Renato and Nellie Jimenez hadn’t planned to fall in love with foster parenting.
The couple knew they wanted to adopt, but when they learned about the desperate need for foster families, they decided to also open their heart and home to children in need of safe, temporary care.
“We realized there are some big needs out there,” Renato says. “Sometimes, we might not see it. But there are people suffering and struggling. We knew our family could make a difference.”
Over the last four years, Renato and Nellie have adopted four children and are currently fostering three. Their children range from 6 months old to 14 years old.
Renato and Nellie enjoy fostering children of all ages, and they focus their parenting on helping them stay connected to their history and culture whenever possible. Especially for older children, Renato says it is vital to be given a safe space to open up and talk about the past in a healthy way.
“The most rewarding experience is the transformation of the kids,” he says. “They come with baggage and they come hurt. But we can provide a home and love and security for them, so they know they belong in a family. We’re there to teach and guide them.”
More caring families are desperately needed to provide foster care for children in western Iowa. While it takes plenty of hard work, patience, and strength, Renato says even the most difficult days are worth it.
“Foster parenting is hard, it’s noisy. But be there for the kids. They need you,” he says. “The more healthy and supportive people these kids have around them, the better. Help them carry the load.”