Children deserve to be safe and loved

Julie Filby

Michelle Schuldt, and her husband Matt, have been foster parents with Catholic Charities since 2012. They are parishioners at St. Pius X in Aurora.

Right before Christmas 2013 we got a call for a little girl who needed a foster home. That day I picked up this scared little girl. She was terrified. The first night I held her in my arms so she could sleep. Every time I moved a muscle she would wake up crying and needed reassurance to be able to fall back to sleep.

Over the next few days we realized she didn’t even know her own name though she was 19 months old. She absolutely would not fall asleep unless I was in the room with her. Bathing was such a foreign event that we had to slowly introduce her to bathing over the course of a week.

We’ve come a long way since then.

A couple of weeks ago I supervised a “good-bye” visit between her and her biological mother. Days prior to this visit, her mother relinquished her parental rights. For my husband and I, this was a joyous time, as we will now be able to adopt Kiki, this little girl that we have grown to love. But part of me is so very sad for her biological mother. Therein lies the paradoxical nature of foster care.

Looking back over the time we have been involved in bringing other people’s children into our home, there have been unbelievable highs and devastating lows. But, we would do it all over again!

For many years, my husband and I tried to conceive a child but were unable to become pregnant. When it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to have a baby, we talked about foster care and adopting from foster care. I really felt I was being called by God to foster care.

So, we took a step forward and waited. I was afraid of my heart being broken again. It took a few years for us to become certified because of my fears and uncertainty so we took the process slowly. My husband was there at every turn telling me to just pray about it. I would pray, take another step, then wait.

Since becoming foster parents, we have experienced the struggles that come with caring for a foster child. We have cared for premature and drug-exposed babies who cried non-stop, children who come from homes where they were neglected, and where biological parents have substance abuse issues. We have taken in children with a high level of need due to significant trauma they suffered in their life, and those who have been moved several times. Many of these children have behavioral issues and will most likely require therapy and support for years to come.

As I look back on all these children that have come into my heart, I can see the hand of God working in each case. I want everyone to know—there are children out there who need your help. Will you answer the call? We did and we have cared for a total of nine children. We have said good-bye to five of them and even though that was so hard, I wouldn’t trade any of it, not even the heartbreak and tears. Our lives and theirs have gone exactly as they were supposed to, exactly as God planned it.

Four of the children now share our home, and our last name, forever. We couldn’t be happier. While the “system” might be broken, that doesn’t change the fact that there are thousands of children in need of a good, safe, stable, loving home. So regardless how broken the system is, it’s worth it because these children did not ask to be mistreated. They deserve to be safe and loved. They are “the least of these.” It’s been our experience that they give back joy and love 100-fold. We are abundantly blessed!

Informational meeting

Become a foster family with Catholic Charities

7 p.m. May 20 at the St. John Paul II Center, 1300 S Steele St, Denver, Room 111

303-742-0823, Ext. 2051 or CGarcia@ccdenver.org

COMING UP: Colorado Catholic bishops remember Columbine on 20th anniversary

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Colorado’s bishops have issued a joint statement recognizing the 20th anniversary of the April 20, 1999 shooting at Columbine High School that claimed the lives of 12 students and one teacher. The full statement can be read below.

This week we remember the horrific tragedy that occurred at Columbine High School 20 years ago. In life there are days that will never be forgotten; seared in our minds and
on our hearts forever – for many of us in Colorado that day was April 20, 1999.

As we mark this solemn anniversary with prayer, remembrance and service let us not forget that there is still much work to be done. Violence in our homes, schools and cities is destroying the lives, dignity and hope of our brothers and sisters every day. Together, as people of good
will, we must confront this culture of violence with love, working to rebuild and support family life. We must commit ourselves to working together to encourage a culture of life and peace.

Nothing we do or say will bring back the lives and innocence that were lost 20 years ago. Let us take this moment to remember the gift of the lives of those we lost, and let us, as men and women of faith, take back our communities from the fear and evil that come from violence like we witnessed at Columbine. Our faith in Jesus Christ provides us with the hope and values that
can bring peace, respect and dignity to our homes, hearts and communities.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Columbine community and all those affected by violence
in our communities.