Baby Cal became the next innocent child of the opioid epidemic to enter the foster care system when his 16-year-old sister called DFCS to report her father’s drug addiction.
His father, Tom, had been abusing drugs since he was 10 years old. “I didn’t know how to live a sober life and didn’t think that I could. I thought I would always have to self-medicate.” He struggled to be the provider and protector that he wanted to be for his family. His wife, Beth, also struggled with a drug addiction, so much so that she lost the parental rights of, and all contact with, her four children from a previous marriage.
“March 15, 2018,” Tom explains “was the day that DFCS came and took our son. This was also the day that I stopped doing drugs.”
This wake-up call sparked a sudden turn in the lives of Tom and Beth. Like many birth families, they did not have a strong support system and their families lived out of the state.
Cal was placed in the home of FaithBridge foster parents Tony and Jill DiCara. “In the beginning, it felt heartbreaking when they came and took him.” Tom explained. But he says when he met the DiCaras, he felt that they were really good people. They invited Tom and Beth to Four Points Church, and they immediately started to attend.
The Four Points Church Community of Care®sprang into action
and surrounded Tony and Jill to support their fostering of Cal. That made all the difference, allowing them the capacity to minister to Tom and Beth.
“Our mission is to care for the foster children and the biological parents when it is possible. We knew it would be a great way to support them if we surrounded them with a loving and accepting community of believers.” explained Jill.
Six months after Cal was removed from their home, Tom and Beth were returned full custody of their son. They are determined to keep the connections made with his foster family. “The DiCaras have been so nice to us and really cared for our baby and loved him.Even after we got full custody back, we didn’t want to just snatch him away from them, so going to the church helps us to bridge that relationship,” Tom shared, “I feel really grateful for the DiCaras. We hope that baby Cal can continue to grow close to Uncle Tony and Aunt Jill.”
Tom and Beth are starting a new chapter of their lives. They are moving forward with a stronger support system through their connections with the DiCaras and others at Four Points Church and healthier habits that will help them be the best parents for Cal.
When asked what advice he would give the foster parents caring for children Tom emphasized that foster parents and churches need to know that it is ok to love the children and treat them like your own but be open to birth families and what they are going through.
“Be kind and treat them like anybody else. We could all find ourselves in a tough situation. It never felt like they were trying to keep baby Cal from us and this gave us the courage to get better.”
There are so many families like Beth and Tom who have to walk through tough times. And there are many families like Jill and Tony who genuinely care about supporting family restoration. There are also many churches like Four Points who are welcoming and want to foster relationships with people.
Foster care is about intersecting into the storyline of families in need so that every child can have a “happily ever after.” It is about respecting the integrity of each individual story. It is about connecting people to the hope, healing, and unconditional love that only Jesus can provide. Help us make a difference in the lives of Georgia’s vulnerable children and families by sharing this love.
Names changed for privacy