- November 26, 2014
Post submitted by Debra Howard, Community Outreach & Marketing Manager for Devereux Arizona, an HRC-recognized Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBT Youth and Families.
Catalina Garcia and Milissa Mace are Devereux Arizona foster and adoptive parents who were recently awarded the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Angels in Adoption Award in Washington, D.C. The couple received the award because of their passion for helping foster children and their commitment to providing permanent, loving homes.
Catalina and Milissa’s journey began when they became aware of the foster care crisis. Employed as a Pascua Yaqui Detention Sergeant, Milissa encountered one heartbreaking situation after another as she found herself responding to calls involving abuse and neglect of children. As a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Catalina was also acutely aware of the difficulties the community faced in providing foster homes. Witnessing the tremendous need, Milissa and Catalina felt compelled to open their home to children and chose to become licensed foster parents. They also adopted their first child during this time. They continued serving the Pascua Yaqui community in this capacity for five years and fostered five children, all of whom had varying levels of need.
As foster parents, Milissa and Catalina worked closely with the biological families of each child to ensure their bonds and attachments were preserved and that if at all possible they could return to the care of their families. In 2012, when two brothers needed a home, Catalina and Milissa quickly sought to amend their foster care license to facilitate placement of both boys, whom they later adopted.
Milissa and Catalina have fostered a total of 12 children and adopted four in the eight years they have been fostering. The Mace-Garcia family includes four boys: John, Julian, Jackson, and James ages 3, 4, 7 and 14, respectively. Besides being an LGBT adoptive family, their family has a diverse blend of cultures including Anglo, Hispanic, and Pascua Yaqui.
When I asked them their secret for making it all work they explained that “having a strong family bond and communication” were the key ingredients. They have continued to foster and adopt because they wanted to be there for the kids and make a difference. From the testimonies of those who know them well to the smiles on their children’s faces, it is clear that Milissa and Catalina have made a difference for the children whose lives they have touched.
Milissa and Catalina continue to actively recruit friends and family members to be foster parents by letting them know how rewarding it is to provide a loving home for a child. “You can change or make a difference in a child’s life no matter what age they are,” they emphatically state. Devereux Arizona is grateful to Milissa and Catalina for their enduring selflessness in providing loving homes for Arizona children and congratulates them on receiving the Angels in Adoption award. They are truly deserving of this honor.
This November, HRC is proud to celebrate National Adoption Month. Throughout the month, HRC will recognize the adoption agencies that participate in our All Children – All Families Project, demonstrating their commitment to improving outcomes for LGBT youth in foster care, and welcoming and supporting LGBT families. Stay tuned to HRC blog throughout the month for more adoption stories.