Foster Care and Adoption

Catholic Charities foster care program helps qualified individuals and couples become licensed foster parents. Our case managers facilitate the initial training and continue to provide ongoing training, resources and support. We recruit and support foster parents, therapeutic foster parents, kinship foster parents and unaccompanied minor foster parents.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

From Tragedy to Triumph - The Life of Foster Parents

Mimi Condon of Gilbert, Ariz. never imagined that reading an ad in the newspaper asking for foster parents would change her life so completely.

“I saw this ad for Catholic Charities that said you can be a working parent, and still be a foster parent. I talked to my husband (Tom), and we started training with Catholic Charities.” The couple had two biological children, both girls, ages 10 and 11 at the time. But after experiencing two miscarriages and finding out how many children were in need of care in the system, the Condons knew fostering was meant to be.

Off to a Rough Start

But it certainly hasn’t always been easy. In fact, their first foster experience was one that took a life-changing emotional toll. While some may have quit after such an experience, the Condons forged ahead, even more determined to help children.

“Our first placement was these two boys, siblings. There were three siblings, but the girl was already placed, so we took in both boys, who were 14 months apart.”

The Condons worked with the biological parents and developed a relationship with them. They stayed in close contact, they texted and talked with them on the phone. They helped them as much as they could. They kept them engaged with the goal of reuniting them with their children.

“We felt pretty proud of ourselves,” Mimi said. We were like, “Wow, look how good we did. Little did we know.” It all came crashing down with one phone call.

Mimi got a call one night that the boys’ sister, the one who had been placed with a different foster family, then also reunited with the biological parents, was in a coma after being beaten. She was only 3 years old. The little girl later died from her injuries. It forever changed Mimi, she said.

The children’s mother was taken to jail, and both parents were later sentenced to 15 years in prison. Both of the boys were placed back with the Condons on a temporary basis. But they were no longer the boys they had worked so hard to make happy for five months. They were completely different — traumatized — when they came back to the Condons. It was heartbreaking.

That only fueled Mimi’s desire to do even more to help children. From there, the Condons kept going as foster parents and learned more and more with each experience. “I wouldn’t have planned this for us at all, but someone else (God) planned it for us,” she said. Mimi went on to become a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and is on the board of the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents (AZAFAP) as well as being involved with other children’s advocacy agencies and groups around the Valley. She also trains foster families and tries to help prepare them as much as possible.

From Foster to Adopt

The Condons have fostered 15 children, all ages 0-5. tragedy triump 2 225x306They have adopted four of the children, all boys, since their start as foster parents in 2006: A 10-month old, an 8-month old, a 5-week old and a 2-day old (at the time of placement). Following months of fostering and communication with the Department of Children and Family Services, each time, the Condons knew they needed to adopt each child.

In 2015, they both agreed that they would only foster, and no longer adopt. They had enough on their plates. In fact, they told everyone — Catholic Charities, the Department of Child Saftey, (DCS), and other agencies — they were done adopting. Then they got a note that their current little boy was going to be placed back in the system. Mimi says something told her to check with her husband one more time before saying “no.” She held the baby and went to talk to her husband. He said, “How can we not?” So, they became the parents of a sixth child.

Preparing Their Children to Give Back

The Condons are proud of who their biological children have become as part of their foster experience. At ages 22 and 23 now, both have expressed a desire to give back to the community.

When the family started fostering, the girls were 10 and 11 years old. But rather than create a burden, the experience brought the family even closer to together. The girls weren’t interested in going out to parties. Instead, they made lunches together, they read stories to the kids and they changed diapers. They enjoyed the experiences, bonded with the children, and will continue to give back as they get older and have families of their own.

Mimi’s Advice

The road was always very up and down, said Mimi. At one point, the Condons let their license expire because they were feeling spent. But after some reflection, they renewed it because, “there is so much more work that needs to be done. There are so many children that need help.”

Through it all, she says she just wants to help other foster parents. “We had wonderful training through Catholic Charities, and Elena was fantastic!” But nothing can prepare you for all the little things you have to learn by doing.”

She encourages others who are considering fostering to step up to the plate. “Please do it. But I’d want them to have a mentor, someone who can walk through them the system. There is so much to learn. Seriously, look me up, I will help you.”

If you’re considering becoming a foster parent, please contact the Catholic Charities Foster Care Program. Staff members can help answer questions, and provide training and assistance with licensure. or 602-943-3843.

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