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Bakersfield couple reflects on fostering dozens of children with special needs

Celebrating the end of Foster Care Awareness Month
Posted at 5:50 AM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 10:20:53-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — If anyone knows a thing or two about being foster parents, it’s Jessica and Timothy Swatzell.

"It was something we both always wanted to do," said Jessica.

”We both can’t have kids, so it was something we talked about," added Tim

The inability to have kids hasn’t stopped the Swatzells from building a family.

"We’ve been doing foster care for four years now and we wouldn’t change a single thing about it. We love it," said Jessica.

In July 2017, they brought home their first son.

“It was amazing," said Jessica. "The very first day we got Sawyer, we fell in love.”

Sawyer lacks an immune system and has autism. Jessica said fostering and eventually adopting him inspired them to help more kids with special needs.

“He just opened that door for us and it was basically something that fell in our lap, and we learned to have the biggest heart for that," she said.

The couple is currently fostering their 38th child and they’ve dealt with all sorts of conditions like epilepsy and down syndrome.

Tim said some people question fostering children with these kinds of needs but he and Jessica don’t see it that way.

"If it was our own child, if Jess gave birth to our own child, and he was blind or autistic or had no immune system, it would just be a no-brainer. It’s your child," said Tim.

They hope to adopt the child they’re currently fostering and then they want to focus on their five kids. Tim said giving them a chance to live a normal life is amazing.

“To see the kids smile, I mean the fact that I can’t have kids, Jessica can’t have kids, you know, just to have kids in our lives and see them play and interact with each other, just having the kids and letting them be children," he said.

Jessica highly encourages people to consider fostering in Kern County.

“We really wish that there was a lot more homes because there is such a need, especially homes that are willing to take children with special needs," she said.

Tim said it makes all the difference not just for the kids but the entire family.

“Anybody can be a foster parent and can help out and can turn someone’s life around and they turn your life around too," he said.

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