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Grandmother-Raising-Five-Grandchildren-Gets-Help-Gives-Help-with-Assist-from-Boys-Town-TexasGrandmother Raising Five Grandchildren Gets Help, Gives Help with Assist from Boys Town TexasTexas
Mercedes and her five grandchildren (left to right): Valentina, 12; Augustine, 11; Leeleeya, 14; Marina, 8; and Paul, 5
Friday, Oct 14, 2016

​​​Mercedes Bristol admits she felt lost and overwhelmed.

Already experiencing major challenges with raising one grandson, the single grandmother faced the prospect of taking in four more grandchildren.

But that's what Mercedes did. And thanks to some timely help from Boys Town Texas, she and her family are doing fine.

Mercedes' household first grew by one when her son's son, Paul, came to live with her after being removed from his home by Child Protective Services (CPS). Paul had health issues but the young boy and his grandmother began to bond and she soon felt somewhat comfortable with the idea of caring for him.

Then things changed dramatically.

Paul's four siblings from another mother – Marina, Augustine, Valentina and Leeleeya – had nowhere to go when they too were removed from their home by CPS. Mercedes was the only family member who could take them in.

"I was absolutely lost when I got all the rest of the kids," Mercedes said. "Paul had a difficult time sharing me with the other four grandchildren. The oldest was 9 and the youngest was 3 at the time. I was totally overwhelmed."

Mercedes said other people who learned of her situation offered to help.

"Everyone tells you, 'Ms. Bristol, just tell us what you need.' But I had no idea what I needed," Mercedes said. "I didn't know where to start. It was a very trying time. The only thing to ask for was someone to come and help me care for the children in order for me to have some respite. No one offered that."

"I went through several sources. I asked the question, 'Why don't schools have a resource list for parents or guardians who need help?'"

That question led Mercedes to take an important step. She decided to start a support group for grandparents who were raising their grandchildren. It would provide grandparents with helpful resources and information, or just a caring ear to listen to their stories.

Mercedes said the best advice she received was to contact Boys Town Texas.

Mercedes found out the site in San Antonio offered a Common Sense Parenting® class led by Maria Benavidez, a Boys Town Texas In-Home Family Services supervisor. Mercedes said she attended the class with the hope that Maria could help recruit other grandparents for her support group.

"I completed the entire six weeks in Common Sense Parenting," Mercedes said proudly. "And after that, I had In-Home Family Services come into my home. Andres Guzman was my case manager. I really implemented the Boys Town suggestions. Most kids hate chores, but with Andres' coaching, I implemented a 'Job Jar' and a 'Joy Jar.' The children wrote down what their jobs and their joys were going to be and placed them in jars. When they did not do what they were expected to do, the kids would go to the Job Jar where they took a piece of paper and that was their chore until completion. They liked it, and even accepted the responsibility."

Mercedes said she doesn't know what she would have done without Boys Town's help.

"Structure works for me," she said. "Boys Town really helped me by having the children write schedules in order to establish everyday patterns. Andres gave me ideas. And he gave me personal support in finding dental assistance since I retired without medical benefits. More than anything, Maria and Andres helped me be positive and believe I could do it. There was always someone there for me."

Mercedes even started her own Facebook page to help other grandparents. It's called "Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group." She also is an advocate for grandparents who are in her situation, going to public officials to seek policy changes that will benefit those caregivers.

"I don't have all the answers," Mercedes said. "But the group can share experiences, both good and bad, and maybe it will help ​someone out when they need somewhere to turn. I also share the things I have learned from Boys Town with other grandparents and invite them to contact Boys Town to get the same help that I received."​​

texas-holds-book-fair-for-boys-town-youthTexas Holds Book Fair for Boys Town YouthTexas
Friday, Aug 12, 2016

​​On July 13, Boys Town Texas hosted a book fair where 65 youth from Foster Care, In-Home Family Services and Common Sense Parenting® classes were each able to take home four books, one toy and one backpack. There were even Girl Scout Cookies for everyone to enjoy.

