By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
Kimberly Carty didn’t think opening her home to children in need would turn her into a full-time mother of two toddlers. But that is what happened to this Boca COO.
In 2011, Carty said she began thinking about becoming a foster parent after hearing a presentation from an agency at her church. But as a single person, she said she wasn’t even sure that would be allowed.
“I thought I could provide a nice home,” she said. “I love kids. I had not had the opportunity to become a parent myself.”
Her friends and family warned her that if she fostered a child she may get her heart broken when their time to reunite with family occurred, but she said she started pursing the necessary classes to be able to become a foster parent.
Initially, she wanted to help school aged children because she is a busy executive. But when she learned about the day care requirements, she said she would help children from six weeks until four years of age.
When she was approved to begin fostering, she said she would agree to take one child into her home. But when the phone rang and the agency said they had two sisters who were in a shelter and they didn’t want to separate them, she said she didn’t want to be the reason they were separated.
The girls were 4 and 9 months old. As she tucked them into bed that first night, she said she remembers a conversation she had with the older sister. She asked Carty if she was a mom and Carty said she replied, “Well, I am today.”
The girl asked if that was because of her and her sister and informs Carty they have a mother.
Ladd told the girl that she knows they have a mother who loves them very much but can’t take care of them at the moment. Satisfied with the response, she asked what she should call Carty. After saying some nicknames, Kim, Kimmy, the girl settled on Momma Kimmy.
“I have been Momma Kimmy ever since,” Carty said.
She said the sisters stayed with her for six months before they were reunited with their mother. A week later, her phone rang. The agency had a baby who needed a home. Carty cared for her for a month before she went to live with grandmother.
Becoming a new mom left Carty with little time for herself so after she dropped off the baby she went for a pedicure. Before she could even begin, the agency called and said they had a 4-year-old who needed a home.
After the much-needed pedicure she said yes and said she would stick to one child for a while. That was until the agency called and said a family needed a respite and would she help them with their 18-month-old foster child for a weekend. She agreed to the weekend before she decided to say yes and help with the remainder of her stay.
The two girls became best friends and stayed for several months. One reunified with their father.
At the time, it was the end of the year and Carty said she was going to take time and visit family. She would help another child after the New Year.
But her phone rang again and the agency said on the children she was fostering had a sister who just born and would she help with the sister. Again not wanting to separate siblings, she agreed to take in the baby.
“Having never been a parent, I didn’t think I would ever have the experience of leaving the hospital with a baby and being wheeled out in a wheel chair,” she said.
But when she arrived to pick up the baby, the hospital staff wheeled her out with the baby, per protocol.
On Christmas Eve, 2014 she finalized the adoption of the baby she named Ellie. She said Ellie means bright light shine star and that is a fitting name for her Christmas present. The father of her half-sister agreed the siblings should have a relationship so the half sisters see each other, Carty said.
A few months later, she said she opened her home once more to a three-month-old who still weighed her birth weight. This past summer, she adopted Ariell.
“It has been an awesome journey,” she said. “I didn’t get into this to adopt children. I got into this to love children.”
Currently, she said she isn’t fostering any children. But that is because her house doesn’t have room for another child.
“It’s my passion to foster children,” she said. “The amount of children who need help didn’t go away because I adopted two of them.”
She said fostering is challenging and can be emotional, but that shouldn’t prevent people from fostering children.
“There are times when it hurts and you’re hurt,” she said. “But when you are able to stop thinking of yourself and start about thinking about the children. I have been far more blessed than I have sacrificed on this journey.”
Executive Director of ChildNet Palm Beach County Larry Rein said Palm Beach County had the fewest amount of foster homes in the state a few years ago. When ChildNet began helping oversee all things foster care related in the county in 2012, they worked to increase the number of foster homes and have seen a large increase, he said.
“We always need more foster parents,” he said.
Currently, he said there is a major need for foster parents to help with children over the age of 12.
To become a foster parent, you can be single, you don’t need parenting experience and your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. You just have to pass a background check, home inspection and become licensed.
“Fostering is one of the greatest contributions you can make to your community,” he said.
For more information on fostering, contact ChildNet 561-414-6001 or visit.
By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor