Some details and names of children have been changed to protect their identities.
Alex and Carlos Torres have received no less than four life-changing phone calls since they married in 2015. Each call resulted in a new child being added to their fast-growing family.
The Torres’ Make a Decision
They met on a blind date in 2011. Alex was working at DFPS and Carlos worked in finance. They knew they wanted children even at the beginning of the relationship. Family was central to them.
After marrying in 2015, they tried for a biological child.
“It just wasn’t working out. There was nothing definitive… it just didn’t work,” Alex explained.
With Alex working in the child welfare world, she knew the details of what it meant to take on foster children. Carlos wasn’t so sure.
He’d say, “’What if the child has to go back? I can’t do that!’”
He had grave concerns about loving a foster child and then having to let them go. For the moment, fostering was out of the picture.
The Torres’ Get Ready to Foster
Two years later, the couple knew they needed to address growing their family again. They decided that it was time to consider the alternatives and Alex had grown even more invested in the idea of fostering.
“We’ve done our life by ourselves. We’ve travelled and done all the things we wanted to do on our own. We really want children now. It’s our time.”
So they started looking into agencies in San Antonio.
They settled on one and began the long process of training, paperwork, and readying their home. Four months later, they were ready to start receiving “the calls.”
For some reason, the calls always came from a man named Bob.
Bob would call with the details of a child or children impending removal from home. He might share information about the health and behavioral status of the child and the situation with their parents.
Finally, Bob would ask, “Yes or no?”
And the couple would be added to a list of eligible families the child could end up with.
“You’d wait four or five hours until you got a text from Bob saying, ‘Not selected. Next time.’”
The couple found this procedure nerve-racking. Not knowing if they would become foster parents that afternoon, that month, or even that year, kept them on the edge of their seats.
This went on for two months.
Finally, in the spring of 2020, Bob called again.
David and Gabriel
“There is a two-day-old baby that comes with a one-year-old brother. The baby has tested positive for meth, cocaine, and marijuana.”
The children would be removed from their parent’s custody soon. So, Bob asked the question, “Yes or no?”
Alex called her husband to debrief and decide what their answer would be. They said a prayer there on the phone and decided to say yes. They were ready to welcome Gabriel, the two-day-old, and David, the one-year-old.
Four hours later, they were approved.
Carlos rushed home to help prepare and their families planned to be there that night when the children arrived. They bought boy clothes (the couple had only had girl clothes because they’d always hoped for a girl), food, and a crib.
Gabriel, the two-day-old, was just 5 lbs.
They did their best to make sure both children were comfortable and cared for although Alex admits they struggled.
“The first week was really hard.”
The Torres’ Keep Saying Yes
In June 2020, the couple attended virtual court over a phone call and successfully adopted David and Gabriel.
In October 2021, Alex and Carlos received another call. The person on the other end said that David and Gabriel’s mother had another 14-month-old child, Angel, who’d been in foster care and could not be reunified with her.
The Torres’ had a new decision to make.
“It was going well. It was a good dynamic. We weren’t outnumbered,” Alex laughed.
They weren’t sure that adding more children made sense. They made a pro and con list. The deal breaker was keeping the sibling group together.
“How could we leave him in foster care knowing we have his brothers,” they wondered.
They said yes.
At the same time, the caseworker “dropped a bomb” on them.
“Mom is pregnant,” the caseworker said. “So just think about it.”
The new baby to be born in February 2022 would be a girl. They had been informed that the chances of removal were high.
Of course, the Torres’ had always wanted a girl.
Right before Christmas, Angel joined the family. At 14-months old, he’d been in foster care since he was a newborn.
There were little things that concerned them about his behavior. He was constantly hungry, eating quickly, nonverbal, and always playing alone.
Alex and Carlos worked hard to accommodate him and bring him into the fold with his siblings who’d adjusted to life in the Torres home.
The week after Christmas, Alex and Carlos got another call.
Isabella was born.
“We said yes. Okay let’s try it.”
They proceeded with caution because they’d only just added Angel.
“At first our family was like “Y’all are brave.” Now they’re like “Y’all are crazy!”
Angel and Isabella are eligible for adoption in December 2022 and yet again, Alex and Carlos are saying, “Yes.”
Alex currently works with the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services as the Director of Foster Care Capacity. She and a group of dedicated professionals spend their days educating communities about foster care and guiding potential foster caregivers through the process.
Learn more about that project and about being a foster parent at FosterTX.org.