Cynthia Patterson is one of our most inspiring and dedicated foster parents. She provides what most mothers do to their children and are celebrated for on Mother’s Day — love, shelter, care, and safety and has done so to almost over 100 children in the foster care system.
Cynthia was born in South Carolina and at the age of 7, her family – mother, three brothers, and four sisters – moved to Brooklyn. Her mother set an example of compassion and caring from a very early age. Cynthia and her sister would bring home friends who were living in unstable environments, and hide them under their beds – until their mother discovered them talking at night! Instead of chiding them, she simply made her home a safe haven for any and all childhood friends, and eventually nieces and nephews, who needed security, clean clothes, food, and rest. It is in this way that her mother came to be a foster parent with Little Flower and remained so for many years.
In 1992, when Cynthia was in her 30s, her mother encouraged her to become a foster parent too – Cynthia was already opening her home to her own son’s friends in the same way her mother had, out of kindness and an awareness of the need those friends had. Cynthia has been a foster parent with Little Flower now for twenty-five years and during that time she has provided shelter and guidance, love and comfort to nearly 100 children in the spirit of Msgr. Fagan’s vision. She never misses a visit, faithfully bringing children to all medical, mental health, court and other necessary appointments.
“It’s very painful when they go back home but I learned that that’s what happens and you have to let go.” Which is why her goal is always to help the child get back home and to support their parents to get themselves together. She encourages family visits and keeping parents informed of their successes and news, involving them in decision-making and ensuring they maintain a parental role in their children’s lives. For Cynthia, achieving the goal of returning a child to their family is very rewarding.
She has only warm and positive feelings and memories of Little Flower’s staff and what they all experience together. Director of foster care Madna Aubry attests that “she is more than just an asset to us; she is part of our tapestry – our history.”
In 2004, after deciding to take a break from fostering, she was pulled back almost immediately. She was introduced to three siblings who were in a particularly bad circumstance – they had been neglected, and were huddled in a little bundle like they had been taking care of themselves for a long time. She could not refuse them; took them home, bathed and clothed them, began the steady work of watching over and caring for them. At a court appearance one year later, their birth mother attested that she was in a bad way, and would relinquish her rights – but only if Cynthia herself would adopt them. Cynthia was so moved that she agreed, and just about 3 months later she adopted another child. All her children have flourished; as students and as working adults, they have always done her proud.
“I love being a foster parent. It’s a rough road but it is one I would take over and over again…I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world.”