This weekend is a celebration for mothers everywhere; however, for the 7,800 foster children in Wisconsin, it can be a lot more difficult.
"It's a day of many mixed emotions, but my first priority are the foster kids and how they're feeling about missing their mom and how those moms are feeling about missing their kids on that day," Carrie Sgarlata, a local foster parent said.
Sgarlata has three of her own children but she began fostering kids four and a half years ago. When it comes to days like Mother's Day, she makes sure her family doesn't overdo it for her. She wants to make sure the foster children don't feel left out or get depressed about their own mother. She puts the day aside to focus on these kids.
"We try to take the time to make a gift or send a present on a visit with their moms," Sgarlata said. "We make sure to recognize their moms."
Now, her family is currently fostering their ninth and 10th children. With their 4-year-old golden retriever named Beckett, things can get pretty wild in their home.
But she wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's a tough job," Sgarlata said. "I'm not going to lie. It's not for the faint of heart but it's a very rewarding thing to do."
Her inspiration for fostering children came back when she was student-teaching. There was a boy named Adam who tugged at her heart.
"I felt that Adam wasn't necessarily given a fair shake," Sgarlata said. "I thought he was judged for reasons out of his control. I knew that there would be other kids I'd encounter as a teacher and now as a foster parent that have so much potential, yet don't have the right path or support to be taken care of and nurtured and loved the way they should be."
His photo still sits on her desk as a reminder of why she does the selfless work her family does.
Children like Adam are on the increase in Wisconsin and specifically Milwaukee County. More than 26% of the foster children in the state are in Milwaukee County and 75 to 100 new kids per month go into foster care.
"There's always a level where we need people," Oriana Carey, CEO of Coalition for Children, Youth and Families said. "I say that because if it happened to you, some unforeseen circumstance, your children would need to be cared for by someone else. You'd want to know that the social worker making that decision had choices. She had choices that matched your children's needs or we had families that had the capacity to take care of sibling groups so they didn't have to be separated."
So good homes, like the Sgarlata's, can welcome in kids during dire times. So when it comes to Mother's Day, Father's Day, even birthdays, it's a strong family home that can help these kids feel they are loved.
"They're trying to help the birth family have their children come back home," Carey said. "Because that's really the goal."
"When you see the smiles on their faces and you get the cuddles and you get the love and see them running around and feel like they can behave and act like normal children, you know that you're doing the job the right way," Sgarlata said. "Everyone is trying to work together to help these children successfully reunify with their parents."
If you feel passionate about becoming a foster parent, visit fosterparentsrock.org for more information.