National Adoption Month: Devereux N.J. parent shares foster care/adoption journey
“The rewards of being a foster and adoptive parent are great – the children teach us, as much as we teach them.”
Katrina and her husband, Melvin, became therapeutic foster parents with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health New Jersey in 2008. Since that time, they have fostered 25 children, including three currently. In 2012, they adopted their first foster child, Dennis, and then, in 2019, they adopted three other children, all brothers, Lavion, Demetrius and Dayshawn.
“The decision to foster, and then, adopt, was easy,” Katrina said. “My husband had always worked with children, and I was raised in a large family. My mother took care of my cousins, and my grandmother was the ‘grandmother’ of the neighborhood. We opened our hearts and home to children in the community.”
Celebrating life’s milestones
Katrina says being a foster and adoptive parent has taught her patience and resilience, and has filled her with pride.
“Watching my adoptive children achieve milestones and exceed their various prognoses is rewarding,” Katrina shared. “When Dennis, who has special needs, was younger, he was told he would never be able to do certain things, such as tie his shoes. Today, he holds a full-time job, working as a custodian at the high school where he graduated. Our other three adoptive children suffered significant trauma when they were younger. In our care, Lavion graduated from high school and went to a post-secondary prep academy for football, Demetrius graduated and gained full-time employment, and Dayshawn, who is still in school, is maintaining a solid GPA.”
While the couple, who also have two biological children, have experienced some challenges along the way, Katrina says she and her husband make a great team, noting, “We balance each other out. Melvin’s foundation of love and discipline anchors our family.”
Advice for foster parents
Katrina says being a foster and adoptive parent is not about “perfecting life,” but rather, it is about “being there for all of the ups and downs.”
She offers this advice for other foster parents, and for those who are considering fostering.
“The assignment is to love the children, and make sure they grow up knowing they were loved by someone,” Katrina said. “There are children we fostered 15 years ago who still call us today. They say, ‘I couldn’t thank you then, but I want to thank you now.’ Or, ‘Out of everywhere I’ve been, I felt the most at home with you.’ They share their families and current life situations with us. I would tell other foster parents to hang in there, even when there are challenges, because it’s worth it.”
Devereux New Jersey Executive Director Eric Eberman, M.S.Ed., added, “Katrina and Melvin provide a safe, supportive and loving home for so many children in need, and we are grateful for their unwavering compassion and commitment. Every child deserves a chance to build a better tomorrow, and the Joneses, like all our foster parents, are making a positive impact, creating lifelong connections and helping those in their care realize their full potential and thrive.”
The journey of a lifetime
If you are interested in embarking on the journey of a lifetime, and providing a stable and caring home for children, adolescents and adults with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences, Devereux seeks a diverse pool of foster parents/providers who reflect our diverse clientele. We welcome single, married, partnered or cohabitating individuals to become foster parents/providers.
Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s foster care services, and how to become a foster parent/provider.
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