Mohamed Bzeek is the only foster parent in the nation who takes in foster children nobody wants - those who are terminally ill. He moved from Libya to the US in 1978 and began fostering in 1989 with his wife Dawn, who died in 2015. Now he is doing the job of fostering alone. He is currently caring for a six-year-old girl who is paralyzed, deaf and blind. In addition, he cares for his 19-year-old disabled son, who has dwarfism and brittle bone disease. His son, who is studying computers in college, is fully aware of his foster siblings’ short life spans. His parents taught him to enjoy the time and happiness he has with them. In the years he has been fostering, Mr. Bzeek has comforted ten children as they died. He held every one of them in his arms and allowed them to pass away in a loving home environment, rather than a hospital.
A devout Muslim, Mr. Bzeek's selfless love and devotion gives the children he cares for comfort and peace. Today he is caring for a girl who was born with encephalocele, which left her mentally and physically underdeveloped. Parts of her brain protrude from a hole in her skull that had to be surgically removed. She is blind, deaf, paralyzed in her arms and legs and suffers seizures every day. She spends at least 22 hours of every day on feeding and breathing tubes. Doctors gave up hope on her when she was two-years-old. She is now six. Her pediatrician credits Mr. Bzeek for her living as long as she has, given her condition. Mr. Bzeek gives her lots of love and holds her to comfort her. He plays with her the best he can. He treats her like a human being, who has feelings and a soul.
In 1991, Mr. Bzeek experienced his first death. His foster daughter was affected in the womb by pesticides that her mother was exposed to as a farm worker. Her spine was so deformed that she had to wear a full body cast. She was only in his home for a year when she passed away.
Another child he cared for was a little boy that was born with short-gut syndrome and couldn’t eat. Even though his foster son couldn’t eat, Mr. Bzeek still set him up at the dining room table with a bowl and spoon so he would feel like part of the family. His foster son had 167 hospital admissions during his time with Mr. Bzeek, and died when he was eight-years-old.
As a long-time caretaker of a loved one, I can attest to the amount of time, energy, patience and love that goes into caring for a terminally ill person. But it takes a very special person to care for terminally ill foster children, who may have never known the love of family. Most foster parents work to better the lives of their foster children. Mr. Bzeek works to better the inevitable deaths of his. For these reasons and many more, I would like to nominate Mohamed Bzeek for your award.
These foster parents are amazing because their first case was two boys who came from a very serious human trafficking ring. The boys they took in were their very first placement. These boys were living in an underground world within a hotel room and never saw the outside world during daylight. The boys never went to school and actually had their own language of gibberish they would speak. I watched as the first time foster parents learned to parent to such unique children and help them heal from all the things they were exposed to. This family assisted these boys for about 3 1/2 years and helped them transition to an adoptive home.
The next case this family got were boy and girl siblings that had a lot of educational needs. I got to see this Foster family Advocate hard for these two kids at school for iep's and additional tutoring they needed. There were very rough times as these kids went through the process of tpr but roger and Joan stayed committed to the kids. They also filled the kids with the joys of family activities, outings, sports and much more. They are the busiest family I know!! Along the journey there were several adoptive homes that were being entertained to adopt the kids. I got to see this family advocate for the right family not the first family. They didn't advocate for the easiest route they advocated for the BEST scenario for these kids which by the way they committed to for about 4 years!!!! Although their voice wasn't the popular one they stood their ground for what they thought was right and best for the kids. At the end these kids found a family that would commit to all the things they wanted and needed. The icing on the cake is that now these amazing foster parents still support the adoptive parents and the kids by having dinner with the family and still attending the children extracurricular activities. There is so much more I could write about this family as they have stepped up to assist other families with respite when they needed a break and have volunteered their time for events, activities and non profits that assist children in foster care. This family is so deserving of this award although they will be the most modest and humble to accept it! They truly give from their hearts and it is just beautiful. I hope you will pick this most amazing family.
Tonya and Ben Smith are the BEST Foster Parents because they are all in for every kid that comes through their doors. They have fostered and done respite for many kids over the last few years and none of them have been easy. They've all come with special needs and unique circumstances and The Smiths always learn new ways to best handle any given need the children may have. And they don't just serve the children in care. Tonya has a passion for creating a relationship with the birth family (when its appropriate) and building that line of communication and helping to advocate for them, as well. The Smith's have biological children and both work full time---and yet, I am always amazed by their passion to serve the kids that need them. No matter what that looks like. When I think of the BEST Foster Family I know? ---No doubt, Tonya and Ben Smith. They give kids in care the best home and the most love and advocate for them as if they are "their own". I adopted their first placement and their love for my boy hasn't changed at all since he came into and left their home over 3 years ago. I am thankful every day for what they gave him and for the stability and love they give to all the children that have come through their home.
The Best Foster Parent in the United States Award
May is National Foster Care Month and is a time when foster parents are recognized and honored, and Transfiguring Adoption wants to do just that through our annual Best Foster Parent in the United States Award.
ABOUT THE AWARD
Hannah Eimers was a young lady who was passionate about orphans and foster children. Her passion was seen through her actions with her own adoptive siblings and her loving advocacy toward children who needed a home. Hannah was tragically killed at the early age of 17 in an automobile accident. Though her life has ended, her passion for helping children from traumatized backgrounds still inspires us and is the reason we will yearly award one parent as The Best Foster Parent in the U.S.
Nominate a foster parent using the form below. (Nominations will be accepted through June 2nd.)
Transfiguring Adoption will announce the finalists for the contest on June 5 via Facebook. (We will also contact you and the nominee’s agency via the contact information you provide.)
The public will be allowed to vote for the winner from June 6 – 23. (Note: Your written entry will be used for the public to see and vote on.)
The winner will be announced on July 1st via Facebook and our monthly E-newsletter.
(Transfiguring Adoption will mail the award to foster agency or nominator to deliver to winner)
Qualities We Would Like To Hear Examples Of:
No parent is perfect. A great foster parent accepts this, owns up to their mistakes and learns from them.
Advocacy for Child Many of us dislike conflict. Many of us have overbooked schedules. Great foster parents will do what it takes for the best interest of their foster child.
Parenting a child from a traumatic background is “different” from traditional parenting. A great foster parent is continually trying to learn more about how to help children coping with difficult pasts.
Along with the qualities of imperfection and a willingness to learn, a great foster parent is going to change how they parent in order to do the best for their child.
Creative – Think Outside the Box
A great foster parent has tricks up their sleeve. They have special games, activities, or bedtime books that “traditional” parents do not utilize to help their child(ren) to thrive.
SPECIAL THANKS FOR PRIZE DONATIONS:
Transfiguring Adoption is a program of Community Life Concepts – a 501(c)3 organization. This contest/award is only available for residents of the United States. This contest does not discriminate against person due to race, gender, religion, etc. The staff and volunteers of Community Life Concepts and Transfiguring Adoption reserve the right to disqualify a nomination/entry for any reason for which they see fit.