VISTA, Calif. — May is Foster Care Awareness month and more resource families are needed to place children in caring homes.
In this Zevely Zone, I visited a family in Vista that opened their hearts and home to two children in need. Johnny and Judith Arguello always wanted a family with five children. The husband and wife started off with two biological children, Mariano, 18, and Judith, 17.
In 2016, the Arguellos became a resource family for a non-profit organization called Toward Maximum Independence. TMI places children with disabilities with foster families.
"Me and my brother and have always known that they always wanted to adopt a third child, it's always been like that," said the siblings Mariano and Judith.
"Akilah is my baby girl," said Johnny. "We found Akilah. We fell in love."
In 2016, News 8's Marcella Lee profiled Akilah.
"Her giggles are infectious, her sweet smile melts your heart," said Marcella in her report. It wasn't right away, but the Arguellos believe fate led Akilah, 10, to their home where they adopted her, and they didn't stop there. Next, the family fostered and adopted Lily, 14.
"As soon as she came in the house, we loved her. She fit right in, it was meant to be," said Judith and Mariano.
"This family is an open family with infinite love to give," said Paola Osuna, the director of family support services at Toward Maximum Independence. Paola told us there are children in need waiting for a caring home.
"What we are looking for is a family that is able to open up their home and provide a caring loving stable home that's all that we need," said Paola.
As a foster youth, Lily was placed with the Arguello family on January 18, 2018. Shortly after Lily moved into their new home, her health turned around for the better. Juan and Judith strongly advocated for Lily to obtain all the medical and therapeutic services she needed, as well as get all the educational services she deserves. She steadily grew stronger and stronger with each day and has absolutely thrived under their care.
Awarded TMI Outstanding Resource Family for the 2018/2019 fiscal year, Johnny and Judith have gone above and beyond to enrich Lily and Akilah's lives. You may recall Judith and Johnny always dreamed of a family with five children.
"Yeah, and I am still waiting for one more," said Johnny.
They plan on fostering and adopting a baby boy.
"Oh, my god," laughed Judith Sr., who told us if God tells the family to foster and adopt another child then they will do just that.
"Because we love them. Look at them, they are angels," said Johnny with tears in his eyes.
Lily's world has greatly opened up since moving in with the Arguellos. They have visited Mammoth, Santa Barbara, museums, parks, beaches, and have gone on many family outings. The family is from Costa Rica and have extended family there. As soon as the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, they plan to take a family vacation to Costa Rica so that the entire family can meet Lily.
TMI strives to find Resource Families for foster youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are unable to remain with their family of origin. The organization has youth waiting for a caring home.
Some placements are temporary, while others could lead to adoption and family for life. Toward Maximum Independence is celebrating 40 years of service. The non-profit organization is hosting Zoom meetings on June 3, 10 and 17, for anyone interested in becoming a new resource parent.
If you are interested in becoming a TMI Resource Family, please click here.
WATCH: 12-year-old Monserrath is thankful for her foster families