"Mama Elaine"

Feb 27, 2024 - In the News, Foster Care and Adoption


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Elaine was two years old when her father died, yet she and her mother were never alone. “Family all filled in to support us; I was somewhat fostered myself.” Elaine’s experience with receiving care and support from her village of family members is a big part of the reason she decided to become a foster parent. Her deep care for kids and desire to see them live healthy, happy lives is another driving force. “I’m single, and I knew I wouldn’t have a huge family, but I still wanted to make an impact for a kid.”

Sixteen years ago, Elaine began her career in education. She earned a master’s degree and now works as a Dyslexia Therapist. She is good at her job, and because she is fluent in English and Spanish, she is in high demand.

Eight years ago, her desire to foster began to grow. She wanted to give kids the stability and support she had, so she bought a house and worked on her finances to ensure a good foundation. She also researched foster care, the needs of kids, and how it works in Texas. “I wanted to know what I can handle… know myself and explore my gifts.” She searched the internet, joined groups of foster parents on social media and looked at comments about experiences and agencies. “PCHAS had the most positive comments,” she said, “so I called PCHAS!”

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She took her time as she got ready. “Nothing can really prepare you,” she said, “but it all helped.” She remembers one “ah-ha” moment in a PCHAS Pre-Service Training class where the presenter talked about normalcy for teenagers. The belief that teens in foster care deserve to have the same opportunities as kids who are not in foster care resonated with Elaine. She left the class realizing that “they’ll mess up, but I’ll mess up, too.”

It took Elaine about seven months to complete the steps for verification with PCHAS. Two months later, she welcomed a teenager who had not had an easy childhood. The girl was fluent in two languages, but English was not one of them. Elaine’s ability to communicate with the youth was a real asset, but outside the home, she still had to navigate systems for a child who was not fluent in English. Elaine gave the example of doctors speaking privately with teens during exams. She needed to find providers who could communicate directly with the girl so appointments would not be confusing or frightening.

Elaine sounds like she has been a mom for a long time, but that wasn’t always the case. She was initially unsure how she would feel having a stranger move into her home. She knew she would have to rearrange her schedule, and her whole life would change. “But, I made it work in a way that honors my values and customs and honors hers, too,” shared Elaine. As she navigated the changes, Elaine gained confidence in herself. “She wanted to call me ‘mom’ the second week,” Elaine shared. “I wanted to respect her family and have good boundaries, so we agreed on ‘Mama Elaine.’ The name stuck, and I love it.”

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Because of the teen’s circumstances, Elaine will probably foster her until she becomes an adult. Legal permanency through adoption is not likely, but Elaine said it does not change how she feels. She knows teens may want to reconnect with their birth family after they leave the foster care system. So, Elaine is working to forge a strong bond with openness and acceptance in hopes she will always get to be part of the girl’s life. “I love her like she’s mine, but I’m also open to whatever is in her future,” said Elaine. “I will always advocate for her and respect her family.”

Elaine says the PCHAS Case Managers and her Foster Care & Adoption Program Director, Bliss Williams, have been the most helpful. “I can always text, email or call. I never feel alone and know PCHAS has my back.” She has an incredible support system, too. Elaine’s sister has been ready to help from the beginning. She became a babysitter and has always been a shoulder to lean (or cry) on. Elaine’s mom lives in Puerto Rico but has built a long-distance relationship with Elaine’s daughter. The teen now calls Elaine’s mom every day. She also has friends she can rely on, and she has found the administration, staff, and teachers at the teen’s high school to be incredibly supportive. “The school has welcomed and supported her, made sure her needs were met and given her the same opportunities as her peers. School has been such a good thing, and she wants to go to school,” said Elaine. “[My family, friends and the school] have all opened their arms to her, and I am grateful.”

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Over the past eighteen months, Elaine says she has learned a lot, and she’s been blessed. She can see how her experiences have helped her to see her child’s perspective and have compassion. “I can see ahead, which helps me anticipate her needs.” When asked to share the best part of the experience, Elaine said, “I’ve discovered a different kind of love. I love watching her be resilient, forgive others, and know that no matter what, I’ll be there for her. I am watching her become a new and different version of herself that she is proud of.”

If you want to impact the lives of kids in foster care and get a front row seat to watch them grow and thrive, we want to meet you! Connect With Us at 281-324-0544 or or Join An Online Info Session to learn more.

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