Building Strong Units of Love, Devotion, Friendship and Support

Building Strong Units of Love, Devotion, Friendship and Support

By Donna Michele Ramos

“Resource families,” provide love, parenting, stability and guidance to children who have been removed from their homes, until they can be reunited with their parents or moved to a permanent home, through adoption or guardianship to foster children.  In the Sacramento area, there is an ongoing need to find and maintain resource families who can support foster children and their families. Homes are also needed for sibling sets, teenagers and children with medical needs. Most people may not be aware that, The Sacramento County Resource Family Approval (RFA) program supports, trains and offers guidance to resource families. Leon Burse and his wife Dykiesha answered the call and have welcomed children into their home.

THE HUB: How long did you contemplate adoption before inquiring about the process?
Burse: I didn’t contemplate much.  I knew in the future I wanted to adopt; a youth seeked us out – me and my wife just took it.  We wanted to help LGBTQ and African American children; that’s where our contemplation came in.

THE HUB: Did you have any fears or reservations about adoption? And if so, what helped you overcome those fears?
Burse: Yes, a lot, mostly from not feeling we had enough love to share.  We were thinking we wouldn’t be enough for the kids.  The kids helped us; they’d come home every day saying they loved us and missed us.

THE HUB: How many children do you and your wife have?
Burse: We adopted our two oldest, a son who is 8 ½ years old and a daughter who is 10 and they’ve been with us since January 2016. Our youngest is our biological child and is 2 ½ years old.

THE HUB: What was the adoption process like for your two children?
Burse: The process was chaotic in some ways also testing things as well.  Since our home was a concurrent home, that’s a home that fosters children but can also adopt them later.  We did 12 months of reunification and we were very supportive of that.  After that, we went through the appeal process.  It took a toll on us but it was going to be win-win for the kids either way. 

THE HUB: What are your favorite things about being a parent?
Burse: A lot but one of the biggest is watching them grow, coming from the background they had, watching them flourish into the beautiful, healthy kids they are today.  I cherish being able to put my small imprint on them.

THE HUB: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make once you became a parent?
Burse: In terms of the fostering aspect, being adaptable to changes in schedule and meeting deadlines on doctor’s visits, etc.  After becoming parents, we could not just get up and go we had to think of these two little people first.

THE HUB: What would you advise for anyone thinking about adoption?
Burse: Being flexible because things are forever changing.  It’s an endless rollercoaster of uncertainty until things are actually certain.  Be flexible and keep the child’s best interest in mind.

THE HUB: Last November, you and your family were named Family of the Year for the National Adoption Day event at the State Capitol, what did this mean to your family?
Burse: We were very honored and humbled.  The kids were on cloud 9 because we went through a year of appeals.  Also, being recognized that day that we are a family.  For me and my wife we didn’t do it to be recognized, we did it to become a family.

THE HUB: Recently, you began working for Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services, what is your educational background, title and what do you do in your current position?
Burse: I have a Bachelors, in Social Work.  My intention is to get my Masters.  My current position is Concurrent Planning Social Worker.  Now I’m working with our RFA (Resource Family Approval) families inquiring about their parameters they set up for the kids they want to care for.  Getting to know families apart from their paperwork along with getting to know what they can handle, trying to match off of that, giving youth two tracks to follow: reunification or staying in their concurrent home, to limit a lot of the moves they have to do.

THE HUB: How do you help families who are going through the adoption/guardianship process?
Burse: Handholding on my lived experience, processing what it will be like and how we can move past the fearful part they are in.

THE HUB: What are your top three favorite things about your job?
Burse: Shedding light on other kids that need homes, because lots of families want babies 0-5 years old.  I enjoy the overall education.  I am able to provide to families and connect with them rather than be just another social worker coming to their home.

THE HUB: If someone is thinking about adoption/fostering, what services does the County have to offer, that helps if they aren’t quite sure?
Burse: Families can attend orientation, where they are given a wide overview of what to expect.  I’m more than willing to meet with families.  We really need families; RFA offers mentoring if families want it, they can call 916-875-5543. Below are links to the Sacramento County resource family info.

Become a Resource Family for Local Foster Children
RFA Orientation Scheduled for 2019
Steps to Becoming a Resource Parent

THE HUB: Is there anything you’d like to add that we have not covered?
Burse: We need to have more of the African American community step forward and take our African American children in their care.  My kids said, “You’re my first foster family that looks like me.”  Makes us think about how our life’s going.