ABC7 Pay It Forward: Adoptive mother of 3 foster children gets $500

DOWNEY, Calif.

Finding someone to Pay It Forward in a Downey parking lot wasn't working. A few people said no one came to mind. So, we headed inside the city's Stonewood mall. After an hour of trying there, we were running out of energy.

Finally, in the food court, we spotted Rose Cerda and her family.

"I know a lady who adopted three children," said the Norwalk resident. "She's now a stay-at-home mom and she's struggling."

Mane Acosta-Padilla and her husband, Luis Ernesto, always wanted to have children. After their wedding day, they tried for 13 years, but suffered multiple unsuccessful pregnancies.

The couple decided to adopt three children who started as their foster kids. First was Diego, then Paloma, and finally Emilio. All three of the beautiful babies were born with serious medical problems because all their mothers used drugs while pregnant.

"All different mothers, three different kids and they were all born addicted to drugs," Cerda said, "so it's been a real challenge for her to take care of each one of their needs and their development process."

The new mother's schedule has been packed full of medical appointments every day. Cerda wanted to give her the money so she can take some time for herself.

"It would mean a lot. I think she's paying back somehow for something she didn't need to," Cerda said.

And just like that, I placed $500 cash in Cerda's hand to Pay It Forward. She took us to Acosta-Padilla's Whittier home, where the mother wasn't quite expecting a TV camera at her door.

"Hi Mane, I have a surprise for you," Cerda told Acosta-Padilla, who was in disbelief. "I am here because I elected you to pay something forward because of all such a difference that you do with the children and I'm so proud of you. Channel 7 wants to give you $500."

"Oh my God, I can't believe you did that," Acosta-Padilla replied. "I'm just shocked. It's not like I'm doing something special or I'm trying to be an overly good person, it's just that I needed them and they needed me - and that's it."

Acosta-Padilla's said she's no angel. She's just like any other mother.

"There's a reason why I couldn't give birth to my own kids. At first, I didn't get it, but now I totally get it.," she said.

When her husband arrived home, he agreed.

"We do it out of our hearts," he said. "They're our kids. Whatever we can do, in our hands, why not?"

For Cerda, their story is personal. She and her siblings were also in the foster care system.

"The people who fostered us made a difference," she said, "and that's something I have always wanted to do. Even though I can't foster right now because my hands are full, I feel like this is my way of contributing somehow."

Cerda and the Acosta-Padillas hope this story inspires viewers to think about fostering or adopting.

"There are people that are afraid of thinking, 'Well, will I love this kid like they were my own?' Most definitely, this kid will be your kid, this baby will be your kid, and they need you," Acosta-Padilla said.

For resources on adopting foster children, visit

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