Putting their principles into practice
Joseito and Ruth Velasquez had been married for 10 years when they decided to become foster parents in 2009. The couple are both Puerto Rican, and Spanish is Ruth’s first language. They were certified through a bilingual program developed to increase the number of Spanish-speaking foster families in Denver, a city where at that time, 51 percent of the children in foster care were Hispanic.
Joseito and Ruth fostered five Spanish-speaking children before setting their sights on adoption in 2011.
Parents—“just like that!”
One day soon the Velasquez’s caseworker called with good news. A sibling group of three children had just become available for adoption. Would Joseito and Ruth be interested in meeting them?
“Our worker told us their names, and we fell in love. Jasmine. Janessa. Joseph. We hadn’t even seen their pictures. We didn’t know if they were white, African American…Hispanic. It didn’t matter. What mattered at that moment was that there were three kids who needed parents, and we were available,” Joseito said.
As Joseito and Ruth began the adoption process, their caseworker called again. The boy they had been fostering for the last two years, Josiah, was about to become available for adoption. Were they interested in adopting him as well? Again, Joseito and Ruth did not hesitate.
“We thought, let’s just wait a little bit longer and adopt all of them at the same time. On March 22, 2012, we walked into the courthouse at 3 p.m. By 4 p.m. we were the parents of four. Just like that!”
Children bring a change in focus
Joseito says that one of the biggest challenges to adopting children was the adjustment. As a senior pastor, Joseito frequently travels around the country to preach. And as a couple, Joseito and Ruth would often take impromptu vacations or spend long weekends away.
“Our priorities totally changed. Everything changed. Now our whole lives are focused on making sure that our children have an opportunity to have a normal life. It is not a sacrifice. We are blessed to have the opportunity to be their providers and their protectors.”
“Things that we take for granted are amazing to them”
Joseito and Ruth celebrated the adoption of Jasmine, Janessa, Joseph, and Josiah with a family reunion trip to Disney World. Soon after, they took the children to meet more family members in Puerto Rico.
“Being Puerto Rican, everyone is a cousin. The kids were amazed that they had all of these family members. They kept asking: ‘I have an uncle?’ ‘I have a grandma?’ Something we take for granted is our family. It was amazing to watch them discover that now, they have family too.”
In the end, it is all about the children
Every March, the Velasquez family celebrates their adoption anniversary with cake and festivities, often with their church family—the members of Joseito’s congregation. Last December, Joseito and Ruth turned their 15th anniversary into a wedding-like event at their church because the children wanted to see what their wedding had been like.
“Our kids saw our wedding pictures and asked, ‘Dad, we weren’t in your wedding, can we go to your wedding?’ I told them that it doesn’t work that way! But they really wanted to experience it, they wanted to wear the dresses and suits, to carry the flowers, to be in the pictures. It was our anniversary party, but the celebration was all about them.”
Like Joseito and Ruth, the majority of parents foster before adopting. Learn about being a foster parent and the support parents receive.