“They were really grateful,” Alexa Padalecki, Donor Relations Specialist, said. “I think we take for granted how much joy a book can bring. [Boys Town youth] don’t necessarily have the opportunity [to read on an iPad] or go to Barnes and Noble and pick out a new book.”

SAReads, a project of Literacy San Antonio, Inc,. whose goal is to significantly increase literacy and education attainment, donated over 100 books to Boys Town Texas. Those donations and the donations from other community members over the past year made the second annual book fair possible.

“Especially in the summer, it’s important for the youth to keep reading,” Padalecki said. “I think it’s important to instill a love of learning and reading and discovery at a young age.”

To add to the excitement, the fair was paired with the donations Boys Town Texas received from KENS 5 Sports Anchor, Vinnie Vinzetta. At the end of June, Vinzetta celebrated his birthday week by doing a random act of kindness each day. One of his random acts was donating brand​​ new toys to Boys Town.

The youth who attended the book fair were able to choose from a wide variety of summer toys, such as Slip ‘N Slides, giant bubbles makers, basketballs, footballs and more.

Thanks again to Literacy San Antonio, Inc., and Vinnie ​Vinzetta for your generous donations!

Read more about how to make learning fun during the summer on Boys Town’s Teachable Moments blog.

11-year-old-girls-become-devoted-supporters-of-boys-town-texas11-Year-Old Girls Become Devoted Supporters of Boys Town TexasTexas
Friday, Aug 5, 2016

While many supporters of Boys Town tend to be adults, there is a lesser-known group of donors—children—who also do great things to support the mission. Two of these young supporters, ​Jacqueline Fentress and Ava Daetwyler have become big supporters of Boys Town Texas over the last few years.

Jacqueline Fentress’s knowledge of Boys Town started young. Her grandfather was a long-time supporter of Boys Town’s mission, donating to the Texas site most of his life. Although Jacqueline’s grandfather had passed away before her birth, his passion for the mission lives on through her.

A few years ago, Jacqueline and her older brother decided to volunteer, and choosing Boys Town Texas to give their time seemed like an easy choice. After working with Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Development Director, the pair spent a day cleaning flowerbeds at the site.

When it came time for Jacqueline’s 10th birthday in October 2014, the young girl believed she had all the presents she wanted, deciding instead to give back to the organization she felt most connected to. After working with the other students at her school to collect donations, the Fentress family was overwhelmed by the amount of support they had received.

The family had collected dozens of dance costumes, wigs, Halloween costumes, and costume jewelry, which were hand-delivered by Jacqueline to the children at Boys Town Texas.

The next year, Jacqueline wanted to keep this new tradition alive. She decided to have a joint 11th birthday party with her friend, Ava Daetwyler, but instead of asking for presents, the girls asked for monetary donations. Inviting the entire class to their party, the girls raised nearly $400, which was presented to Boys Town Texas at its annual Race to Prevent Child Abuse on April 2, 2016.

“Jacqueline and Ava are amazing young ladies who believe in paying it forward,” said Joyce Horner. “They got several of their friends involved in supporting Boys Town Texas. We are truly blessed by the generosity of these young ladies!”

Seeing her work make a difference in the community with an organization she holds close to her heart continues to motivate Jacqueline to do more. With the success of her collections, she plans on continuing this birthday tradition for years to come.

Boys Town thanks Jacqueline and Ava for their gifts to Boys Town Texas, as well as the many other youth around the country who selflessly donate their time and treasure to support the mission.

wave-pool-wednesday-promotes-boys-town-texasWave Pool Wednesday Promotes Boys Town Texas Texas
Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016

​​Boys Town Texas has​ partnered with Splashtown San Antonio to help raise awareness of child abuse prevention and to inform on and recruit families for the services Boys Town Texas has to offer through an event called Wave Pool Wednesday.

