By Dawn M. Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–Father’s Day has come and gone. But for more than 100 children in Iron County there is a year-round need for ‘Foster Dads’ who can offer a caring and safe home, said Amy Bates, Utah Foster Care consultant and advisor. It was that kind of community need that prompted Billy Marquardt and his wife, Cindy, to become part of the Utah Foster Care program in 2017.
And in 2018, to adopt three more siblings who needed a permanent home.
Marquardt was recently named the Southwestern Regional Foster Dad of the Year through a nomination process sponsored by child welfare advocates, active foster parents and by the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) and was recognized in a special presentation in Salt Lake City.
“I’m really honored by this,” said Marquardt, who works as a professional chef for the Bella Terra Nursing Home. “In past years, my wife and I had some medical issues that affected having children of our own. We now have our five-year old son, but I think we were feeling that our home was a little empty, so we hoped to help out more children through foster care.”
According to local experts in Foster youth placement, there is an ongoing need to find a temporary or long-term ‘home’ with parents who are willing to step forward to complete formal training and become approved to care for one or more siblings in need of a home. But that is only the beginning of making a difference in a child’s life.
“In our first call for foster care, we were asked to take in three children, ages one, two and four,” said Marquardt of their modest home just west of town. “I have to admit that there was a lot of chaos with our own five-year old, but we loved them all instantly.” According to Marquardt the first three siblings were part of their family for 10 months until it was time to reunite with parents.
“The hard part for us was letting them go and not having them as part of your life because the important goal is for family reunification,” said Marquardt. “After taking a short break in time, I think we had made a decision not to take on multiple children at the same time again. But a few months later, we heard about another three siblings who needed a home – so it just felt right.”
Marquardt said they may have only a few hours in notice and ‘take home’ time.
“It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for families who decide to foster. At times you deal with multiple appointments (medical, school and sometimes with social workers or family) and there may be tantrums or kids who are trying to adjust,” added Marquardt, “But I can say that our house is full of love and more is more.”
According to Marquardt’s wife, Cindy, their own son has also benefited by having children in their home and has given him more confidence, a willingness to share, and to understand the emotional and physical boundaries of others. They say, the final decision to adopt the three siblings was carefully considered.
“We were surprised at how quickly they felt like our kids,” said Marquardt of placement and the adoption process and birth-certificates that will soon arrive. The Foster Care program asks families to work with the biological parents toward reunification. “My wife and I have a really strong relationship…we’re a team and I think you need that to meet the challenges and the trials that will come.”
In celebration of Father’s Day, Marquardt was honored for stepping into the role of Dad for the children who he and his wife have cared for in both foster Care programs and more recently in adoption. Both say the experience has given them a chance to ‘share their heart’ in what can be a challenging time for any child who needs a transitional family.
“These are really awesome kids and we are very fortunate to have them.”
For information on Foster Care programs, see email@example.com or go to utahfostercare.org.
Billy and Cindy Marquardt shared their heart and home with three foster children in 2017, and recently adopted three more siblings in Iron County. Marquardt was named the Southwestern Regional “Dad of the Year” (2018) for his commitment to provide a home to foster children with short and long-term transitional needs. (photo by J. Aerts)