“They’re My Heartbeats.”
Darius is a Mentor foster parent who grew up in Dorchester, a Boston neighborhood, with a single mom. Now with two children adopted from foster care and a current foster son, Darius faces the same challenges as any single parent.
“It can be tough but just like any family, you get it done,” Darius says. “I get it done myself.”
Hard Work and Big Dreams
And Darius gets a lot done. He works hard to give his children the values and skills they’ll need to get far in life. With his support, discipline, and encouragement, his son Justin has gone from straight F’s to the honor roll. Now Justin is dreaming about the future with hopes of becoming a police officer, beating the odds with his father’s guidance and support.
Darius knows that education is the key, and he makes sure his kids are on track. He asks for proactive updates from teachers and even attended school all day once to keep a jokester teen focused. To help his children get the best education possible, Darius and his family planned to move to a larger home in Wellesley, Massachusetts, outside of Boston in June. Each child can have their own bedroom there and they will be able to attend Wellesley Public School. But it’s not all work and no play for this family.
“When you work harder, you play harder,” Darius says. Each Christmas the family visits Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania, and every year they hop on a plane to a tropical destination. This year, they fly off to Jamaica! He was also planning a unicorn-themed party for his 5-year-old daughter. (With Darius and two teenage boys in the house, Jy’leeanna has made clear she’s still the princess.)
Shared Parenting and Support
Children who used to be in Darius’s home in foster care still keep in touch, and he gives them his honest opinions as well as his support. And it’s not just the kids who look to Darius—the biological parents do, too.
“I tell them I’m not their foster parent, I’m their shared parent.” Darius works with the children’s parents and is there as a resource without judgement. They often call him after they have been reunified with their children for advice, and while the child is in care, Darius encourages the parents to stay connected whenever possible. As a surprise for one child’s birthday, Darius threw a party and invited the boy’s mother to attend.
For Darius, it’s all about the kids. Everything he does is for his children.
“Love is what these children need,” Darius says, “and love is what does everything that needs to be done, not me. I love my children. They’re my heartbeats.”