Romeo Cruz, Common Sense Parenting Supervisor, has been a disc jockey at Splashtown San Antonio for the past four years, and after a discussion with the water park's vice president, they concluded that Boys Town Texas would be an exceptional partnership to have.

“Music is incredibly powerful in the impact it can have on a person’s mood and behavior,” Cruz said. “Most families that attend musical events and theme parks are looking to connect more with their own family. By combining music and the need to bond, families are more receptive to learning what Boys Town has to offer.”

The goal of the event is centered on Boys Town’s mission to help children and their families. However, the focus is on the music and the water park experience that brings them closer together. Additionally, the event serves as an opportunity to make families aware of Boys Town’s parenting classes, in-home services and foster care.

Wave Pool Wednesdays takes place every Wednesday throughout the summer from 12 - 4 p.m. The event offers plenty of games, prizes, information for parents and a music series with DJ Dr. Cruz.

Splashtown San Antonio offers more than 50 rides and attractions, including a wave pool, lazy river, 14 full-sized waterslides, a basketball court, sand volleyball courts and more.

The event is in its sixth week and Boys Town Texas has already seen a great response from attendants.

spurs-sports-and-entertainment-donates-tickets-to-boys-town-familiesSpurs Sports and Entertainment Donates Tickets to Boys Town FamiliesTexas
Monday, Jul 11, 2016

​​Sporting ​events are a normal part of life. From childhood into adulthood, many individuals seek out and attend high school, college and professional games for the competitive and entertaining atmosphere. Yet for many children at Boys Town, they have never had the opportunity to attend a game.

Now, thanks to Spurs Sports & Entertainment, they do.

Joyce Horner, Development Director at Boys Town Texas, has “a great relationship with the Community Responsibility Coordinator for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.” The company has sent Boys Town around 20 tickets to the last few San Antonio Stars games. The tickets are Plaza Level, allowing the youth and their families to be close to the action.

The Stars, a Women’s National Basketball Association in San Antonio, are coached by Dan Hughes and play at the AT&T Center. The games draw a large crowd with average an attendance of more than 7,000 people.

Spurs Sports & Entertainment has also donated tickets to San Antonio Spurs National Basketball Association games and San Antonio FC professional soccer games.

“It is such an awesome experience for our children to be at the AT&T Center watching professional athletes,” Horner said.

The tickets are distributed “to the kids and families in all of our programs, and if some are left over, to our staff and their families.”

Julius Hunter, Foster Care Consultant, and Lindy Best, In-Home Family Services Consultant have the opportunity to distribute tickets to the families they work with. The families who receive the tickets are based on availability and who has expressed interest.

“Often we receive tickets with a short amount of lead time and so we have to go with those whose schedule is open on short notice,” Hunter said.

Best explained that “some families don’t have the means to be spending money but still need the quality time and opportunity to go out in the community and bond with children.” Since many families have three or four kids, attending events is costly.

“They really appreciate the tickets,” she said.

The basketball games are more than just entertainment. They serve as a learning and enrichment opportunity, allowing the youth in Boys Town care programs to expand their horizons and see what’s out there in the world.

“Attending a sporting event like this is so important because it provides normalcy for the children, which is something we want to provide every child in care,” Hunter said. “Most of us can recall the day we went to the big game with mom or dad, and we want our kids to have this same experience and be able to share it with others.”

Best said that it “broadens their minds” and “raises their spirits. It’s motivating.”

Something as simple as a basketball game can have a huge impact on the youths’ lives.

“The kids talk about the experience for weeks after and the thought of it brings a big smile to their faces,” Hunter said. “Many of these kids come from homes where they did not have these simple opportunities.”

Opportunities that most people take for granted.

Thank you to Spurs Sports & Entertainment for providing our children and families with these opportunities!

a-foster-couple-reflects-on-life-with-boys-town-texasA Foster Couple Reflects On Life with Boys Town TexasTexas
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

​​Kevin and Kelli Bueker of Boys Town Texas have been fostering children in the San Antonio, Texas area for four months. Learn more about their lives as a foster couple below. If you're interested in being a foster parent, call 210-271-1010 or get started today.

