you want to change someone's world, learn more about how you can become a foster parent.