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she had presented us, we would not have met Zion.” Jamie paused, “If we hadn’t had those feelings, or been true to ourselves about those feelings, Zion would not be living with us right now. It felt very... The way the universe wanted it.” Five-years-old when he was placed with them


in early 2010, they officially adopted Zion that October. The process moved quickly, in part because of his age and race, factors often making some children harder to place. “A Caucasian baby girl is seven times more likely to be placed than an African-American boy over the age of three,” Alec shared. “Those are hard statistics. As much as we wanted to be parents, he needed parents desperately. We were his fifth placement and he’d been in the system since he was three-and-a-half-years-old. He bonded with us immediately. He became our kid instantly,” Alec concluded. Their involvement with RaiseAChild began a


few years ago after meeting founder and CEO Rich Valenza and his foster adopted family through a friend on the board. “Rich is such a passionate advocate,” said Alec. “The thing he always talks about is as a gay man he’s used to discrimination, but when you hear children in the system are being discriminated against, that’s an injustice he won’t stand for and we feel the same way. We became strong advocates, because there are kids in the system who get passed over, because people have a prejudice against them. Like they’re flawed or damaged goods, when the truth is they’re just kids.” Added Jamie, “And, oftentimes come with better toolkits because they’ve had to deal with things that kids in birth families don’t.” As a multiracial family, they are excited to con-


tribute to educating and inspiring others through the “Reimagine Foster Parents™” campaign. “I think those banners are very powerful. People see them and go, ‘That’s a family,’” explained Jamie. “And, if they are someone who could picture themselves in that situation, whether straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, single parent...Whatever it is, they can


go ‘Oh, I could be that.’ We’re with RaiseAChild because they’re doing great work. If we can do anything to help them, we will be there. I think just by us being a family and walking out the front door together is a statement about the future of family and what a family truly is.”


“We’ve received mostly positive responses,” continued Alec. “I think it’s because when you see us in person, we undeniably belong together. None of us look like each other, but we all make the same faces, we all have the same sense of humor and we all have the same passionate outlook. One of the foster kid traits, is they’re very compassionate. My son is very aware of when an injustice is taking place or somebody’s being treated unfairly. He’s an extraordinary person.” With over 425,000 children in the nation’s


foster care system and more than 108,000 waiting to be adopted, the need for foster and adoptive parents has never been greater. “This is a solvable problem,” stressed Alec. “If everybody in the United States knew about the kids in the system and knew this was an option to start a family, we could potentially solve the foster care crisis.”


RaiseAChild offers free informational sessions in May for anyone wanting to learn about becoming foster parents: Tuesday, May 16 The Garland in North Hollywood at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 17 La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Downtown Los Angeles at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18 Lambert Gallery, Bergamot Station Santa Monica, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20, The Saguaro in Palm Springs at 11:00 a.m. Sunday, May 21 All Saints Church in Pasadena at 12:30 p.m.


Alec Mapawill be on hand to share his wit and wisdom on Tuesday, May 16, Thursday, May 18,and Saturday, May 20. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Walden Family Services is the exclusive sponsor ofThe Palm Springs free RaiseAChild event. For more information, go to waldenfamily.org.


For more information, or to RSVP for an event, call 323.417.1440 go to raiseachild.org .


MAY 2017 | RAGE monthly 17


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