  1. How did you get involved in becoming a Foster Couple?
    I (Kevin) was working with an organization that helped provide mentors for youth that were aging out of foster care, and I really saw a significant gap in most of these young men and women's lives where a family should have been. The stories of 30, 40 or 50 placements were heart-wrenching, and seeing the reality of how much they struggled with early adulthood deeply affected me. I kept feeling like there was more that we could do, so Kelli and I began praying about how we could be involved, and we decided that we would become foster parents, and we would focus on adolescents and sibling groups.
  2. What is the typical age of children you care for?
    We are licensed for ages 6-17; so far, we have had kids ranging from 10-16 years old.
  3. What is a typical day like for a foster family?
    I imagine it's like most other typical nuclear families. We get up and get ready for school/work, spend time together after we get home, work on homework, eat dinner together and do fun activities before getting ready for bed. We try hard to be very intentional about learning more about each other with fun games, and we take the opportunities to teach lessons wherever possible, but I believe we function like any other family.
  4. How has this commitment impacted you?
    It hasn’t always been easy, but it's allowed us to learn more about being patient and being self-less. It's also led us to a deeper understanding of what true sacrifice looks like and so the sacrifice by Jesus Christ for our sins is increasingly apparent to me every day. I'm humbled by that. It's also strengthened our marriage, allowed us the opportunity to learn to communicate with each other more effectively and improved our ability to be teammates.
  5. What do you wish more people understood about foster care?
    I wish more people understood that the care older kids receive in the system is truly at crisis levels. I believe that kids are truly one caring adult away from having a successful life and yet, many kids every year age-out without ever encountering that one caring adult. I wish more people realized that a child in care is not a "bad child" and to learn to empathize with these kids' situations. Every child, from every situation, deserves a ​chance to be successful.

Boys Town thanks the many foster couples who open up their homes and their hearts to children who need it most.

boys-town-texas-holds-record-setting-race-for-child-abuse-preventionBoys Town Texas Holds Record-Setting Race for Child Abuse PreventionTexas
Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

Boys Town Texas hosted its sixth annual ​Race to Prevent Child Abuse on Saturday, April 2, 2016 at Valero Energy Corporation Headquarters. More than 100 volunteers, 815 runners, and many more family and friends came out to support the participants in the day’s 5K and 10K races.

The beautiful, sunny weather welcomed families, children, and pets. Many of the children were dressed in capes and tutu’s all ready to run or walk together in this family-fun event. Police Chief William McManus signaled the beginning of the races with his bullhorn and police sirens.

All children under the age of 12 were given participation medals, and Team Spirit Award winners were Tesoro Corporation taking first place, with Capital Group Companies taking second.

Besides running, participants and spectators could enjoy Zumba sessions and a variety of food from local vendors.

The event gave Boys Town the opportunity to kick off Child Abuse Prevention month in a big way. Along the race route, statistics on child abuse were placed to raise awareness of the seriousness of child abuse and neglect.

“I am blessed to be part of such amazing organization with such great support from our board and enthusiasm from the community,” said Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Development Director. “We broke records this year with the amount of participants we had and the amount of money we raised. We couldn’t have asked for a better day!”

The race grossed $90,000, with all proceeds benefitting Boys Town Texas’s mission of Saving Children and Healing Families. Boys Town would like to thank everyone who worked diligently to prepare this event and all participants who helped make it a success!

working-together-to-end-child-abuseWorking Together to End Child AbuseTexas
Monday, Apr 11, 2016

Governor Greg Abbott has proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has launched a public education campaign aimed at helping parents deal with the challenges and stresses that can lead to child abuse and neglect.

"Parenting is hard and stressful, so it's crucial that we support parents in every way we can to help prevent abuse," said Judge John Specia, commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. "But if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, please report it so we can investigate to make sure the child's safe and the parents get the help they need.”

