AUSTIN, Texas — Every day, nearly 1,000 children in Central Texas wait and hope for a forever home. While adoption is the goal, Texas foster care also needs families to foster children.
To help people who are considering the idea, foster parents Andrea and Mike Brauer shared their experience fostering a child with KVUE's Tori Larned.
The Brauers officially fostered their first child, 14-year-old Mia, almost a year-and-a-half ago. They said it has been an invaluable experience bringing her into their home.
Andrea Brauer's background helped give her the urge to foster. She was a CPS worker earlier on in life and knew she would want to someday be a part of the solution when the timing was right.
"I had a caseload of kids that were amazing and they did not have forever families. They didn't have permanent homes. They weren't sure where they were going to be next year," she said.
Her husband, Mike Brauer, was on board from the beginning. Initially, they were respite care parents, meaning they were not fully-licensed but were trained to take care of children temporarily to assist other foster families.
"Once we got licensed, we got our foster daughter and we have had her ever since," he said.
Andrea and Mike Brauer already have two children. They worried about the transition from four to five people in their home, but Andrea said it was easier for their family than they anticipated. Mia felt the same way.
"I felt a little shy when I first came here, but after a while, I got comfortable being around my foster family. Now, I act like myself and I enjoy helping out," Mia said.
While the Brauer's gained a lot from the experience, they believe Mia did too. The 14-year-old moved around a lot and experienced neglect before settling at this home. Since then, they noticed her academics improving, her confidence growing and normalcy setting in.
Even the Brauers' two biological kids welcomed the idea of another sibling. Nina Brauer, their 14-year-old daughter, said they play card games and talk about their day together. Meanwhile, her brother will go ride bikes with Mia.
"It's just kind of exciting to have her here," Nina Brauer said.
After fostering, the Brauer's were inspired to start a nonprofit called Connect for Success, which matches community volunteers with kids in foster care to give them the educational support they need to stay in school, improve academic performance and achieve greater success later in life.
"We love her and she loves us and she's part of our family," Andrea Brauer said.
The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) will host multiple virtual meetings this year for anyone interesting in fostering or adopting a child, including four in February:
- Tuesday, Feb. 9, 12 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 10, 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 17, 6 p.m.
- Thursday, Feb. 18, 5:30 p.m.
DFPS will discuss the scope and requirements of being a foster or adoptive parent and allow people to ask questions.
Specific information on upcoming virtual meetings and links are available online here. More information is available on the DFPS foster and adoption line at 1-800-233-3405 or online at www.adoptchildren.org.
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