Foster Mom Opens Door To D.c.'s Youth (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Foster Mom Opens Doors To D.C.'s Youth

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
Speaking of goddess-like patience, this next woman we'll meet has it in spades. Lita Trejo is a foster mom in the District. She works with the Latin-American Youth Center, which places kids with temporary families until a social worker can help reunite them with their own parents. She's taken in kids, mostly teenagers, for the past 16 years. Emily Friedman spoke with Trejo about what it's like to open your home to kids who are, as she puts it, hungry for love.

MS. LITA TREJO

00:00:31
My name is Lita Trejo and I live in Washington D.C. I was working at Mary Center, a community clinic and some people came from the Latin-American Youth Center to talk about the foster care program. They said that there was so many kids in need and that made me interested in helping, you know. And I knew I had a space in my house and I thought it was a good opportunity to do something for the society.

MS. LITA TREJO

00:00:58
That's when I came home and I told my husband, you know, there's a chance to become foster parents and I started to tell him all about it. He said, that sounds interesting. But he didn't know if he was sure he wanted to start all over with children. And I was just telling him we're going to do it, you know, it wasn't like an option for him.

MS. LITA TREJO

00:01:19
When the first foster kid came, it wasn't what I thought was going to happen. It was a girl. She was 18 years old. She came to my house with a lot of problems. You know, when a kid comes, I know that I have to be able to make them feel comfortable, be able to make them feel that they know me, even though they don't know me.

MS. LITA TREJO

00:01:39
You know, like, hi, how are you doing? Come in. You know, this is going to be your room. This is the shower. This is the kitchen. There's the refrigerator, feel free to open it. From now on, you're part of my family. And then they start talking. This is interesting how they start talking. They're hungry for that love.

MS. LITA TREJO

00:01:57
You know, the second child that came to my house, he was in seventh grade and he didn't know how to read. So we sat every evening to read for 20 minutes, Monday through Friday. Then he started to feel that, you know, you're not my mother, you're not going to force me to read.

MS. LITA TREJO

00:02:14
But I always tell him, you know, you're going to learn how to read no matter what. And whenever you're ready come to my room, knock on my door and we'll read the 20 minutes. We don't have to read right now. And he always came to my room, always, said, okay, Lita, I'm ready to read. And we read.

MS. LITA TREJO

00:02:32
We had the little kids that came to our house, the only two kids that came to our house. The first day they came, the boy who was nine years old, asked me -- I was going upstairs with his bag of clothes, which is so sad when they come. Honestly it's sad when they come because they don't have suitcase. They're not coming for vacation. They're coming to live here and they bring their stuff in black bags, like trash bags.

MS. LITA TREJO

00:03:01
So I was carrying this bag upstairs to his room and showing him his room and in the middle of the stairway he said, can I call you Mommy? And that broke my heart, broke my heart, and I said, of course you can me Mommy. It was so sad. I cried. I turned around and I went to the social worker and she said, are you okay? I said, I'm okay. It was just sad.

MS. LITA TREJO

00:03:31
Raising a child is like social obligation that I have to provide some support to these kids that have no other chance. You don't have to have a house. You don't have to be rich. All you need is to have love for kids and a room.

SHEIR

00:03:51
That was foster mom Lita Trejo talking with "Metro Connection's" Emily Friedman. You can find more information about foster parenting on our website, metroconnection.org. And with Mother's Day coming up, we'd love to hear your stories about the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach us at metro@wamu.org.
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