Jun 27, 2019
On this episode, host April Fallon interviews Veronica Arteaga. She is the vice president of children and family services at the California-based Wayfinder Family Services. Veronica is an adoptive, biological, and foster mom of three children!
To start this episode, April starts at the beginning when Veronica was a social worker.
Veronica states that she has spent most of her professional career in the field of child welfare. So she has been a case manager, a therapist, a counselor at a group home, and she is currently overseeing child welfare, housing programs, and foster care and adoption.
When asked why she got into foster care and adoption, Veronica says that her first job had a lot to do with it. Her first position was working as a counselor in a group home. Through her counseling position, she saw the trauma and brokenness that many kids experience in group homes. This changed her and instilled in her mind the conviction to devote her career to helping those kids specifically.
At this point, she knew her career was being shaped by all she witnessed up close, but she had no idea it would trickle down into her personal life as well. April then asks when she decided on foster care.
After struggling with fertility difficulties, Veronica and her husband decided that after three years of marriage they were going to see a fertility specialist. In the process of waiting for the test results, she was also really considering foster care. Asking God for a sign, He delivered shortly after:
“I said out loud, ‘God if there is something that you are really calling me to do, give me a sign.’ And I turned the corner as I was driving to work and there was literally a billboard...it was a picture of a woman and she was reading to a small child and it said: ‘Be the reason she’s safe.’”
She and her husband started going to foster care classes shortly after. They were pursuing infertility treatments at the same time as well, and Veronica got successfully pregnant through IUI. Unfortunately for the couple though, her hormone numbers were not high enough to maintain the pregnancy, so they experienced a miscarriage.
Distraught from this tragic turn of events, Veronica wanted a break from infertility treatments. Her husband had a good feeling about the next cycle, and so they tried again shortly after. This round of IUI would prove to be successful. This was in December of 2015, just a month before they became licensed to be foster parents.
When April asked if they stayed on the list to be foster parents at this point, she said they were just testing the waters. After getting multiple calls within the first few weeks, they ultimately decided to pursue foster care at a later date. They knew for sure they were going to go through with foster care in the future though!
Shortly after they had been put on hold, Veronica received a random call about a little girl who needed to be placed in a home. With the help of an amazing support network and a lot of resources, they both agreed on the little girl!
April asks if she thought it would lead to adoption, and Veronica said she had no idea at that point. She was as easy a baby as you could imagine. She slept soundly and was quiet! They ended up naming her Grace because that was what she brought into their lives.
When asked if she attached to Grace right away, she said she did. Even after giving birth, she wanted to see Grace as well because she missed her. April then asks Veronica how different it was to be a foster parent instead of a social worker in this dynamic.
It was really challenging because the first role of a foster parent and social worker is for the reunification of the child and birth family. So getting attached makes it difficult to part with the child. She felt so sad imagining that Grace would go somewhere, and not know the environment, and wonder where her mom was.
At this point, April asks her how she found peace during this situation. It was her husband who really provided perspective on the issue, saying that Veronica was spending more time being sad about a situation that may never happen instead of enjoying the joyous moments they were experiencing then and there.
So, time and time again, Social Services reached out to various family members for Grace, but nothing ever materialized. This was a tense time because Social Services never really told them that they’re good, so they were in a state of limbo about Grace’s rights for a long time. Eventually though, the parental rights were terminated, and they gained much-needed peace about Grace.
When asked how she interacts with adoptive parents now, Veronica says that she comes from a place of more understanding and empathy now.
“I think as professionals in child welfare, we expect a lot of our foster and adoptive parents. And it’s one thing to conceptualize it, and it’s another thing to experience it.”
Despite vowing to never go through the process again, Veronica and her husband did do it again! As she states, her husband originally wasn’t on board, but after God communicated to her and told her they would be fine with another child, they were both on board. Six weeks later, they brought a baby boy home!