On an average day in Colorado, 14 children or teens enter the foster care system, according to the Colorado Department of Human Services. The need for foster parents is constant, and there are currently more children in need of a foster home than there are homes available.
It was that need that drove Carla and John Londo to take in a foster child 24 years ago, and they haven’t looked back since.
“I worked at a foster care agency and they came in and said ‘we need a home for this teenage girl,’ and went ‘Hmmm, sure,'” Carla said.
The couple never planned on becoming foster parents, but 52 foster children later, it’s hard to deny it.
“We ended up adopting 11 of them,” Carla said.
“I think I woke up one day and there was 12 kids in the house and that’s just kind of the way it went,” John said. “It wasn’t like we planned it or anything. It just happened. Life is funny that way, isn’t it?”
“We had kids and we were raising kids so we thought, ‘let’s continue raising kids,'” Carla said.
With three biological children of their own, the Londo house was always full of activity.
“We like to have fun,” John said. “We’ve always done crazy stuff. We’ll turn all the lights off in the house at night and play hide and seek.”
The Londos said the key to success is consistency, but they admit it hasn’t been all fun and games.
“There’s still this mom and dad out there, and so learning how to navigate all that and navigate schools and navigate doctors and people’s impressions of foster kids,” Carla said. “We’ve gotten three anonymous letters asking us to move.”
Still, the Londos continue to open their home and their hearts to those in need.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve been in the principal’s office, fighting for my kids,” John said. “You just gotta be there for them and love them.”
“I got an email from our agency saying there is 152 kids that they couldn’t place last week alone because there’s no homes,” Carla said. “So how do you say no to that?”
According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, there are currently about 800 children and teens across the state living in group homes or residential treatment centers who are ready to live with a foster family, but there aren’t any available. In El Paso County alone, there are about 100 children waiting for a foster home.
“If you feel like you’re being pulled into doing foster care, it’s kind of hard to say no,” John said. “If you feel like you’re being pulled to do that, give it a try. You might like, it might work out for you, and if it doesn’t, you haven’t lost anything.”