My name is Nancy Willis, and I am a retired foster and adoptive parent.

As a young child, my mother and I would read the newspaper, and we’d always see the same ad for foster parent recruitment: “This child is waiting for you.” I would tell my parents, “We need to go get this child.”

And that’s what I’ve done. For 19 years, I have fostered 33 children, most of whom were infants under three years old when they came to my home. I’m an adoptive mother to four of them.

Foster children come into the world with so many challenges; drugs in their little systems, abandoned, scared. Sometimes their families have been struggling for a long time and they’re often wounded children themselves. They need our help.

One little girl, Zias, was just three years old. We were together for three years and became very attached to each other. She potty trained with me, and started kindergarten, walking to school every day with my daughter.

At age six she started the reunification process with her biological mother. The night before she was set to leave, her mother called me and said “I can’t do this. I can’t take her.”

I knew the heartbreak Zias would feel. I told her mother, “Yes, you can. You can do this. She’s counting on you. You will pick her up tomorrow. Better yet, I’ll bring her to you.” The whole drive there Zias cried, “I’m going to miss you.”

The Children’s Center has always been there for all our needs. The counselors and psychiatrists are great with my kids. All the different programs they have for children–birthday parties, homework help, the boutique–have been great for my family.

The Children’s Center is a beacon of hope in the community. It’s bright. It’s cheery. Lives are changed there. Better days begin at The Children’s Center.

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