I met Jaime in my early 20s; he was roommates with one of my first Gay friends who incorporated me into the group of friends who went out to the San Diego scene back in those days. That was 20 years ago and now keeping up with Jaime through social media, I was delighted to find out that he and his partner Thomas had become foster parents. I reached out to him and asked if he would be interested in talking about their journey and the reasons they became foster parents. Being February, the month of love, we wanted to spotlight the unconditional love that foster parents give to kids in need of a stable home.
Foster Parents Jaime and Thomas Valle
Tell our readers about yourselves: How long have you been together; where are you guys from; and how long have you lived in San Diego?
Thomas and I have been together almost 11 years, of which we have been married 5 1/2 years. I am a San Diego native and have lived here all my life. Thomas was born and raised in the Antelope Valley and has lived in San Diego for 11 1/2 years.
What made you want to become foster parents?
We actually never wanted to be foster parents. We were so scared and honest with ourselves thinking that we weren’t strong enough to have a baby in our home and then have them removed. We always wanted to adopt and even worked with an adoption agency from LA for about a year and a half and invested thousands of dollars, only to have them file bankruptcy and leave us empty-handed and heartbroken. Our desire to have our own family overcame all obstacles so we entertained many other options, such as surrogacy, but none worked out or were simply too expensive to afford after such an impactful hit financially from the agency. We found ourselves revisiting the foster program and decided to give it a chance in hopes to someday be able to foster to adopt, but at the very least share our many blessings and be able to help and support children in need.
How long have you been foster parents? And how many kids have you fostered?
We have been foster parents almost three years and have fostered seven children. Our most recent one came home Jan. 21, 2021. Four boys and three girls.
How would you describe the experience?
The experience has been like no other. It has been the most fulfilling and rewarding feeling ever. Seeing a smile on these children’s faces is amazing. The love and reciprocation we get from these kids is unexplainable.
Is it hard to say goodbye to the kids? Do you stay in touch?
Saying goodbye is the hardest thing imaginable. It is every bit as difficult and painful as we ever imagined it to be and it was the reason why we avoided it from the very beginning. We try our best to keep in touch with all of our babies but at the end of the day, it is up to the biological parents. We have been able to keep in touch with all but one of our kids. We stay strong and in the game for all of our kids and crumble and cry behind closed doors. Despite the pain we feel when we have to say goodbye, the amount of joy we are filled with outweighed the hurt.
How was the process when you first decided to become foster parents?
The foster parent process was not difficult at all but it does require some time and dedication. It took us almost a year to complete all of our classes and requirements to be able to obtain our license and permits. There are several questionnaires and interviews that are very personal and rather invasive. Definitely have to be very secure and confident.
Did you face any issues being a Gay couple?
We have never encountered any issues for being Gay from the foster community. We have had slight issues with disgruntled parents but nothing we haven’t been able to handle. We encountered more discrimination and issues from adoption agencies when we began our adoption journey, as many adoption agencies will not work with same-sex couples. Even when we first started looking into adoption, it was “you have to be married, own a house,” more of a “standard” checklist to qualify.
What would you say to someone who is interested in becoming a foster parent?
I strongly encourage anyone who is not selfish and has the will and desire to help others, to definitely become a foster parent. There are so many children in need of love, a family, comfort and guidance out there. Be ready and very aware of what you want and are able to handle as you may get every and any type of child with an array of trauma. Be organized and ready to dedicate your time to caring for these children, as it is very time consuming and demanding. Visits with parents, social workers, counselors, therapists, doctors, dentists, school, day care, sports, activities, etc. Remember: you will be providing these children as normal of a life as possible. But ultimately remember, these kids are looking to feel as if they are your own and how you should view them.
Any resources for people thinking about becoming foster parents?
Definitely educate yourself in the program, laws, processes and our government system. Go through the County (of San Diego), as they provide all the info and assistance needed to aid you in becoming a foster parent. Going through the county is most affordable and, in most cases, at no expense. Dealing with social workers and the broken system are definitely the most difficult part of it all. So, it’s important to educate yourself to be able to conduct yourself as the special parent and guardian you need to be for your babies.