For her years of patience and kindness, Jackie Morton is The Arc’s recipient of its Excellence in Foster Care award.
Thirty is a magic number for Jackie Morton. It’s the years she has been a foster mom and the tally of children she welcomed into her home. Or maybe there were more; she loses count. “I don’t count them anymore,” she says. “All I do is open my home and my heart to a child when they need help.”
Her Windsor Mill home is a safety net, a respite from crisis, a place where every child is accepted as a family member. For all her life, family has been everything to Jackie. She was reared in the warm, loving, and sometimes chaotic atmosphere of nine siblings.
Jackie says The Arc social work staff is “incredibly supportive” and another family of sorts. Foster parents and the staff collaborate seamlessly because each child presents a special set of abilities and challenges. However, they share the need to be part of a loving environment—a family willing to provide a safe and nurturing home in which they can grow to reach their full potential. The time they stay is anywhere between a weekend and a complete childhood.
“They are all my kids. I don’t see a difference between them and the two I gave birth to. And they all will tell you that. When they introduce each other, or talk about each other, it’s always ‘Oh, that’s my little brother,’ or, ‘This is my big sister.’”
To Jackie, getting a hug, a kiss on the cheek, or even a surprise visit from a child who has grown up and was “just in the neighborhood,” are reminders. “You never really know just how important your role is until they come back and tell you what a difference you made in their lives,” she explains.
For information on The Arc foster parenting program, visit https://www.thearcbaltimore.org/programs/family-services/foster-care/.