Megan Terlecky, News Channel 3 Anchor & Reporter, firstname.lastname@example.org
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -
We're learning more about one of three men accused of sex crimes as part of a child porn ring. John Yoder is a special-education aide and a foster and adoptive parent.
Foster parents who knew him say he's not representative of the foster parent community.
"We call ourselves family, all of the kids refer to each other as cousins and we do a lot of stuff together," said For the Children founder Silvia Signoret.
About 145 kids and close to 50 families make up For the Children, a nonprofit support group for both foster and adoptive parents.
"By being such a large group, we take care of each other and we keep an eye on each other too," said Signoret.
Yoder, who's awaiting trial on multiple charges of sex crimes against children, was a part of the group before he had any kids in his care.
"I knew him when he first started doing training," said Signoret.
Yoder is a licensed foster care provider but Signoret says he's only fostered the kids he adopted.
"You can never really be a straight adoptive parent because you foster for the first six months of a child anyway, so that's where he becomes a foster parent. He's been an adoptive parent more. He's never had kids in and out of their home," said Signoret.
A very different situation than that of Martha Medina who's fostered 150 kids over the last 14 years and adopted five.
"You have to have a heart with kids and the love and be able to make a difference in their lives, and that is why we all do what we do. There is a lot of great people out there," said Medina.
Yoder's membership didn't last long. He was asked to leave, but Signoret says there were no signs of any inappropriate behavior.
"His attitude, he was loudmouth, he was very arrogant. He just didn't fit in with the type of people we are," explains Signoret.
While it's the bad homes we often hear about the most, For the Children wants people to know about the good homes as well.
"Currently we have an 18-month-old little girl. We got her when she was only 3 months old," said foster parent Rocio Anzora.
Anzora became a foster parent two years ago.
"Just seeing so many kids needing a home and love, it's just something you feel you are called to do," said Anzora.
Signoret herself is a foster and adoptive mom: "I have two biological children. We've adopted seven children and are in the process of adopting our eighth."
She says you don't become one overnight.
"It's a pretty intense program, it's not as easy as people want to think it is. Background checks are local background checks, then you go through state background checks," said Signoret.
There's also required classes, and home visits that continue even after children get placed, and rules for how you can parent.
"If you have a foster child in your home, if you were ever to, say, raise your voice at your own kids, you can't do that. You can never spank you own children if you have foster children in your home," said Signoret.
These are all things Yoder should have been subjected to as an adoptive parent.
"It really hurts to get someone like that related to fostering because we are in desperate need of foster parents," said Signoret.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a foster parent or joining For the Children, click here.