The need for foster care families on the rise in Las Cruces
There’s a growing need for more foster parents in Las Cruces.
New Mexico’s Children Youth and Families Department report there are over 160 children in the foster care system in Las Cruces that have been deemed by a judge to have been abused or neglected.
That’s why Joey Valenzuela decided to look into becoming a foster parent which resulted in a very special bond.
“I vividly remember him playing soccer,” Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela recalls the first time he ever met his adopted son, Jacob Valenzuela.
He surprised him on the soccer field when Jacob was just 10.
“I walked up to him, we were playing soccer, and was like, this guys’ gonna adopt me? What? and then after that I was kinda like… Yes! It was awesome,” Jacob said.
Jacob had been separated from his 10 siblings and placed in the foster care system until the day he met Valenzuela.
“He never gave up on me. Every time I’d give up and kind of pout, he’d be like ‘look up at me, you could do better than this',” Jacob said.
Jacob, now 17, enjoys science and is on his high school basketball team.
“He just kinda came here and said ‘I love you, I care for you I want you to do better.’ And I was like… I love you too, dad,” Jacob said.
After the first time Jacob referred to Valenzuela as his father, he officially adopted Jacob and gave him his last name.
“He’s become a responsible young man he has an outlook on life, he wants to do great things, he wants to be a great basketball player,” Valenzuela said.
Joey has since opened his home to another foster child.
“You give them the faith to know that things are gonna be OK. You give them the chance to hope that they’ll have a better life. And of course you give them love and that love is that foundation for everything,” Valenzuela said.
“Us kids, we need people that go out and help us and tell us they love us and that they want to help and that they do anything for us because we’re just like family,” Jacob said.
CYD said they are having a difficult time finding families to foster teenagers and children who come from larger families like Jacob.
If you’d like information in becoming a foster care parent, you can visit pulltogether.org