By Carley Dangona
WESTFIELD – The future of a child in foster care can be permanently altered in a positive fashion when adoptive parents provide a safe, loving home.
Westfield Evangelical Free Church, 568 Southwick Road, will host an Adoption & Foster Care Conference on March 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for current and future foster parents.
Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. for registration. Admission costs $10 per individual and $15 per couple. To register in advance, visit http://blog.westfieldefc.com
. Sue Badeau, mom and author of “Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids,” is the featured guest speaker.
Badeau and her husband Hector are parents to two biological children and 20 adopted children, who currently range in age from 23 to 44. Three of them had terminal illnesses. They have 35 grandchildren. The couple has fostered 50 children temporarily and opens their home to displaced refugees. The couple has lived in Philadelphia, Pa. for the past 20 years but once resided in Western Massachusetts and Vermont.
“Trauma can have real impact, but children can heal,” Badeau said. There’s no child that’s too damaged. It will be hard, but it will be worth it.”
Badeau and her husband wanted to write the book to “fill in a gap” and to “memorialize” the lives of the children they lost. She commented, “You get either the horror stories or the fluffy, you’re a hero angel stories.” The goal of the book is to accurately and honestly portray the benefits and struggles adoptive parents face.
She said that the book is a learning tool for those considering adoption, those who have adopted and those that serve as part of the service solution for agencies that place and support foster children.
“Mostly there’s a strong sense of joy in the small things and the big things,” Badeau stated. She said that there was a time when her family was told one of the children would never walk and another would never graduate high school, but both went on to meet and surpass these goals. “We see the incredible hurdles and barriers they’ve overcome,” she said.
Badeau added that being a foster parent is just as rewarding as parents who have their children from infancy. “You get to watch ever day a child grows. You watch them blossom into the person that they become. You get the same sense of satisfaction and excitement [as being a biological parent],” she said.
The Badeau family became interested in adoption after supporting some homeless men while they were running the Logos Bookstore in Northampton. They opened a room for those in need to rest in and have shelter in the back of the store.
“We learned that these men were facing the issue [of homelessness] in their 50s, 60s and 70s because they hadn’t ever really had a stable family life when they were children or teenagers,” Badeau said.
She said that there is no “empty nest” now that the children are older. Some of them have special needs, which require more support so Badeau and her husband are still actively parenting.
“It’s a different dynamic. It’s quieter. Sometimes, it is just the two of us,” she said.
The next step for the family is to decide what to do with the house that is now too large to suite the family. The couple is currently researching the options of turning the home into a respite care facility or selling the home and creating a respite care facility at a separate location.
To learn more about Badeau and her family, go to http://suebadeau.webs.com
. For more information about Healing Homes, visit www.facebook.com/HealingHomesPioneerValley