There are those with a desire to fulfill a calling that leads them to do great things. Gabby Rivera, a 29-year-old woman from Panama, is one of these people. Even before she and her husband got married, they had decided to become foster parents. “I wanted to adopt, I wanted to do foster care… I told him even before we were married, ‘Hey, this is a big part of what I want to do. Would you be open to it?’
This decision sparked the beginning of their journey to become licensed foster parents. They eased their way into the process by providing respite care- temporarily caring for children whose foster parents needed a break. This first step into the world of foster care, solidified their desire to continue their incredible journey.
As they became more comfortable, Gabby and her husband took a leap and decided to provide a temporary home for a young Muslim Afghan girl who had been living in the US for over a year but needed a new place to stay. “We started praying, and we felt we were gonna get a message soon about getting a placement, and I feel like it’s gonna be a girl… A week later, our amazing licensing worker messaged us that they needed a temporary placement,” Gabby recalls.
To make their home a supportive place for this girl, Gabby and her husband first needed to understand her culture and religious practices. This is where the Muslim Foster Care Association (MFCA) stepped in. “Praise God for MFCA because Shona, Ranya, the team came up and they partnered with us… they were like, ‘We are going to teach you everything you need to know to be able to be the home for a Muslim girl,’” Gabby says with gratitude.
The road they traveled was not easy, but it was full of advantages. Gabby and her husband found happiness and fulfillment as they got to know their foster daughter, learned about her cultural and religious needs, and guided her through the process of applying for work and to colleges. They became close by playing games together and telling each other stories.
“My soul and my spirit are beaming because I know I am doing exactly what I’m supposed to do, and there’s nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than saying yes when you see a need,” Gabby reveals.
Gabby’s story is an inspiration to us all. A journey of love, learning, and endless rewards, it shows us that while the path may be challenging, the destination is worth every step. And it reminds us that when we open our hearts and homes to children in need, we not only change their lives but ours too.
As Gabby asks, “What’s your ‘yes’ today?”
Whether you desire to start your own journey by reaching out to an agency, attending a training, providing respite care, or something else, go ahead and say “yes” and take that first step. The MFCA is here to guide and support you along your journey.
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