Margaret Latta Murray is used to being surrounded by family.
As the sixth of 10 siblings, Margaret grew up on Staten Island playing with her brothers and sisters and caring for her nieces and nephews.
So when Sean, her son’s 10-month-old child, was placed in foster care eight years ago, Margaret stepped up to take care of him. She did the same for Gabriella, her granddaughter, who she picked up from the hospital the day she was born.
“They had nobody else in the family that was willing to take care of them,” she said. “I taught them how to walk and talk. My grandchildren are my world.”
Margaret, who has two sons, had experience as a kinship therapeutic foster parent for her nieces and nephews but she stopped fostering in 2003 to work full time.
“I was a foster parent and then I had closed the door,” she said. “I did what I needed to do with the children I had in my possession and got them safely where they needed to be.”
But in 2011, she once again opened the door when Sean needed a place to go after his mother was dealing with mental health issues. She did the same in 2017 for his sister Gabriella.
“That was very easy for me because I come from a huge family and there’s always children around,” she said.
Sean, 9, is in fourth grade and Gabriella, 3, is in pre-K. Both children are doing remote learning and while the school year has been difficult for the family, they have been able to safely quarantine at home.
“We got everything we need at home,” she said. “They go up and down in the yard, go in the pool. She’s starting to get a little bossy. He’s starting to feel like the big brother.”
Margaret credits Children’s Aid for supporting her family and making sure the adoption process went smoothly. Sean was officially adopted on Feb. 16, 2018 and Gabriella was adopted on Nov. 22, 2019.
“They were always there when I needed them,” she said. “I have wonderful social workers. They had a lot to offer. Everyone was always very pleasant and nice and making sure my grandchildren were safe and had everything they needed.”
November is National Adoption Month – a joyous time to celebrate families that have grown through adoption and raise awareness of the more than 125,000 children waiting in foster care in the United States. Sadly, the number of children still waiting for a safe, loving home is far too high.
Maritza Batista, an administrative supervisor, who has worked at Children’s Aid for 20 years says as a supervisor her job is to identify – with the help of others on the team – those children who have a chance for adoption.