FROM FOSTER CARE TO ADOPTION… TO A FORCE FOR GOOD

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She always knew she wanted to be a mother. Yvonne Swinth had built a successful career as pediatric occupational therapist, caring for other people’s children, and she was ready to care for her own. “I hit that point – I was single, heading my 40s, and I still wanted to be a mom. So I started looking into adoption. I decided to go the foster-to-adopt route,” said Yvonne. More than 10 years later, she is so grateful for the two beautiful daughters that have come into her life. She’s also humbled by the opportunity to give back. This December, she and her older daughter, Reagan, have joined with Origami Owl to deliver a special Force For Good surprise to moms in the foster and adoption community.

THE FAMILY GROWS

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Yvonne shared the story of how her family came to be, saying, “Reagan was one of the first foster babies placed in my care. She was almost two when we were on a family trip to Disneyland. While at the park, I got the call that I was going to be able to adopt her. Disney has always had a special place in our hearts ever since.”

Next came Rebekah, whom Yvonne fostered until she was able to adopt her at two years old. Reagan and Rebekah are the light of Yvonne’s life – bright, talented girls who excel in everything from school to Irish dancing (Reagan) and gymnastics (Rebekah). Oh, and Reagan’s also a thriving entrepreneur.

When Reagan was almost 11 years old, she discovered Origami Owl® and decided right then that she wanted to become an Owlette (Origami Owl’s program that empowers youth ages 12 to 17 to own their own Origami Owl business with a Designer parent). After her twelfth birthday, she convinced Yvonne to sign them up, and Reagan’s been building her business ever since.

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“I am so thankful for this whole Owlette program,” said Yvonne. “The opportunities it’s giving Reagan, watching her really grow up, having to call somebody to see if they would do a party. I’ve been really proud of her. She’s done a lot of things that have been really challenging, and she’s really stuck to it. It was also fun to accompany her to her first Origami Owl convention at Disney World – and so fitting, since Disney is where we first found out we’d be adopting her!”

PAYING IT FORWARD

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Reagan has been excited to combine her love for Origami Owl and the foster and adoption community that her family has been a part of over the years. She’s watched her mom, Yvonne, continue to provide respite care for other foster kids, and Yvonne has also volunteered her expertise as an occupational therapist to kids in need. Reagan wanted to find a way to give back, as well, so she recently helped some of the foster moms within their local agency put together Living Lockets celebrating their families.

Yvonne said, “One of the moms she worked with in particular – Reagan helped her put together a locket with charms that represented her biological child, the foster children she adopted, and the foster children she didn’t get to keep. It was fun watching Reagan work with her, helping her decide which charms would represent each child. It meant so much to this mom to have something that symbolized her love for all of her kids.”

Those kinds of experiences sparked an idea for Yvonne and Reagan – what if they could bring that type of joy to even more foster moms? “Every December, our local agency, Olive Crest, collaborates with several other organizations to do a huge Christmas party for all the local foster kids, the children adopted out of the foster system, and any biological siblings. Reagan and I wanted to find a way to recognize the moms at this year’s event, as well. Some foster moms have had as many as 20 to 30 foster kids in their care. A lot of times they’re the unsung heroes,” said Yvonne.

Yvonne and Reagan reached out to Origami Owl, and we’re proud to be joining them in providing more than 150 Living Lockets. It’s our way of honoring their effort in offering love, care and comfort to countless children. And it’s also our way of celebrating exemplary Owlettes like Reagan, who are finding ways to be a Force For Good.

For information on Olive Crest, visit olivecrest.org.

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