Definition of Fostering
"Hugging and kissing babies that you know were not getting hugged and kissed. Feeding babies you know were not being fed, or not being properly fed..." - Betty Carricaburu
We had the pleasure of chatting with Betty Carricaburu, Biological Mom to 1 beautiful little girl, Foster Mom to 1 lucky child at a time.
She shares a little about what it means to be a foster mom, and you can listen to her initial journey into motherhood in the podcast Dream Chasers and Change Makers, Episode 8.
Q: What’s your real mom story?
I became a mom at 23 years old, through a spontaneous relationship. He and I had been in a casual flirty relationship for about 8 months when I found out I was pregnant. I consider myself to have been a single mom for the most part, until I officially became one when I asked him to leave (for real, for real, for real) when my daughter was about 2.5 years old.
Then I got with my current partner. We’ve known each other since we were 14.
I recorded a whole entire episode with a lot of detail on Dream Chasers and Change Makers, Episode 8.
Q: You have a biological daughter. What made you decide to foster? Are you able to have more kids of your own?
I believe I will be able to have kids of my own. We are planning to start trying after we get married next month! Fostering has always been something I knew I wanted to do. As mentioned, my fiancé and I have known each other since we were 14, and it is something we ALWAYS said we would do. We are both people who love giving back, and we both have a soft spot for children. Once we moved into our apartment, we brought it up one day and just realized, there is never a right time to start, so why not now. We got certified March 2019.
Q: How does fostering affect your relationship and home-life with your daughter and/or partner?
It has definitely made my partner and I stronger. He came into my life (again) when my daughter was about 4. Being foster parents, I get to see how he is with newborns, two year old’s, grouchy kids, sleepy babies—a little bit of everything which makes me excited for when we get to have biological kids of our own! It has made him step up too, because he came into the relationship as a young single guy and quickly took on the role of being a father to children that are not his at all. That made me admire him a lot.
With my daughter it is tough to balance making sure I am giving the kids and her equal amounts of love and attention. Our current placement is very attached to me, and I have seen some instances of jealousy or sibling rivalry with my daughter. I believe it is only helping to strengthen her big sister skills for when we bring in babies that will be with us, FOREVER! I do make sure I am giving her special time just her and I alone, and I do thank her when she is being a good big sister and helping around the house, so she feels included as well.
Q: Do you guys want more kids?
Yes! He wants six total; I am good with two more. Ha-ha!
Q: If you have more kids, will you be hesitant to foster in the future?
I think about this a lot, and I do not know! I would like to say that I would pause fostering, especially when I have my own newborns, but it is so hard for me to turn away now that I have started!
What if I have a case that goes well into after I bring my own baby home? I would never make that child leave.
Q: How many do you foster at a time? Do you have a preference/affinity towards girls or boys, or do you specialize in a certain age group?
We are certified for one at a time. Our personal rule of thumb is anyone younger than my daughter. It has to be ‘girls only’ because the baby’s crib is in my daughter’s room, and after 3 years of age you cannot have different genders in the same room. Up to 12 months old a baby can sleep in the parent’s room, so we have also had a baby boy (he was just 5 weeks when he came to us!). I love, love, love the 12 – 36 months age group.
Q: What are some of the requirements to be able to foster a child?
A loving heart and open arms!
A house fit for watching children. A person cannot be on government help. No criminal charges against children; no history of sexual violence or abuse. Proof of having an income steady enough to where you are not relying on the monthly stipend to meet the child’s needs.
Q: Does it consume a lot of your personal income/time?
Time yes!! Ha-ha. Income, not really. You do get a monthly stipend (very small, monthly stipend) and there is a lot of support in the community. I have received several generous donations through people I have met on social media and from other foster parents. The agency pays for childcare, and up to 5 years old you receive WIC for the children to help with the cost of food. What I spend the most money on is diapers! I would love to set up a diaper bank in the future for foster parents!
Q: How do you think your daughter feels about fostering, now that she is getting older?
I know she has an awareness of the fact that the children are not with their parents. We explain it to her as “the mommies are sick, or not ready to raise their kids” which in her little mind I am not sure how she processes it. I can’t wait to see what she says about it when she is in high school or college, how she will talk about the experience.
Q: I’m sure you get attached; do you think she gets attached?
I believe she does, but I am not sure how deep it is. She still talks about a lot of the babies we have had; like “remember when so and so did this and that thing?” With this case now, the baby will be with us at least six more months, I am not sure how any of us will react when she gets reunified with family!
Q: What has been the most difficult part or experience thus far as a foster mom?
Lack of sleep! I forgot what that was like! With the five-week-old I was dying! Not to mention I had my wisdom teeth pulled during that time. Waking up to feed and change him, plus having a mouth full of blood was NOT FUN.
Another time we had a girl with a CRAZY schedule. She would sleep for four hours at a time, all day long. It was great when she would sleep from noon to four, but then she would [be up for four hours], sleep from 8 pm to midnight, and then be up again ‘til 3 am! That was not fun. We had her for about four days while her grandmother got her paperwork and house checked out. Another foster parent that had the baby’s brother, said he had the same sleep schedule!
Q: What has been the most rewarding?
Hugging and kissing babies that you know were not getting hugged and kissed. Feeding babies you know were not being fed, or not being properly fed. Seeing a baby’s first smile and first steps and celebrating it with them. Having a mom who showed up drunk and high to court look you in the eyes and tell you “thank you”. Knowing she had that much awareness to know their child is being cared for. Having Facetime calls with mom, and seeing her HUGE smile when she realizes how much her child has learned in such a short time. All of it, there is no feeling like that.
Q: What would you say to other people considering becoming foster parents?
It is definitely a labor of love. It is important to be flexible and be okay with not knowing what an outcome could be. When I got the five week old, they told me he would be with us for a week tops, and it turned into a month. This current baby might be with us for 6 months, maybe less, maybe more! I’ve heard of parents being told it would be a quick foster to adoption case, and then it’s been 16 months and they still don’t know the outcome. But if you like kids and have a big heart, it is very rewarding.
You can look up 'Foster' in any dictionary, online or other, and you'll find pretty much the same definition; but none of them depict more clearly the love that came through in Betty's responses to our questions.
Thank you Betty for sharing some of your experience with us. There are so many kinds of moms out there; these kids are lucky to have you.
If you would like to donate diapers or other items for foster parents like Betty, please drop off at:
Real Moms Miami, LLC
4747 SW 89th Ave
Miami, Florida 33189
(Please leave bag or box inside by the gate or by the front door; leave a personal note or tag if possible, so we know who to thank.)
-Real Moms Miami
- Encourage or promote the development of (something, typically something regarded as good).
- Bring up (a child that is not one's own by birth).