Her kids call Ms. Allen, “Aunty Mary.” She has adopted four and fostered more than 30 children through the years, including two teen girls who were reunited with their father.
Ms. Allen works side by side with birth parents – but always on the kids’ side – doing what is in their best interest. Yet, even after reunification, the connection with Aunty Mary does not stop.
“I’m here for all my kids,” Ms. Allen said. “They are always in my life.”
Aunty Mary provided foster care and then helped reunify two teenage girls with their single father. She helped the girls understand the complicated family dynamics. After the girls were reunified with their dad, Ms. Allen permitted the girls to stay with her during the week to attend their school. Her support to this family after the reunification helped to sustain the family unit.
At Aunty Mary’s home, the kids get lots of love – and are taught responsibilities, including chores. Upon completing their chores, they receive an allowance. The child’s most important responsibility in her home is school.
“Education is Priority #1,” Ms. Allen said. “Homework is not optional.” Ms. Allen goes to her kids’ schools and talks to each of their teachers. Teachers very much appreciate her active presence. Her kids also appreciate her involvement.
Knowledge is key, Ms. Allen said. What children learn in school is what they need to move forward in life. What children need to learn in the home, she adds, is they are loved – just for being who they are.
Even though the girls have been reunified with their family, they continue to feel the love Aunty Mary gives to them. Today the girls often call her and ask if they can come by for a sleep-over. They continue to receive gifts on their birthdays and they are in contact by phone frequently.