Each year, The New York Foundling touches the lives of more than 13,000 people. Here are just a few stories of how The Foundling has made a difference in the lives of these men, women and children.
Pathway Center for Chemical Dependency
Francis is a 42-year-old recovering cocaine addict with five children. She credits the Pathway Center for Chemical Dependency with restoring her self-esteem and teaching her to be a responsible, functioning parent. After numerous failed attempts at rehab and unsuccessful court battles to get her children back from foster care, Francis all but gave up in her battle with drug abuse. The drug toxic birth of her youngest son, who was immediately taken from her custody, finally brought her to the Pathway Center. She was placed in parenting and spirituality classes in addition to her drug treatment program. Because her addiction problem was treated in connection with her low self-esteem, Francis finally gained the tools to overcome her drug use issues. She slowly integrated back into the lives of her children and recently had her three youngest, ages 1, 3 and 5, returned to her care. Francis has also re-established relationships with her older children: a 24-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son who live together in the Bronx. She is working to become a substance abuse counselor, and has been drug-free for nearly two years. Because The New York Foundling helped Francis confront all of her problems, she finally learned to control her addiction problems and find alternative ways to deal with the stresses of raising a family.
Mother Child Program
Carrie came to The Foundling’s Mother Child Program because she wanted to. When she realized she was pregnant at age 17 and decided to keep the baby, she knew she would need a network of support to help her face the challenges of parenting a child alone. Because she was raised in the foster care system, Carrie was determined to provide her baby with the nourishment, support and stability that were denied to her. She arrived at the DeSales home full of expectations and goals and immediately went about setting herself on a path to success. She maintained high grades in school while working a job, lived as independently as possible, took numerous parenting classes, and set a respectful, dedicated example to the other girls in the program. At age 18 she was able to move into her own federally subsidized apartment, which she furnished with $5,000 she managed to save during her time in the Mother Child home. She is now enrolled in University classes in North Carolina where she lives with her healthy baby boy, but she visits often and still serves as a peer mentor, showing other girls in the program what can be achieved with a little perseverance and hard work.
Mental Health Services
David was a defenseless four-year-old when he started sexual abuse therapy, and had already demonstrated many dysfunctional behaviors. His parents were caught in a cycle of abuse that left David a victim of generational sexual trauma. His behavior reflected a need to be in control at all times and to take on adult and parenting rolls. He was extremely protective of his younger sister and other small children and he refrained from reaching out to develop trusting relationships with adults. He was angry and violent because he had no other way to express his sense of injustice. With the support of The Foundling’s Mental Health Services, after six months of therapy, five-year-old David is learning to trust and bond with adults. He asks for help, identifies his emotions, and articulates frustrations and anger in a positive, therapeutic manner. The road to healing from sexual abuse is a long and difficult one, but little David is already learning how to cope with the challenges in his life.
Mott Haven Leadership Program
Mark's life was headed nowhere. He grew up in foster care, hardly knowing his birth parents. Angry and abandoned by the world, Mark instigated physical confrontations with classmates and authority figures. He was always in trouble at school and failed out of most of his classes. In the seventh grade, he was introduced to leaders from the Mott Haven Leadership Program but he saw the program as a waste of time. Fearing that he was headed for a life of gangs, drugs and crime, a school counselor challenged Mark to try the program, and he signed up. Three years later, Mark is a different kid. He made a choice to better himself and prove that he could accomplish the challenges of the program. His grades improved and in his junior year of high school, he earns honors in many of his classes. Mark has also learned to channel his anger and frustrations, using them to drive him on to success rather than destruction. He controls his impulses to lash out and says his newfound self-control is a testament to the influence of the Leadership Program.
Sherie and Mannix
Bronx Teen Parenting
Sherie and Mannix have been involved with the Bronx Teen Parenting Program for the past two years. The couple credits the program with teaching them parenting skills that have enabled their two children to grow and develop in a healthy family context. Sherie and Mannix appreciate the support group and involvement with other young parents that allows them to interact with people who empathize with their situation. The encouragement has been invaluable in supporting their efforts to graduate from college and provide for their family. Already they have completed high school. Sheri is entering a paralegal training program and Mannix will be attending college shortly. They are moving out of a family shelter in the South Bronx and into their own apartment. They plan to raise their children in Philadelphia where they will be surrounded by the support of extended family members.
Preserving Families. It’s part of The New York Foundling’s mission and we are grateful to help young families like Sherie and Mannix and their children to reach their goals.
Maria Lucadamo Crisis Nursery
Andria’s life had become unmanageable. The single mother of four children, all under 10 years old, was also caring for her frail father, who shared their crowded home. She was depressed and worried she soon wouldn’t have the strength to take care of her children. Andria called The Foundling’s Parent Helpline and asked for the help she desperately needed. We made special arrangements at our Maria Lucadamo Crisis Nursery so that all four of her children could stay together, while Andria was admitted to the hospital for evaluation and care. After two weeks, Andria felt strong enough to bring her children home, and resume her exhausting but fulfilling life as a mother and caregiver. She knows The Foundling is only a phone call away if things begin to spiral out of control.
Andria encourages other moms who may be heading for a crisis to call The Foundling’s Parent Helpline and ask for the support they need. “It’s a wonderful resource. Use it. You don’t have to be afraid.”
Preserving Families. It’s part of The New York Foundling’s mission and we are grateful we helped Andria keep hers together.
Volunteer at Pathway Center
It was nearly 40 years ago when Wendy and her husband opened their hearts and home and adopted their son, Bobby, from The Foundling. And though The Foundling often was in Wendy’s thoughts through the years, it wasn’t until recently that Wendy decided it was time to reconnect. After nearly three years of retirement following a 37-year career in teaching, Wendy wanted to become a volunteer and The Foundling was the only organization that came to my mind.
With Wendy’s background as a school teacher, it was clear she was a perfect match for The Foundling’s Pathway Program for women overcoming substance abuse. Many of the young women in the program never finished school—a result of their substance abuse problems. Others simply stopped going to school so they could take care of their own young children. Wendy’s task is to get the women back on an educational track. She helps the women feel more confident in their literacy abilities so they can find the inner strength to take a GED course and eventually receive their high school diploma.
“I want very much to help these women further their education and be more aware of the importance of education,” said Wendy. “And I want to make them realize they have to be an active part in their children’s education so that we can break this cycle of illiteracy.”
Merli Derosier and her sister, Marie Estimé
A sibling adoption is quite rare and a testament to the enduring bonds of family. Merli Derosier and her sister, Marie, lost their mother days after she gave birth to Marie. Though they spent several years with their father, he was unable to care for them and the sisters entered foster care.
Each year, around the Christmas holiday, Marie would ask if she could live with her big sister, who had taken on the role of protector and caretaker. “Next Christmas,” Merli would promise each year, knowing full well that as a teenager in foster care herself, she wouldn’t be able to care for her sister.
But, Merli made good on her promise. After graduating college and starting out in the working world, Merli officially became Marie’s foster parent and set the wheels in motion to adopt her baby sister, thereby keeping her promise to her now high-school-age sibling.
This Christmas was an especially happy one for Merli and Marie. The best presents weren’t under the tree this year but are soon to arrive – their new apartment to share and news that Marie’s adoption will be made official will be two presents worth waiting for.
Each year, more than 120 of The Foundling’s foster parents make their bonds with their foster children permanent through adoption. If you are interested in giving a warm home and a bright, stable future to a child or teenager who needs one, consider becoming a foster parent, with the goal of adoption.
To protect the confidentiality of those we serve, we have changed the names and slightly modified identifiable information.