There’s a painting in the Sinquimani kitchen that sums up the family’s approach to fostering. Leaves on a hand-painted family tree are made from colorful thumbprints with the names of parents Candi and Cesar, their seven-year-old daughter Isabella, and each of the infants and toddlers they have fostered through Angels. There’s a tiny orange thumbprint and a little green one from their first placement, a sister and brother who lived with them for a month. Surrounding the tree are the words: “Family – Even for a short time.” Soon the Sinquimanis will add two more thumbprints to the tree.
With the family currently is a cherubic toddler sibling set, a girl and boy who are one year apart in age. They are on the move constantly, handing Cesar milk cups and toys as they whiz by. He doesn’t miss a beat as he cares for the children, assembles a basketball net, and chats with Candi about why they love fostering. “When you come home from work and the kids reach out for a hug, there’s nothing better than that feeling,” he says. “It’s everything.”
Candi explains that she and Cesar first considered adoption as a way to grow their family, but learned that there were many children who needed foster care. “We realized that we could impact the rest of a child’s life even if they are with you for a while,” she says. “Someone has to do this and if we don’t, who will step up for these kids?” She laughs, adding, “We are the last family that has time for this – we both work – but we still make it work.”
Candi adds that the couple chose Angels Foster Family Network because she and Cesar appreciate the agency’s commitment to creating a stable environment for young children. “There’s no passing around kids from house to house,” she says. When foster parents agree to fostering with Angels, it’s for the entire duration of a child’s stay in foster care. That may be a few days or it could be several years. “That can be intimidating at first, but you know it’s in the best interests of the children,” she says. “And Angels supports you throughout.”
While the couple is equally committed to fostering, Cesar knows what it’s like to be a child who needed someone to step up and care for him. At four years old, he and his five siblings went to live with his grandparents after his parents were not able to care for them. “Because of them, we didn’t have to go into foster care,” he says. “It was chaotic and happy.”
The challenge with fostering has been the unpredictability. “It’s hard not knowing what’s going to happen,” Cesar explains, adding that he and Candi make it clear to Isabella that the children are staying with them until they are ready to reunify with their families. On reunification day, tears are shed, but Isabella is always the first to ask when they will foster another child. In fact, the idea for the family tree painting was hers. Candi smiles and says, “She told us she wanted to make sure we always remember them.”