"I know Andre and Friends will be there for us and make sure we succeed. Friends of the Children helps change the lives of many children and families like mine."
We’re incredibly inspired by Javier, a parent of a youth in foster care from our Friends of the Children–Boston chapter. Javier’s son Jaylan* is 11 years old and was placed in foster care when he was just 4 years old.
Below is a message Javier delivered at Friends of the Children–Boston’s Friend Raiser:
My name is Javier, and I am the father of Jaylan*. He is 11 years old, and he’s just like all the boys his age. He loves video games, movies and spending time with his mentor, Andre. Jaylan has the best laugh, and he is a great kid. We have a good time together, and I am so proud of him.
I grew up in Roxbury, not far from the Friends–Boston office. Growing up, I didn’t always do the right things. But I knew that I had to turn my life around when I found out I was going to be a dad. Even though I was trying my best, things didn’t go our way. Jaylan’s mom struggled, and Jaylan was put in foster care when he was 4 years old.
They put him in so many different foster homes when he should have been home with me. For seven years, I showed up, did the right things, worked hard at my job, but I still could not convince them that I am capable of taking care of my son. I went to meetings and hearings, and judges would say my son should come home with me. But months would go by, and nothing happened.
They gave me one hour every week to see him, and I didn’t miss one visit. At one point, they moved him to Lowell, which is two hours away. I would take the bus, and then walk another 30 minutes from the bus station so we could be together. It would take me many hours to go back and forth just to spend one hour with him, but there was no way I would miss the chance to see Jaylan.
For the last seven years when I was fighting for my son, Friends–Boston was there for him. They worked with us when he moved from foster home to foster home. His mentors showed up every week to make sure that Jaylan had another adult who would be there no matter what.
Jaylan’s mentor, Andre, played an important role in supporting us last year. He came to my Department of Children and Families (DCF) meetings and court hearings. Andre helped the judge and DCF workers understand that I will do a good job, and he will be a partner to support Jaylan and I. I trust Andre to take care of my son and to be a friend to me.
Because of Andre’s help, Jaylan finally came home after seven years in foster care.
He is my son, and we are learning more about how to live with each other as a family. Things are not always easy. After so many years of being in foster care, Jaylan really struggles with his behaviors and being scared of a lot of things. I learn to sit with him, to comfort him, and to assure him that I will protect him. I will never let anything bad happen to him.
Being a single parent, I am taking care of my son, 24/7. When his mentor Andre comes to see Jaylan every week, it gives me time to breathe and catch up. Friends of the Children is like part of my family. They even took our first father-son family photos.
I want my son to know that I will always be there for him. There are people out there who don’t think single fathers take care of their children. That is not true. I do the right things every day because that is what Jaylan deserves. I want him to get good grades and get a good job. I know Andre and Friends will be there for us and make sure we succeed. Friends of the Children helps change the lives of many children and families like mine.
Friends of the Children believes every child in foster care deserves a Friend. We want to continue to support entire families impacted by foster care like Javier and Jaylan.
*Youth's name changed to protect their identity