ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — As the Biden Administration tries to stop the flow of unaccompanied migrant children coming into the United States, many are already stateside and need places to stay.
That’s why officials with Bethany Christian Services, a nationwide nonprofit that helps connect the children with temporary foster homes, say they hope Central Floridians will open their doors to help the children.
What You Need To Know
- Orange County couple foster unaccompanied children
- Many youths already in the U.S. need a temporary place to stay, nonprofit's officials say
- Children only can communicate with parents by phone
- Youths often are reunited later with parents who are in U.S. legally, foster parent says
For the past six years, Aldaberto and Liliam have served as temporary foster parents for about 100 unaccompanied children who made the long journey across the border. They give them a place to sleep and toys to play with until they can be, hopefully, reunited with their parents.
Aldaberto said it can take at least three weeks for the sponsor paperwork to finalize, and many times, the sponsors are the child's birthparents who now live in the United States legally. The reunion is the first time many of the children see their parents since they first left their homes.
The children can only communicate with their parents over the phone, Aldaberto said. They arrive at his house with a piece of paper that has their parents’ phone number written on it. If they lose it, they won't be able to communicate with their parents.
“It’s hard," he said, while he wiped away a tear. “It’s hard because you can just imagine the parents leaving the kids after spending your entire life with the kids and from one day to another they just leave.”
Before arriving at a temporary foster home, the children stayed at migrant facilities. Aldaberto said he believes those camps traumatized the children.
“I had a kid and when I went to put him in an elevator, he wouldn’t go in,” Aldaberto said. “He wouldn’t go in because he thought he was going to walk into a walk-in-box.”
Aldaberto said the children call the thermal blankets they’re given a walk-in box.
Bethany Christian Services leaders said they hope more foster parents can help house these children to prevent them from remaining in migrant facilities.
“Our kids have everything but then you see these kids and they go through so much and they’re so appreciative that it’s incredible,” Aldaberto said.
The couple said they hope they can get another batch of children to care for and hope others will do the same.