Building bonds through the foster system

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 10:09 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - To the average onlooker, Christina, Sean, and Jen appear to be a normal group of friends. But in reality, they never would have met if it weren’t for a low point in Christina’s life.

“I swore up and down that I was not going to lose my kid,” Christina said.

But in fact, that’s exactly what happened. She came to Reno, and faced addiction and homelessness. In the process she became pregnant.

“At first I thought I could fool the system,” she said. “That I could fake tests and do it that way and still keep my kids. I very quickly learned that I had to fix myself and be a healthy mom.”

Part of that fix came in the form of Sean and Jen Heeran. The two became temporary foster parents to Christina’s oldest son. But what was initially supposed to be a two-week arrangement has turned into a support system that has helped change Christina’s life.

“We built a friendship, and that will last, I have a feeling through all, many years,” she said.

It’s couples like Jen and Sean who fill a critical need in the foster system. They offer a safe, but temporary home while a child’s parent rebuilds their life.

“If Christina is able to be successful and provide a good home for her boys again and really thrive that way, that’s really what it’s about,” Jen said.

Part of what makes this relationship work is the fact that Jen and Sean have no intention of becoming permanent parents. They enjoy giving back and being around kids, but they ultimately want to make sure the children go back to their rightful families. The bond between the Heeran’s and Christina is helping break the stigma of Child Protective Services.

“They think of CPS, as you know, tearing families apart,” Sean said. “But really the goal is to give the parents, whatever services or help they need, and then get the children back.”

Once Christina accepted that fact and she was open to help, things changed for the better.

“It wasn’t the fact that I was a bad mom,” she said. “It was the fact that I couldn’t get clean by myself. They were there to support me and getting him back.”

Now Christina is the mother of two boys and she is living a sober life. Part of her message to others is to get help, even if you think you have everything under control.

“Feel free to reach out, even if you don’t have a CPS case, and you’re struggling. There’s many programs to get help, so that you don’t lose your kids, and that you can be a healthy parent.”

For Sean and Jen, they hope their story inspires others to consider opening their hearts and home.

“I think if you don’t try, you’ll never know,” Jen said.

Sean agreed.

“If you feel like you want to just take a risk and open your heart up a little bit and get out there, if you have something to give back, try it out.”

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you can learn more at a Q&A session

What: Q & A event for anyone considering fostering, adopting or mentoring

When: Thursday, May 13th at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Zoom - Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 824 1330 1182

Passcode: 109012

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