Bernie and Marvel Mayotte
Because many kids in foster care come from dysfunctional backgrounds-addiction, abuse, neglect, abandonment-behaviors such as bedwetting, hoarding food, and sleeping problems aren't uncommon. "Many have never sat at a table for dinner-it all has to be learned from the ground level," says Marvel, recalling one child who snatched a loaf of bread from the counter and ran off to eat it in hiding.
"We teach them the basic things. It's repetition, repetition, repetition," says Marvel. Bernie describes it as sharing "good people traits"-how to be polite, go out in public, and have a routine. "We have the time and can offer the consistency to do this," he says. Marvel attends the children's court hearings to better understand their family situations. Mostly, they see themselves as a "stepping-stone."
"We'd like to see families reunited and rehabilitated," says Bernie. If that's not possible, Marvel says, she's become "a great advocate" to make sure their foster kids are placed for adoption in a situation where they'll "excel, not just exist." Now they focus on taking in mostly babies-once they had two newborns-because Marvel says children have a much better chance at success if they receive the care they need at a young age.