“It’s hard for the children if we don’t step up. They’re voiceless.”
Armida Chow is an adult education teacher in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, and a foster adoption advocate in the Asian Foster Family Initiative. She and her husband Brandon have two children together through foster care adoption.
She and Brandon canceled their adoption application and got licensed to become foster parents by the Department of Children and Family Services. To date, the couple has happily welcomed five foster children into their home, all of whom were eventually reunified with their families.
In any given month, anywhere between 600 to 800 AAPI children, many from immigrant families, are in Los Angeles’ foster care system.
Though they form a small percentage of the total number of children in the system, they still outnumber the few dozen qualified Asian foster families that speak the child’s native language and are available to provide temporary homes. For a child, being placed in a foster home with an unfamiliar culture, whether it’s food, values or expectations, can be extremely difficult.
Armida later discovered the Asian Foster Family Initiative at Korean American Family Services, a community organization based in Koreatown. The initiative works to raise awareness, provide training and ultimately recruit families for foster and adoptive care. Equipped with experience and passion, Armida joined as a foster adoption advocate, supporting the program as an informational resource for other Asian families interested in fostering or adopting children.
The role allows Armida to address concerns that prospective families may have about fostering. For one, some fear becoming attached to a foster child. Though no one wants to prevent a child from being reunified with their family, the reality of fostering can be harsh — after all, while the child is in a foster home, the foster parent invests physically, mentally and emotionally. She encourages would-be foster parents to be undeterred and think of the children first. The trauma AAPI foster children experience when placed in a non-Asian home, or when they have to jump from home to home, can be especially damaging.
Armida feels a profound sense of responsibility in her role as a foster parent. “It’s hard for the children if we don’t step up,” she said. “They’re voiceless. There are children in the foster care system who are younger than 1 year old. Who will be their voice?”
Armida and Brandon have adopted two children of their own, giving forever homes to their son Cooper and their daughter Delaney, who were both safely surrendered by their birth mothers as infants. Looking at the Chow family, one can see what a true modern multicultural family looks like: Armida is Filipino American, her husband Brandon is Chinese German, her son Cooper is white, and her daughter Delaney is Latinx. At the moment, the couple are taking a break from fostering to focus on raising their two children.
Armida works hard to make sure that they are surrounded by role models who look like them, spending time with in-laws who are white or friends who are Latinx. Having adoptive children from different cultural backgrounds has taught Armida to be intentional in her parenting. The family attends a church that supports adoption so that Cooper and Delaney aren’t known as “the adopted kids” and that they have peers with whom they can talk about their adoption stories. It’s also taught her to have a sense of humor. “My husband and I are introverted and shy, and we got placed with kids who are outgoing and outspoken,” she laughed. “That’s the beauty of foster adoption. It’s just another way to have a family.”