It was a phone call that would forever change our lives.
When the foster agency called us to ask if we’d be willing to take our now adopted daughter Aria, we only needed a few minutes to decide to say yes. And in fact, we really only had a few minutes. Aria was only 2-weeks-old, and despite being born premature and only weighing 4 pounds, was being discharged from a Philadelphia hospital that day.
“The social worker will be at your house in 2 to 3 hours with the baby,” the agency said. We couldn’t believe it.
We immediately set to prepping our house for what would no doubt be an overnight radical change to our lifestyle. We tried to be as ready as we could in 120 minutes time, but we didn’t really know what kind of situation was arriving.
When Aria arrived, she came with almost nothing. She did have many blankets wrapped around her. As we unwrapped them to reveal her tiny, frail body, we collectively gasped. “She’s beautiful!” our 3-year-old daughter Fiona exclaimed, before anyone else could say a thing.
Four-pound Aria was swallowed by the 12-month-old onesie she was in. It was the only one she came with. Our minds raced to all the premature infant clothes we would need, but didn’t have. “How would we transport her in a normal car seat?” “Where will she sleep?” “Oh, we need smaller diapers — and bottles!”
In reality, our situation was pretty easy compared to the placement of other foster children of all ages, who are often uprooted or moved in more difficult ways. We were fortunate to be in a good financial situation. However, let’s be honest, that’s not a normal reality for many foster families in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. And sometimes support checks take weeks to arrive.
The Fiaria Project has a simple mission: To support foster families during placements and transitions so at the very least they have the essential items they need to provide safe and loving homes to foster children.
In a way, The Fiaria Project started the day Aria was placed in our home and we experienced the need first hand. Four years later, we are so excited to bring aid to other families who have opened their homes and their hearts.
Thank you for supporting us in our mission.
Joe Simek & Alexis Ridge-Simek
P.S. We also want to recognize longtime friend of the Simek Family, Kathy Donaldson, who along with her late husband Paul, created Arizona Helping Hands in 1998. Arizona Helping Hands has been helping foster kids in Arizona for years, doing nearly the exact same thing The Fiaria Project aims to do — and more! Their inspiration and guidance to us cannot be overstated. Thanks for blazing the trail, Kathy.