Years ago, Daisy Ledet, a public school educator, kept seeing a sign on the side of a local bus. Although it was a sign appealing to prospective foster parents, she saw it "as a sign from God."
"The last time I saw this sign, I took the number down and … I made that phone call. That was the best phone call that I could make in my life – to be a foster mom," Daisy shared.
It didn’t take much to convince her husband Paul, also a teacher, to agree.
“Well, initially, I didn’t want to do it because our kids were grown up,” Paul said. “In a way, it was like starting all over again, especially when she said we would have foster kids anywhere from 0 to 10 years old. But once it’s all said and done, once you get the first kid in your house and you see what kind of difference you make in the life of that child, you’re not going to want to quit.”
And they didn’t. They initially started fostering with another agency, but since fostering through Buckner three years ago, the parents of four adult biological children have served 21 children as foster parents, eventually adopting siblings Jacobi and Jakayla.
Daisy Ledet said the secret of the couple’s ability to care for each child is love.
“Why do I foster kids? Because I love them,” she said. “They need me and I need them. You know, a lot of people ask, ‘When are you and Mr. Paul going to stop?’ We’re not done ‘til it’s all over. I love helping. I love being a foster mom.”
Buckner foster care home developer Annie Flemon called the Ledets, “great foster parents. I tell people all the time during training, if you want to be a great foster parent, you have to have a heart for it. You can’t just say, ‘I want to come because I know God told me this is what I need to do’ or ‘I want to give back. You have to actually have a heart for these children because these children come with baggage. Paul and Daisy definitely have a heart for children.”
Parents of siblings needed
Early in their fostering career, the couple welcomed Jacobi into their home when he was only 5 days old. Just 18 months later, they found out he had a sister and welcomed her into their home as a foster child when she was 3 days old.
“When Jacobi first came to us, I said, ‘Paul, he needs us,’” Daisy recalled. “We may be of age, but to get up every night to look over his crib and say we love him ...” Her voice trailed as if remembering Jacobi, now a tall 9 year old, as a baby. “... and then a couple of months later, we get a phone call: ‘We just found out Jacobi has a sibling, and her name is Jakayla.’”
“You look at Jacobi and then you look at his sister, Jakayla, our hearts just opened up,” she continued. “That was a wonderful thing. It was a beautiful thing. It is very important to keep them together.”
Flemon said finding parents who will foster siblings “is very important. We definitely need foster parents, and we admire our foster parents for wanting to foster siblings. When siblings are removed from their families, their sibling is all they have. If you separate siblings, you separate that bond. There’s no family continuity there. And so it’s just great when you can find a family to promote that continuity so that siblings can remain together, and they can continue to grow together.”
21 ... and counting
“They have a heart for the children, and they work together as a team,” Flemon said. “Paul and Daisy have fostered 21 children through Buckner, and I believe the lives of those children who have gone from their home were changed tremendously. We’ve heard some success stories as well about some of the children who have returned to either their biological mom and dad or with another relative.”
“With 21 children,” Paul paused as if calculating the possibilities, “we still have at least 50 more to go.” He resolved his thoughts with a slight grin.
“We’re still young. We’ve got a ways to go. We can take care of some more foster kids. And we think we could do it for at least another five, 10 years,” he said. “And it’s really important to me. I didn’t think it would be initially, but we know that even if we keep the kids for three months, we know we made a positive difference in their lives. So, to me, it’s just like teaching at school. We’re making a difference. And these kids’ lives are going to be changed forever because of the two of us.”
Daisy agreed. “When you see these kids, you see the potential they have. I tell my kids they’re going to be somebody. When [foster children] come into our home, we say, ‘You’ve got a story.’ You don’t know their story, but they are graceful and they’re going to be somebody,” she shared.
“They’re going to grow up and they’re going to come back and they’re going to say thank you,” Daisy said. “Being a foster mom is joy, and it gives joy to the Ledets.”