“Mom, I know those people!” Monica exclaimed, as she gazed out of the car window as we waited at a red light. “What are they holding? What does that say?” 

“They are asking people for money for food.” 

Immediately she responded, “Can we help them?"

I couldn’t lie to my daughter. Although 7-year-old Monica knows that she is adopted, there is a lot that she doesn’t remember about her early childhood. The days that stretched into weeks without electricity. The itchy skin from neglected bathing. The night that CPS took her away. 

So I told Monica the truth. 

"Yes baby, you do know them. They are your parents. And yes, we can try and help them."

As we approached with bags full of groceries, they failed to recognize their own daughter. They thanked us warmly, and walked away.

Monica just stood there with a blank expression on her face, then we went back to the car. I knew that she was hurt. 

But she also knows that I love her, and that I'm her mom. 

Because of you, children like Monica have safe and loving families. Monica has a very bright future. She loves to sing and dance, has many friends at school, and faces the realities of this world with strength and grace that I admire.

People tell me that Monica is lucky to have been adopted into our family – but the truth is, I am so lucky to have her.

Your gift on April 4, Arizona Gives Day, gives children like Monica their forever families. Thank you. 

Caren Barrientos is LSS-SW Regional Director of Family HOMES foster care. She continues to foster children and individuals with disabilities, in addition to Monica and her 5 siblings. If you're interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent, contact Caren.