Los Angeles County needs dedicated foster parents


Suzy Campeau and her husband became foster parents to 2-year-old Bella when she was just 2 days old, born with drugs in her system.

"No matter how hectic the day is, no matter how bad the traffic is, no matter what I've gone through, I come through that back door, and I hear 'Mommy,' and it's like my whole world is perfect again," said Campeau. "I don't think I've had a bad day since she came into my life."

Right after the Campeaus adopted Bella, her biological mother had another baby, who the Campeaus also fostered.

"We took him in and he was with us for seven weeks, and then the paternal grandparents decided that they wanted an opportunity to take care of him," said Campeau.

The Campeaus still visit him, and while Bella is thriving, thousands of other children aren't so lucky.

L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services Director Philip Browning says the system is flooded with children who need homes, especially after media coverage of the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, who was allegedly tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend, even while they were under investigation for child abuse by DCFS.

"That's caused individuals to call our hotline more, we've responded, we've detained more children, but the capacity has really diminished in terms of the foster care parents," said Browning. "We've just lost 3,000 of them over the past five years."

Campeau admits the possibility of losing a child is difficult, but says the life-changing experience is worth it.

"That connection that we made will go on forever, so I think even though it was extremely emotional -- because if not, you're not a human being -- who knows where that baby would have spent those seven weeks if he wasn't with us.

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