BY DESTINY LOPEZ
September 2, 2014
Judith Ortiz became a certified foster parent through a therapeutic foster care program at Boys & Girls Village of New Haven and adopted a set of four siblings after fostering them for three years.
“My kids were getting older, I was by myself. I thought if I could make a difference in one child’s life, that would be enough,” said the Meriden woman.
Ortiz has two biological children, Jasmine Rivera, 27, and Jonathan Rivera, 20. She adopted twin girls, Angelica and Adelina, and their brothers, Andres and Luis who were 9, 12, and 5 years old at the time.
Ortiz also fostered an older group of four siblings who returned to their biological mother but eventually went back into state care.
Although she did not adopt them, she keeps in touch with them as much as possible, calling the children of the oldest girl of the group her grandchildren and allowing another to live with her.
Ortiz has fostered 10 children all together and one called her recently with a last minute request.
“He said, ‘Ma, I don’t have a parent to come to my graduation, but I would like you to come.’ I was supposed to go to a retirement party but my son needed me,” she said, “For him to call me, I knew I made a difference in his life.”
Ortiz, who works full time for Yankee Gas in Waterbury, won’t deny being a foster mom, especially a single one, is difficult.
“He wanted nothing to do with me,” she said of Andres, who was the oldest of the siblings she adopted. “He didn’t trust me so I put myself in his shoes. We have to sit back and think, imagine me coming into a stranger’s home and making it my home. That doesn’t fly as an adult, imagine a child.”
After two years, Andres asked Ortiz if he could give her a hug and kiss goodnight. She said she was so excited that she called her social worker to share the news.
“They come with trauma, yes they do. Are you ready for that? No, you’re not. But if you’re consistent with love, patience and endurance, they’re going to see that,” Ortiz said. “You can’t give up after the first disappointment.”
“We have to sit back and think, imagine me coming into a stranger’s home and making it my home. That doesn’t fly as an adult, imagine a child.”
Judith Ortiz of Meriden adopted four siblings in 2012 after being their foster parent for three years. The children are, from left, Angelica, 12; Andres, 15; Luis, 8; and Adelina, 12.