CPS investigated more than 176,868 allegations of child abuse or neglect in Texas last year. 171 children died at the hands of a parent or other caregivers. 66,721 children and teens were victims of abuse or neglect and 17,151 were removed from their homes for their own protection.  

If you or a parent you know are struggling, please visit the Parenting section of our website. Here, parents will find expert articles, videos and tips for dealing with some of the most challenging aspects of parenting.

You can also visit, the parenting website for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services "Help for Parents, Hope for Kids" campaign. For this month-long campaign in April, Child Protective Services (CPS) is joining with local governments, community groups, service organizations, and other partners to put the spotlight on preventing, recognizing, and reporting child abuse. See the events in our area.

Boys Town Texas is proud of the state of Texas' strong efforts to stop child abuse and neglect.

If you suspect child abuse, report it by calling 800-252-5400.


pilot-project-provides-new-opportunities-for-boys-town-texasPilot Project Provides New Opportunities for Boys Town TexasTexas
Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016

Boys Town Texas has been selected to partake in a Military Prevention Project for the state of Texas. The project planning began last year in response to the high-rate of abuse and neglect among military families in Texas. Three cities were identified as areas having high concentrations of military families and are the main focus of the project: San Antonio, El Paso and Killeen.

United Way has been selected as the organization to oversee the pilot project in San Antonio. Boys Town Texas submitted a letter of inquiry to United Way outlining their matrix of services and was chosen along with 10 other agencies to provide services to selected military families.

This April, Boys Town Texas will begin providing Common Sense Parenting® classes for parents of school-aged kids and In-Home Family Services to military families, serving an additional 100 families and 250 children a year. Boys Town is hiring three new staff members to help provide these services.

The prevention project also brings new, exciting partnership opportunities to the Texas site. KLRN, the San Antonio PBS provider, is another agency partnering with United Way in the Military Prevention Project. The TV station began hosting play groups for military families with children ages newborn to five-years-old. The play group teaches developmental play and shows parents how to use items in their home to help their child learn and be prepared for school.

During a military project meeting, staff members from KLRN expressed the need for locations to host the 11-week long program. Boys Town Texas jumped at the chance to have a program at their site as they are centrally located in San Antonio and have wanted to broaden their services to military families for several years. The play group sessions began in early January and have seen nearly 20 military families attending each week.

Boys Town Texas Executive Director, Janie Cook, says hosting the play groups is not only a great way to build community partnerships, but also helps spread Boys Town’s mission in San Antonio with military families. “The chance to host these play groups at our campus is a great opportunity for us to spread awareness of Boys Town Texas,” said Cook. “As the play group comes to an end, we hope to present to these families on all of the services we offer and to recruit new Foster Parents.”

The Military Prevention Project has a two-year contract and Boys Town Texas looks forward to seeing the impact they can make in the community through serving more children and families.

boutique-builds-self-esteem-and-confidence-for-teens-in-needBoutique Builds Self-Esteem and Confidence for Teens in NeedTexas
Tuesday, Feb 9, 2016

This article is written by Amanda Weber, News 4 San Antonio . It was posted on February 8, 2016 on Click the link to watch a video and read the story.

For a girl in her teens, a new outfit can lift their self-esteem and for one who is living in foster care it can show them they are loved and cared for. We take you inside a new boutique set up especially for teen girls in need of some TLC.

"Most of our items as you can see are all brand new and by size, so its easy for the girls to shop," said Cathy Hamilton, boutique manager, Threads for Teens.

For Cathy Hamilton running this boutique is truly a labor of love.

"Clothing to teen girls is everything and it is tough to be a teen girl in foster care, its tough being a teen girl anyways and clothing is confidence," Hamilton said.

Hamilton started Threads for Teens last week. The boutique offers clothing to girls age 13 to 18 in foster care here in San Antonio. She says there are currently 1,000 teen girls in foster care in the Alamo City. Hamilton served as an advocate for CASA here in San Antonio for 5 years, she says many teens come into foster care with just the clothes they have on their backs.

