A particularly gripping Sunday sermon in 2005 initiated a forever transformation in one north Fort Collins family.
Matthew and Charla Lacy were a just-turned-30 couple raising the American-typical two-child family until that Wellington Community Church service speaker eight years ago urged listeners to take a genuine interest in the needs of others. Plus, the fellowship’s bulletin included a note about a need for foster parents. Charla had always thought she’d like to adopt (through fostering). Motivated by that contemplative Sunday, she and Matt agreed on that selfless course of action.
They soon became foster parents to a 1-month-old boy abandoned at the hospital by his mother, who was unable to care for her critically ill baby. The infant had been born with the same severe heart condition as had the Lacys’ own biological daughter. Sadly, the little boy died following a heart transplant in December 2005.
Despite that initial poignant experience, the Lacys remained undeterred. They again fostered, including providing respite care for children and teenagers nights, weekends or longer for other foster parents.
The Lacys had transferred to Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains from Wing Shadow, which had closed its doors. In May 2006, the couple fostered 4-year-old Sarah, whose parental rights had been terminated. Fulfilling their adoption dream, they adopted her in 2007. But life’s circumstances have a way of ignoring people’s best-laid plans.
In April 2007, the Lacys learned that Sarah’s biological sister Lily was available. How could they refuse? Well, for one thing, Charla was then seven months pregnant. She wondered if she could adequately care for a new baby, her biological children and adopted daughter, as well as an incoming child from a dysfunctional background. Plus, Sarah and Lily had been placed separately in foster care because of intense sibling antagonism. Matt was less hesitant to add one more to the family.
After some discussion, hearts overcame doubts. They fostered Lily and adopted her in 2008. Surprisingly, the once-adversarial sisters immediately bonded, so much so that if Lily so much as bumped a knee, Sarah over-reacted like a brooding mother hen.
Charla Lacy, a strong proponent of foster care/adoption, doesn’t dismiss the pros as sappy sentiment or sugar-coat the cons. She candidly recalled some of each.
Ten-year-old biological daughter Hannah, she said, really likes having two sisters because her bios are all brothers. In fact, for three months each year, the girls are all the same age because born-a-premie Lily and 10-year-old sister Sarah are just nine months apart.
Charla has watched her children learn true compassion. “I think one of the greatest pros about foster care is helping kids that really need help secure a more stable life. Any security they receive is beneficial because they’ll know that someone loves them, someone is there to care for them.”
Foster children can come with emotional and/or physical “baggage.” Most foster parents aren’t wealthy enough to absorb an added financial burden not covered by their insurance. Thankfully, said Charla, Medicaid pays healthcare costs and the state provides reimbursement for other expenses. Adoption fees are covered, versus out-of-pocket $20,000 for U.S. adoptions, and upwards of $60,000 for foreign.
Charla admits challenges. There are many rules to follow, home life can be more stressful if parental visits occur and, worst of all, huge volumes of paperwork are required.
However, she lauds Lutheran Family Services for previous great support and for remaining a go-to information resource. In 2012, Charla was a speaker at a Lutheran Family Servicesbenefit breakfast and the Lacys continue to mentor other families considering the fostering/adoption experience.
Charla declared, “It can be hard, but it’s very rewarding. It’s our life and will always be part of our family.”
A Few Facts About Foster Care Through Lutheran Family Services
Carrie Landers, MSW, is a Resource Specialist at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Fort Collins. She stated that LFS works with several Colorado counties for possible foster family assignments for children. When and if possible, siblings are placed together.
Each child has a county caseworker who reports to the court, including on parental rights issues. LFS Clinicians are case managers/therapists with Masters Degrees in Social Work, Counseling or Marriage and Family Therapy. Clinicians visit each foster home once every week to provide therapy and case management for each child. Plus, these professionals and supervisors are always available on an on-call basis.