Open to Love: Foster Parents Use Past Experience to Build Warm, Caring Home
Tony Subia knows just how important it is for foster children to have a warm, stable home environment … and what happens when they don’t. His father and grandfather were both in foster care as children, but didn’t have a positive experience.
“They didn’t feel loved and accepted in their foster homes. I could see the negative effects it had on them as adults,” Tony explains. “They just weren’t open to love and closeness with their own families.”
With two generations of negative foster family experiences behind him, Tony was determined to make a difference in the lives of foster children. Serving as a foster parent in Connecticut and Florida for the past seven years, he has built a caring, supportive home for the children in his care – Julio and AJ. He has cared for the boys since they were 11 and three.
When Tony’s partner Addison LeBedz joined him as a licensed foster parent in 2014, the choice was also based on personal experience. Growing up, Addison was moved back and forth between his mother and his grandmother. He craved a safe, steady home.
“I know what it’s like to wish for that feeling of stability,” Addison says. “Even when times were good, it just my mother and me. I always wanted a large family, so having a house full of children brings me joy.”
As every parent knows, there are joyful moments that come with raising children … and then there are struggles. Some of the children in the Melbourne couple’s care have had difficult behaviors and past trauma to work through. But the positive changes they see in the children make it all worthwhile.
“One of the best days of my life was when we finalized Julio’s and AJ’s adoption. It was such an inspiring event,” remembers Tony. ”Seeing them grow as happy, healthy children – that has been the most rewarding part of being a foster parent.”
Addison agrees: “Watching the children experience new things is so gratifying,” he says. “Like when I took two of the kids to the movies for the first time. They thought it was just the coolest thing!”
For those considering foster parenting, Tony and Addison caution against pre-conceived notions.
“You never know what direction a case will take,” says Tony. “As foster parents, we’ve learned to always keep the kids’ best interest in mind, even if it’s not what we might want. In the long run, you find happiness in their happiness.”