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Former foster youth and PCHAS foster parent Jessica Leiva always knew she wanted to be a foster parent later in life. But it happened sooner rather than later. We spoke to Jessica and her husband, Ruben, to get a glimpse of how they began their fostering journey.
How did you get interested in fostering?
I was a foster youth at age 14 and aged out of foster care. I never thought I would be fostering, to be honest; I felt the calling in my younger twenties but ran from it. When I first started dating my husband back in 2014, I told him, “I don’t know when or how it’s going to happen, but God has called me to foster.” Shortly after that, I began working with at-risk youth and in mental health. When Ruben was open and supportive about the decision, we applied to two agencies. We were accepted to both and chose Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS). My own foster parents started out at PCHAS many years ago and it was closer.
How long have you been fostering?
We moved to Itasca in May of 2018 to work at PCHAS’ group home. When we heard about changing the group home to separate foster homes, I remember feeling anxious and a bit worried but having peace that God was fulfilling his promise and pushing us into our destiny. With the help of PCHAS, we got licensed and officially started fostering in March 2020. Our favorite part of Itasca, by far, is the foster community we live in!
Can you tell me about the children you are fostering?
We have had several sibling sets through the years: two sets of four, two sets of two and several individually placed. Currently, we have no sibling sets but have hopes of fostering a sibling pair before they reunify with family. Our current age range is 12-16, with one boy and two girls. We’ve also had one 18-year-old kiddo who went off to college, whom we still keep close contact with. Our college student came to us when we first started here at PCHAS and went through the many transitions with us. We consider all of the kiddos a part of the family and hope to maintain lifelong connections.