If you ask Pacific Clinic Resource Parents Arnicca and Juana when they first started fostering, the married couple will tell you two different stories.
The very first time Juana became a resource (foster) parent she was 17 years old, barely out of the foster care system herself, and gained legal guardianship of her siblings.
“It was my dream to get them out. They were my babies,” says Juana.
Arnicca was also young when she was introduced to the idea of fostering, but her experience was through the lens of serving as a resource family. When Arnicca was 12 years old, her mom began fostering infants and toddlers who needed temporary care.
“I would have 13-15 sisters and brothers today if I had my way,” she says, speaking to the fact that she wished she could’ve adopted them all.
Arnicca always thought she would follow in her mom’s footsteps fostering babies, but her own journey took a slightly different path.
“I’m a softy and I cry – and when I met these teens [in the foster care system] and heard their stories, I wanted to fight a war for them. They just want to be loved and liked. They are not as the world paints them to be,” says Arnicca.
The couple’s story converges over their passion for helping teens, as Juana also feels especially tied to these youth knowing first-hand (from her own experiences in the foster system) how hard it is to be that age, in someone else’s home, and often with other kids.
Together, the couple has fostered 11 pre-teens and teens in the Capital Region since 2018 and a few children through kinship (becoming a resource family to a relative or friend) care prior to that.
“We’ve always had an open home and open door for everyone who needed help,” says Juana. “This is where our calling is. This is what we were supposed to do.”
“We don’t do this for the money. It’s our passion and we love [it],” Arnicca says.
They are now the adoptive parents of 14-year-old Andrew and resource parents to their 17-year-old daughter.
Andrew was 11 years old when he first arrived at their house and was set to stay there only through the weekend. But on Saturday morning, he announced he was not leaving, and the couple said they couldn’t argue.
“We fell in love with [him],” says Juana. “He gels with our family. His bio[logical] family is also amazing.”
Before living with Arnicca and Juana, Andrew had been taking several medications for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Together, the family worked hard to find alternative solutions and eventually were able to reduce both the number of medications and the dosage amounts by half.
“There are some who are always going to call you ‘mom’ and come home for Thanksgiving, and some who just live in your heart for always,” says Juana. “They impact your life [and] teach you so much, too. It’s not just one way.”
Today, the family likes to hang out together, go to amusement parks and visit places such as Palm Springs, Universal Studios and Arizona.
“Don’t give up on the youth,” Arnicca says when asked what she’d tell other potential resource parents. “Babies are awesome and the cutest, but [older kids] are just as awesome and they can bring you just as much love and joy. There will be hard days, but making a change in their lives is the best reward.”
“I look forward to the day they show up on our door, married or successful and say ‘remember me?’”