Foster parents share their experience going through the foster system

Inside the Possa home, you’ll find a unique family portrait.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 7:53 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Inside the Possa home, you’ll find a unique family portrait. It shows dads Chad and Joe holding their son and daughter, but instead of smiles the faces in the watercolor painting are blank. For more than two and a half years, that was the Possa family: anonymous and living under the shadow that it could all end at a moment’s notice.

Joe and Chad Possa are foster parents. In 2019, they went through the extensive vetting, training, and certification the state requires for families to take in kids in need. It was nearly a year before the couple was called to help a child in need.

”We were called out of the blue,” recalled Chad. “The DCFS worker said that they had a 3-month-old little girl that had some life-threatening injuries that she was getting over from and they needed a medical professional to help with her needs and asked if we could take her in.”

A baby girl had come into the Department of Children and Family Services’ care after her parents were arrested and accused of beating her. Police records show she had broken bones all over her body. Some of the injuries were weeks old with life-threatening infections. Because Chad is a registered nurse, he was uniquely qualified to care for the medically fragile baby until the courts decided her future.

”The condition she came in she pretty much needed 24/7 supervision. Eyes on her all the time,” said Joe.

About four months later, the couple got another request to shelter a child. This time, it was a baby boy who police say was nearly beaten to death by his parents. The boy was just six days younger than the little girl. The Possas later learned the two children had been hospitalized around the same time.

”When he was admitted to Children’s Hospital, he wasn’t expected to make it through the night. Homicide detectives had already been called,” said Joe.

The boy had suffered a traumatic brain injury. So, once again, Chad’s nursing skills were needed. In addition to helping the kids heal physically, the Possas were now responsible for navigating the children through the complex foster system alongside their social workers.

According to data from the DCFS, there are currently 408 children in the Baton Rouge region in foster care, but only 152 foster homes. Most of those homes are full, and that includes people that are certified to provide care for relatives. Look at the statewide picture, and there are nearly 3,580 children in foster care with less than 1,660 foster homes to place them in. Of those homes, more than 150 are unavailable due to reasons like capacity or adoption processing.

The first goal of the foster system is to reunite children with their family and stays in foster homes are meant to be temporary. However, if reunification is not possible for a variety of reasons a pathway to adoption opens for the children.

A DCFS spokesperson also said there is a particular need for foster caregivers who can take in specific groups like teens, siblings, and children with medical needs.

In the cases of the babies in the care of the Possas, both children required multiple therapies and medical appointments on top of the expected court appearances and social worker visits. The couple says DCFS and their case workers provided everything to make sure the kids had what they needed to recover from their injuries and thrive.

However, the children’s futures remained unsettled. For both children, the criminal cases against the parents delayed progression in their DCFS cases. Joe, an attorney, says that was the most frustrating part of the process.

“The parents were looking out for their [own] best interests and the best plea they could get and that’s what really dragged the process out,” said Joe.

“At the end of the day, it wasn’t fair to the children that they were stuck in a situation where their lives, they didn’t know what was going to happen to them,” said Chad.

After more than two years of court proceedings, both sets of parents reached a plea deal that resulted in them relinquishing their parental rights, something that could have been done voluntarily at any point in the process.

The moment Chad and Joe realized reunification was not possible, the couple started the process of adopting their foster children who were now two years old.

“Pretty much at that point, we realized these children don’t belong anywhere else. They’re going to be here. They know no other place,” said Joe.

In April, they finalized the adoption of their daughter, who they named Adriana. Their son, now Asher, followed in September. They were no longer an anonymous, temporary shelter, but a permanent family of four. “At the end of the day you realize that these children will be yours for the rest of their life and you’re here to take care of them,” said Chad.

“I think they knew it too,” added Joe. The Possas says the process was tough at times. It involved long court appointments and facing the children’s families who they say were openly hostile at times. However, they also say it was all worth it. Both children are thriving and have met every milestone with few lingering effects of their injuries. They describe Adriana as the boss of the family, and Asher as quick to smile and laugh.

In the wake of several high-profile cases involving children falling through the cracks, even dying, on DCFS’s watch, the Possas say they saw firsthand how overworked and underappreciated social workers are. Over two and a half years, they had four different workers handle their cases. However, the couple says pointing fingers isn’t the solution. Instead, they believe it’s helping where you can, including fostering if you are able.

“Open your heart, open your home. Let’s help these families,” said Chad.

If you are interested in becoming a foster family, you can find more information on starting that process at

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