Children's Shelter reports 25 percent increase in kinship cases

Paternal aunt fosters then adopts brother's four children

SAN ANTONIO – The state’s critical shortage of foster parents, coupled with an increase in neglect cases, has resulted in a 25 percent increase in kinship cases at the Children’s Shelter of San Antonio.

Anais Miracle, the Children’s Shelter of San Antonio spokeswoman, said the shelter is seeing more people willing to foster and adopt children within their own families. She said it can be overwhelming to make that kind of major transition in their lives, so the shelter offers them an array of services.

Miracle said programs such as iParentSA can make all the difference.

“So they don’t collapse, we want to make sure that they stay in that family unit, so that it’s a coherent family, a stable family and a safe and loving family for the children,” Miracle said.

“They have support groups. Their training classes are great. I’ve learned a lot,” said Maria Ahedo, who went from having no biological children of her own to adopting her late brother’s four children, ages 9 to 15.

Ahedo said her mother suffered from substance abuse and before her brother’s death almost 10 years ago, her brother pleaded with her to take his children, but she was taking care of her disabled mother at the time.

Two years ago, the phone call that changed Ahedo’s life came from Child Protective Services.

“If I didn’t pick them up, they were going to a shelter. I rushed over there,” she said.

After gathering up a few of the children’s belongings, they drove off in Ahedo’s car, but the going was rough initially.

“They didn’t know who their parent was, who the adult was. They argued a lot, a lot of screaming,” Ahedo said.

Eventually, their new lives as a family began to emerge.

“Everything that we were going through, stopped,” said Angela Ahedo, 15.

Angela, her two younger brothers and little sister came to understand that their aunt took them in with open arms.

“She’s the best. She’s very loving and she supports us a lot,” Angela said.

Maria Ahedo said, “Angela told me, ‘Thank you for saving us.’”

“I told her in return, ‘Thank you for saving me, because I didn’t have a life before them,” Maria said.

Last October, Maria’s brother’s dying wish was fulfilled. She took his children to his grave site at San Jose Cemetery.

“We went to the cemetery to tell him, ‘OK, brother, I’ve adopted them. They’re safe now. I’m going to take care of them as my own,” Maria said.