The Chavez family
Thirteen year old Briana has lived with her foster family for six years. Her birth mom and her foster mom, Violeta Chavez, had been friends since Briana was born. Her birth mom struggled with bipolar disorder and could not keep Briana, so she begged Violeta to care for her.
Violeta, who was already her godmother, agreed. Since she’s gone to live with Violeta and her family, they’ve seen amazing growth. She often has trouble understanding where she came from and why, but for a 13-year-old, she has started to work through some of her issues.
She gets along well with Violeta’s birth children – Fatima, 10, Carol, 9, and Gabriel, 6. Briana was a natural inclusion in the family.
It forced Violeta to become a more “experienced mom” sooner than she thought but she’s grateful for it. She has seen a lot of positive changes in herself as well.
“It really is more than providing help,” she says. “Personally, it has made me grow tremendously because (something) negative I would see in her, something I didn’t like per se, it was a mirror to me. I would say, ‘The problem is not outside, isn’t within her but in me.’ I would see something negative and start to work on myself. Then I would change and things would change on the outside.
“It has been important and transforming for me as a person, as a woman, as a mother and also as a wife.”
The Navarro family
Bilma Nerida Lara Navarro has one foster son, 15-year-old Elvis. He’s lived with Bilma and her husband for five years, going from a scrawny little boy to a young man.
She heard about foster care through a radio news program, which talked about the agreement signed by the government to pilot the program in Peru. She wanted a way to help a child.
When Elvis came to live with the couple, he was shocked that he would have his own bed, his own room, his own clothes and his own TV. At the orphanage, all the children shared clothes and they certainly didn’t have their own bedroom or TV.
Bilma says the biggest change she’s seen in Elvis has been his spiritual growth. At first it was hard for him to go to church but now he talks about God and expresses his gratitude and thankfulness for what He has done. In the five years he’s lived there, he’s grown bigger – and much taller.
Their friends and family were surprised when they said they wanted to become foster parents. They thought it was shortcut to adoption; they also worried about taking in an older child and advised them to ask for an infant instead. But now, Elvis is treated as if he were born to Bilma and her husband.
“There are many people (in Peru) who don’t get it,” Bilma says. “But if you explain your experience, how wonderful it is – because it’s about learning and giving love – then they understand. Because when you give without wanting anything in return, you get a lot. God commands you.”
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