Bernie and Marvel Mayotte
and will keep her until she's adopted-which could be as soon as this summer.
The Mayottes, who've fostered about twenty children over the past ten years, also are caring for a teenage boy. The boy is fighting cancer and is currently hospitalized. A "Parent" badge is pinned to Bernie's shirt, and he's about to leave for a visit. "I'll sit with him," Bernie says. "Just so he knows he's not alone."
The couple never thought about foster parenting until one of their daughters was struggling and they took in their six-year-old granddaughter; she ended up living with them until she turned eighteen. So that the child could qualify for certain benefits, they completed classes and became certified through Michigan's Department of Human Services (DHS). About a decade ago, they began taking in other kids. "We saw the need," says Bernie, who's been retired from his residential contracting business for fifteen years. "I don't want to play golf. We want to do this."
But it hasn't always been easy. Their first foster child-a six-year-old girl-hit Marvel hard enough to leave bruises, and the girl barely slept because she'd never had a bedtime routine. Soon they relinquished her. "I cried and cried," Marvel says. "I felt like such a failure. But she had such deep-seated things she was dealing with. She needed an expert."