There is a huge need right now for local families to mentor, foster and adopt babies, kids and teenagers who are right here in our own backyard.
KCOY 12’s Melissa Mahan met up with a foster parent, and a former foster child, who wanted to share their stories in hopes of getting more people involved.
“We tell them, we chose you. Out of all the people in the world, we chose you to be a member of our family,” Matt Pennon said.
Matt pennon and his husband have been fostering children for the last 3 years. During that time, Matt became so passionate about the cause, he started working for our county our kids. A program of Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services, that helps find kids loving homes.
“The need is huge,” Pennon said, “I didn’t know that when I started, especially in the Santa Maria north county area, it’s huge.”
Right now there are more than 425 foster kids in Santa Barbara County who need stable families.
Not long ago, Jojo Murdock was one of those kids, going into foster care when she was 8 years old.
“Well, I’ll be honest with you,” Murdock said, “there were sad moments, when there were school projects and you had to talk about your family history, that was really hard on me i didn’t know my history I didn’t know what that was, but there were also so many more beautiful moments, my first Christmas, my first time having a birthday party.”
Jojo feels like one of the lucky ones. She spent 10 years with the same foster mom who legally adopted her at the age of 24. Jojo is married now, with two boys of her own, working at Allan Hancock college advocating for foster youth enrolled there.
“When you find a family that’s willing to invest in who you are and love you through that healing process no words can express how grateful I am for that,” Murdock said.
Jojo and Matt wanted to share their stories to help break down some of the stigmas surrounding the foster care system and encourage more people to take the leap and get involved. Matt says while a few bad apples can spoil the bunch when it comes to abuse or neglect, those cases are the exception, not the rule. The same goes for the kids.
“A lot of people, in my opinion is, you think you’re getting damaged children or children that have issues that nobody else wants when honestly, life isn’t perfect, kids aren’t perfect, we’re not perfect, you’re getting a child that just wants someone to love them unconditionally,” Pennon said.
Matt and his husband are on the path to legally adopting a toddler and an infant they are currently fostering. Hoping to offer them a bright future like Jojo got.
“There’s an opportunity for anybody to open your home open your heart open your family,” Pennon said, “these kids are human beings and they deserve a chance and an opportunity.”
“You’re not just changing their life you’re changing the next generation so breaking cycles violence and abuse and the things that many kids have gone through when they come into this system, you’re making a new start for them,” Murdock said.
There have been big changes in foster/resource family programs, and Our County Our Kids hopes more people will look into mentoring, fostering or adopting.
If you’re interested, contact Our County Our Kids at 866-899-2649 or visit http://ourcountyourkids.org