"The foster care system is over whelmed, everyone I think is doing the best they can but this is a way to support those agencies, foster parents, group homes, but basically the teens," Hamilton said.

The boutique sits inside the building that houses Boys Town Texas. Executive Director Janie Cook says the impact this shop makes on these girls is evident when they leave.

"Maybe people will think it's just an outfit, but it's not, it's much bigger than that and so if you see that, just in their smiles then you know it's bigger than that," said Janie Cook, executive director, Boys Town Texas.

After the girls have picked out their clothes and had a great time, they are asked to fill out a card expressing their thanks and kind of what they thought of the boutique, if you take a minute and you look at this bulletin board you see the greater impact this place has.

"I had one of the girls tell me, I feel so warm and so happy when I am in here and I am like, that's it, that is exactly it," Hamilton said.

Threads for Teens is looking primarily for new clothing. If you would like to donate, they are most in need for girl's bras, underwear and pajamas. You can contact the organization at

generous-donations-bring-joy-to-texas-youthGenerous Donations Bring Joy to Texas YouthTexas
Monday, Feb 1, 2016

From gift cards to new clothes and toys, donations poured in from all over San Antonio to bring holiday cheer to Boys Town Texas youth and families.

“We have our youth and families fill out wish lists for Christmas and then distribute these wish lists to companies and people who have contacted us wanting to help make our youth have a special holiday,” said Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Development Director.

Thanks to the generosity of organizations and the Greehey Family Foundation, around 70 Boys Town youth, Foster Care, In-Home and Common Sense Parenting families were able to have presents to open Christmas morning. Both the North Central Baptist Hospital and Olive Garden locations had “Angel Trees” set-up with the Boys Town Texas youth and families wish lists. Anyone could take an angel from the tree and choose to sponsor a youth or family for Christmas.

“It was great to see the outpouring of support from the community,” said Horner.

The military even got involved. After having a meal at the Olive Garden and seeing the Boys Town Angel Tree, Horner received an email from a Marine asking how he and his troop could help support Boys Town. Military service men and women from the Marines, Army and Air Force all came together to donate gifts.

Boys Town Texas would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who helped make Christmas such a joyous time for all of the families and youth in our care!

"A man is never as tall as when he stoops to help a child." - Father Edward Flanagan

valero-donates-60000Valero Donates $60,000Texas
Monday, Dec 14, 2015

Boys ​Town Texas received $60,000 from the Valero Foundation for their Continuum of Care thanks to proceeds from the 2015 Valero Texas Open Benefit for Children. Boys Town Texas has received support from the Valero Benefit for Children since 2002.

“I don’t know what we would do without Valero’s generosity to the children’s charities in Texas,” said Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Development Director. “Their continued support has enabled Boys Town Texas to make a lasting difference in the lives of thousands of at risk children and hundreds of struggling families that we serve in all of our programs.”
Thanks again to Valero for the continued support!

boys-town-texas-to-serve-150-additional-childrenBoys Town Texas to Serve 150 Additional ChildrenTexas
Monday, Dec 7, 2015

Boys Town Texas recently received federal funding that will allow the organization to serve an additional 100 families/150 children in Bexar County each year for two years. Victims of Crime Act funding is channeled through the Texas Governor’s office to Boys Town Texas through a competitive grant process.

Child Protective Services has agreed to refer cases where children have alleged or confirmed cases of abuse and neglect. The children will not be living in the home with the alleged abuser; many of the children will be living with grandparents or other relatives.

Once a family is referred, the child and their guardian are linked with an In-Home Family Services Family Consultant. The Family Consultant will work with the child and their guardian to ensure safety and a smooth transition and to link the family with needed resources. They will also provide the guardian with essential parenting skills to help with any behavioral issues the child may be demonstrating.

At Boys Town, we recognize that the parent or caregiver is the ultimate treatment agent for children and we hope to strengthen and heal families in our community through our In-Home Family Services program.

