WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) — “You know you just love them and they become part of your family,” said Monica Granata, foster/adoptive parent.
Monica Granata has fostered dozens of kids over the past ten years. She and her husband never had intentions of adopting, but that changed after briefly fostering Amber and her sister Jazmin.
“Amber was in a foster home and she was supposed to be adopted and her sister Jazmin and the foster mother died of cancer,” said Granata.
Monica adopted Amber when she was 14-years-old. Before then, amber had been in foster care since she was 4.
“Before I went in foster care me and my siblings we were living with my mom and she wasn’t really a fit mom. She didn’t really do the best at being a mom she didn’t really take care of us. The envirornment that we were in wasn’t really the greatest,” said 17-year-old Amber Granata.
Amber says her life really turned around thanks to her adoptive parents. Though Amber and her sister Jazmin weren’t adopted together, Monica’s family members who live just down the street adopted Jazmin to keep the two sisters close together.
“I love being close to my sister I’ve been close with her for my whole entire life,” said 13-year-old Jazmin Granata.
“Being separated it was hard, but the fact that she’s still in the family made it so much easier on me,” said Amber Granata.
Amber has plans to join the Marine Corps once she graduates high school. She thanks her adoptive mom for opening up her home and heart, and leading her down a better path.
“Everybody deserves a safe place to live and to feel like they belong,” said Monica Granata, foster/adoptive parent.
More than a thousand children rely on foster care in Erie and Niagara counties alone. Hillside Family of Agencies is one of several in the region that places children in foster care. Hillside serves 10 counties in Western New York, and has over 100 kids in foster homes.
Most children are temporarily placed in foster care due to parental abuse or neglect. These kids depend on these homes for a safe environment. Across the state at least 20,000 kids are in the foster care system.
“Their parents could very well be having a drug addiction problem or have their own mental health issues where they’re not able to take care of the kids. We have over 100 children in foster care and we only have 136 homes it’s really hard to match kids up keep them in their communities, there may be foster parents who can’t foster at the moment or they may not be able to take that particular child so we have to have a big variety of homes,” said Judy Bellafaire, Hillside Children’s Center Program Manager.
There is a certification process that involves a background check to become a foster parent. For more information on how you can become a foster parent, go to https://www.hillside.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org