Foster Parents Mercede and Alex
2022 will mark 10 years in foster care for twin sisters Hannah and Heather and their twelve-year-old sister Summer who has Cerebral Palsy. It also marks a year where all three sisters become teenagers. Yet, being a teenager in the foster care system and a sibling group, significantly decreases the likelihood of being cared for together and finding a forever home.
In April 2020, everything changed when the sisters met foster parents Mercede and Alex. New to The Villages’ family of foster parents, and new to the role of parent, Mercede and Alex got right to work. After meeting the sisters for the first time, they bought a wheelchair ramp to attach to their home so they could provide respite care and nurture the relationship. This happened before Mercede and Alex even took on the role of being their full-time foster parents. But it was clear to Mercede and Alex after their first meeting they wanted to adopt.
“Mercede and Alex support and advocate for these three siblings, even in times of teenage attitudes and behaviors. They have never once doubted that these were their girls, that they loved, and were a part of their family,” shares Jessica Brown, Foster Care Case Manager.
Twelve-year-old Summer needs additional support because of Cerebral Palsy, a lifelong disorder that affects the body’s movement, muscle tone, balance, and posture. When Summer came into care, she was wheelchair bound, unable to walk. Together, because of The Villages’ generous community of donors, The Villages’ purchased an adaptive, pink (at Summer’s request), bicycle for Summer to build her strength and physical condition, and also help provide a normalizing childhood experience.
“Summer’s physical condition has improved leaps and bounds. Now through perseverance and hard work she can walk. Her doctors have all been shocked by how much she has improved”, says Brown.
Foster parents are angels among us and The Villages knows that having a community to provide critical supports to the children in their care, is vital to healing and brighter futures. “Mercede and Alex are compassionate and fierce. They are patient and kind. They want to continue to Foster, even after the girls adoption is finalized,” Brown shares, which should be finalized sometime next year.
Foster parenting may not be right for everyone, but everyone can do something. Together we can make a greater impact in the lives of deserving children like Summer, Hannah, and Heather. Make an end of year gift today and join together with other community members to make a difference in the lives of foster children, statewide.