Alyza Gordon-Gonzalez did not know if she had what it took to be a foster parent. Now, she knows she has what she always wanted.
“I was a nervous wreck and I thought I would fail at this,” Alyza said. “But it’s completely changed my life and I am so grateful and blessed. I’m so happy to give these boys a home and give them something to call their own. A mother to call their own who loves them. They made me a better person and showed me things I didn’t know I had inside me.”
Alyza’s time as a Little City foster parent has been an immense success. She has adopted three boys during her roughly five years as a foster parent and all three — Jayshawn, Joseph and Isaiah — have graduated high school, started online college courses and are making plans for their futures.
But fostering has become a passion for Alyza and as her three boys become more independent and take their next steps toward adulthood, she has brought in two more boys, Jeremiah, 12, and Ian, 16. She said having Jayshawn, Joseph and Isaiah around helps the younger boys see what is possible and that a family is possible.
“One thing we don’t do in this house is use that foster word. We’re a family and this is our family, no matter how long you stay with me” Alyza said. “One of my boys had never been introduced to someone as other than ‘my foster child,’ so when I said he was my child to someone, it meant a lot to him. And it’s true, we are a family.”
While the prospect of fostering can be overwhelming to first-time families, Alyza said she learned taking it a day at a time and having patience is the key. She said she always asks what they expect from her and she makes clear what she expects of them. When they see each other working to meet those expectations and keep their promises to each other, the bond to each other and love for one another comes naturally.
“When I first started, I didn’t know what to do, I just knew I had to feed them and that’s where I started,” Alyza said. “But you take it a day at a time and you get to know what they like, what they struggle with and it becomes natural. People ask me ‘why take in all these kids, it’s too many problems,’ and those people just don’t know. I am so proud of these boys and what they’ve done. They all have trauma, not every day is peachy, but they’re brothers and we’re a family and they just make me so proud.”
There are thousands of children waiting for a family of their own, and there are people out there like Alyza who have the ability to make a life-changing difference even if they do not know it yet. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the Little City Foster Care & Adoption program, visit www.littlecity.org/fostercare
It only takes one to change the life of a child in foster care.
There are over 21,000 children in foster care in the Illinois and every one of them needs and deserves a safe, stable, and nurturing family. But we are facing a real crisis.
Since the pandemic began, the number of children in foster care has continued to increase and the number of potential foster care parents and families has declined.
All it takes is one to change the life of a child in foster care.