Boys Town Texas began offering these services in October 2015.

texas-couple-creates-forever-family-with-love-determinationTexas Couple Creates Forever Family with Love, DeterminationTexas
Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

As Dene watched her stepchildren ​pack their possessions and move out of her home, she grieved. She was losing the family she had loved.

Kyle, Kayla and Alex, the children from her husband Aaron’s previous marriage, were leaving to live with their mom. Dene knew it was important for them to have a relationship with her, and she knew they would be well provided for and safe.

But that didn’t stop Dene’s heart from breaking. Caring for them as a mother was an emotionally rewarding and enriching time, and helped Dene realize how much she wanted a family.

“I knew there were so many kids out there that needed to be loved and wanted to be loved,” Dene said.

After conversations with Aaron, both agreed to “jump in” and open their home to foster children. Dene and Aaron attended a foster/adoption event sponsored by the state of Texas, where they learned about Boys Town Texas Foster Family Services ®. Impressed by the program, the couple signed on to become Boys Town Foster Parents.

For three months, Dene and Aaron spent their Saturdays getting trained in everything from CPR to medications to Boys Town Common Sense Parenting ® techniques. The preparation was thorough and thought-provoking.

“We learned you can’t take a broken child and expect him to act normal,” explained Dene. “That’s just unfair because in his mind, he is acting normal. You have to build him up again, love him and guide him. Boys Town gave us the tools to do that.”

When they completed their training, the couple took in a young boy and girl whom they wanted to adopt. But it wasn’t to be; the children eventually returned to their own family. Dene was left brokenhearted again but not disillusioned.

“You go into foster parenting knowing kids may go back to their family. You always need to have the mindset that it’s okay if they go back. You do what’s best for the child, not for you. You have to have a selfless attitude,” Dene said.

It wasn’t long before the couple opened their home again, this time to an infant boy named Christian. The couple jumped at the opportunity, optimistic they might be able to adopt the baby. And they weren’t done yet. Dene and Aaron wanted a big family, and agreed to take in foster siblings. Two months later, 5-year-old Abigail and her 4-year-old sister Ruthanne entered their lives… like a buzz saw.

The first few days with the pint-sized siblings were nightmarish.

“They had temper tantrums about three times a day for at least two hours at a time. Kicking, screaming, fighting, biting, making holes in the walls, you name it. It was bad,” Dene recalled.

The girls’ wild behaviors were a product of their tumultuous start in life. After their biological parents were stripped of their parental rights, the sisters moved into a motel room with an abusive aunt. Later, they were placed in a foster-to-adopt home with a couple that was so neglectful, their foster care license was revoked. When the girls finally came to Dene and Aaron, they were broken.

The intensity and unpredictability of the sisters’ behaviors left the couple questioning how they could manage.

But by relying on their Boys Town training, the encouragement of their Boys Town Foster Family Consultant, intensive counseling and strong faith, they found a way to connect with the girls.

Abigail and Ruthanne had severe anxiety and few coping skills, so Dene and Aaron spent countless hours soothing and teaching. They prepared the girls for new situations by explaining expectations and setting boundaries so the sisters wouldn’t get overwhelmed and have meltdowns. They also taught coping skills, including self-calming strategies, so the girls could see they had some control over their lives.

All that effort and patience slowly paid off. Now, the hours-long tantrums are a distant memory. Abigail is flourishing in kindergarten, making friends and excelling in math. For Ruthanne, the road was a bit rockier. The preschooler had difficulty adjusting to the classroom, so she’s being temporarily homeschooled. But Ruthanne is learning to read, gaining confidence and asking when she can get back on the school bus.

Both girls bonded with Christian and have become very protective of their little brother. Most importantly, all three don’t have to worry about being uprooted again. They have their forever family now, and Mom credits Boys Town for not letting her or the family give up.

