According to recent estimates, there are more than 15,000 foster-care children in Arizona. Children range in age from newborn to 18 and are from diverse ethnicities and family backgrounds. Many in our community hear about the need for foster-care families to open their homes to these children, but few accept the challenge. According to current foster parents, the first step to helping Arizona’s foster crisis is to overcome the fear to foster.
Anissa Pongratz was lucky. She grew up with friends who were part of a foster family and saw the strong bond that all the children had with the foster parents. “I loved the idea of becoming a foster parent since meeting this family. When preparing to be married, I talked with my fiancée about the option of fostering and adopting, and he was in full agreement. We had a mutual desire since the beginning of our marriage, and we left the timing up to God,” says Anissa.
Since 2013, Pongratz has received foster children and adopted children through the program at Catholic Charities.
“Becoming a foster parent brings many anxieties to the surface. My house is too small, we don't make enough money, I have two kids, how can I bring in another, and on it goes. Trust me when I say, these foster kids don't care what your house looks like or how big it is. They don't care how much money you make, and honestly, they probably love having other kids to play with (your biological children)! All these anxieties melt away once you hear their stories,” says Anissa. “I remember thinking, if this little guy can be happy and play after all he has been through, who am I to have this silly fear limiting me?
“Being a foster parent has taught me many things, and I have gained more from the relationship than the foster kids did! I see society a bit differently. It has opened my eyes to a community outside of the one I live in and am comfortable in. I have learned to be less selfish. I learned to slow down and worry a little less about the small stuff!”