“I carried a heavy anxiety about the possibility of losing my kids,” Dene admitted. “But that moment when I realized no one was ever going to take them away, it was like all the burdens got wiped away. Without Boys Town, we wouldn’t have our family.”


desire-to-give-back-brings-foster-mom-siblings-together-as-forever-familyDesire to Give Back Brings Foster Mom, Siblings Together as Forever Family Texas
Patricia’s decision to become a Boys Town Texas Foster Parent eventually led to a loving, permanent home for Celeste and Vincent
Friday, Jun 19, 2015

Patricia had a yearning for a change in her ​life’s work and purpose. She wanted to give back by becoming a Foster Parent.

A widower and registered nurse, Patricia had no children living at home. Her daughter was an adult who was doing well and living on her own. A second daughter had passed away due to medical problems.

During an informational meeting about foster care at the local Child Protective Service (CPS) offices, Patricia learned about Boys Town Texas, its Foster Family Services program and the need for Foster Parents.

Patricia contacted Boys Town Texas and made the life-altering decision to go through the process of becoming a Foster Parent. She was both anxious and excited about the possibility of welcoming children into her home.

It wasn’t long before she had the unique opportunity to help two siblings.

Celeste, 8, and Vincent, 6, had been removed from their father’s home by CPS following his arrest. The father had no CPS history, but once CPS investigated the home, they discovered he had drug abuse problems. There also had been neglect and physical abuse involving both children.

The kids’ mother had been out of their lives for years and there were no other relatives who could take them in. Through Boys Town’s Foster Family Services® program, they were immediately placed in Patricia’s home.

When the children first arrived, both seemed to adjust well to their new surroundings.

“Celeste and Patricia seemed to get along very well at the start,” said Patricia Potts, a Consultant with Boys Town Foster Family Services. “Celeste was a girlie-girl who enjoyed fashion, pretty things and bedazzled items. This was right up Patricia’s alley. At the beginning, there were hardly any behavioral issues.”

After time went on, however, the “honeymoon” period came to an end and Celeste began acting out with defiant and angry behaviors.

“Celeste had a lot of anger toward her father,” Potts said. “And she would take it out on Patricia.”

Patricia remained patient and depended on Potts and Boys Town for support and guidance. Potts was a good sounding board and gave Patricia helpful strategies for dealing with and changing Celeste’s negative behaviors.

“Patricia was very eager to work the Boys Town Model ®,” Potts said. “Once she started seeing it work with Celeste, Patricia became more consistent and confident with teaching skills and using the teaching process.”

Celeste also was prescribed medication for mental health concerns and she responded well.

It took time, patience and hard work from Patricia but Celeste finally began to settle in.

Vincent’s adjustment period mirrored that of his sister. He bonded well with Patricia at first, but still had severe behavior problems.

“Vincent was very destructive, defiant and had explosive behavior,” Potts said. “After working with a psychiatrist, he was also placed on medication. It really helped him to keep his stress level down both at home and in school and he was able to communicate better.”

When Patricia took Vincent to the doctor, a health exam revealed he had vision problems along with hearing loss.

“These health issues had a negative effect on his behaviors at home and in school.” Potts said. “Once they were addressed, he began responding better.”

Over the next year, both children grew happier and healthier as they thrived in their new home.

“There was still some underlying anxiety and anger issues with their father, but ongoing therapy has helped them to deal with those issues in healthier ways,” Potts said.

A year and a half after Celeste and Vincent began living with Patricia, their mother relinquished her parental rights and their father’s parental rights were terminated.

Patricia knew she was ready to ensure that Celeste and Vincent had the stable, loving and permanent home they needed and wanted. She adopted both children and they officially became part of their forever family.

“Patricia is a very special person,” Potts said. “She’s a giving, loving person who truly cares for others. She demonstrated that in her previous profession of nursing and it has carried over into her love of children in foster care. She didn’t hesitate to open her home and heart to Celeste and Vincent, who were in dire need of a home. Now they have a real chance to grow and thrive.”

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