Help America's Forsaken Foster Care Children!

by Angels In Waiting
James and his family.
James and his family.


When we first met James he was four and a half years old and weighed only 28 lbs. James behaved wildly and was completely non-verbal. He could not form words and only mumbled non-coherently. It was painfully obvious how deeply he had been neglected at home. His hair had never been cut and was obstructing my ability to administer his breathing treatments. I later obtained a court order allowing him his first haircut. When we would play, he couldn’t identify the differences in shapes and colors or differentiate between letters and numbers. James never would establish eye contact with us or anyone. In his previous home, he spent so much time in a play pen that even his walking skills were underdeveloped.

Because of James’ combative behavior, the hospital wanted to ensure I could effectively care for him and required us to do seven hospital visits with James before he could come home with us. James’ anger was valid—he never had one person to focus loving and consistent attention on him. Those first weeks together required a great amount of patience, love, understanding and compassion in order for us to build trust, but slowly we became a family.

Now James is a rambunctious, Lego-loving 6-year-old and in school. He is reading independently and ahead of most of his classmates.Due to his early neglect, he struggles the most with his social skills when interacting with others. He is an active kid that loves to play and eat. Except for a few days of hospital care to treat his nine cavities, four extractions and two crowns, James has not required extended hospitalization since he has been with us. We are trying to keep his life as ‘normal’ as possible even though daily he takes about 15 medications and  does three and a half hours of breathing treatments. He now walks and talks freely and makes eye contact when you engage him. When I took him back to the hospital for an appointment, the staff that used to care for him did not even recognize him.

Our dream for James’ future is for him to maintain his health well enough to eventually give back to his community. James is warm and charismatic and has the charm and personality of cuteness—he has a great heart and could do big things in this world. James has brought great love and joy into our lives and we are constantly in awe of his amazing achievements despite his struggles. James is an amazing person. We are very appreciative of Angels in Waiting’s work to bring kids like James into the homes of nurses. I know our consistent love of James combined with skilled medical care has given him the opportunity for a joyful childhood. Thank you for supporting AIW!


Sophia's drawing of her family.


As I peeked into the swaddled blankets surrounding my newest “patient” on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of a major hospital, I fell in love almost immediately with the precious little, 4-pound infant girl who had been born with Gastroschisis just 2 weeks earlier at 34 weeks. Gastroschisis is a birth defect that causes the intestines to protrude from a hole in the abdomen. Gastroschisis is an extremely variant disease and affected infants can present with minimal to severe damage. Sophia’s case was very complicated, and she was hospitalized from birth to 11 months of age.

After my first shift of caring for Sophia, I signed up to serve as her “primary nurse.” The NICU where I worked strongly encouraged the role of primary RN because it provided vital continuity of care that was essential for critically ill babies. As a primary RN, you become so attuned with “your” baby that you recognize even the slightest fluctuation in their medical status and can quickly implement appropriate interventions. Far beyond her lengthy hospitalization, this adorable “lil peanut” would take me on a journey that not only challenged my nursing skills but stretched my heartstrings fully and completely.

For approximately 4-6 months of Sophia’s stay in the NICU, we were in an isolation room – just her and me. With no other patient to care for and no other nurse to talk to, Sophia received my undivided attention for 36-48 hours per week. Needless to say, a strong bond developed. I sang to her, read to her, held her and prayed over her. I bought her clothes and blankets. I took them home and washed them. I nursed her through multiple painful and difficult surgeries. I advocated for her in multiple ways, often leaving detailed instructions regarding her specific needs/cares for other nurses to follow on my days off.

However, due to the many post-surgical complications related to her intestines, we were still unable to feed Sophia via her stomach, so she remained on intravenous Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN). Long-term TPN can cause permanent liver damage. She had a gastrostomy (G-tube) that leaked excessively and wasn’t useful for feeding directly into her stomach. A jejunum (J-tube) was also placed in the hope that bypassing the stomach and feeding directly to the small intestine would allow a decrease in TPN administration. The skin on her abdomen easily became excoriated from gastric acid leakage and required frequent wound/skin care.

When Sophia was approximately 9 months of age, I began training her mother for discharge home. At a little over 10 months of age, the medical team decided to transfer Sophia from the NICU to the Pediatrics Step-Down Unit, where they could better manage her care and facilitate discharge planning. Exactly a month later, I carried Sophia in my arms outside to a waiting car. I watched the captivated expression on her little face as she felt the soft whisper of a gentle breeze for the very first time. I watched her drive away and my heart was hopeful that she would thrive in her mother’s care.

Sadly, in the ensuing four months, Sophia was re-hospitalized many, many times. I learned her mother was not compliant with medical directives. Sophia was suffering as a result. When Sophia was 15 months old, Child Protective Services removed her from her mother’s custody. She was subsequently placed into a pediatric sub-acute facility. I visited Sophia often while she was in the facility and quickly recognized that she was not receiving the level of medical/nursing care she needed. I watched the “light” go out of her eyes. I knew she simply could not thrive there. I came home after one visit in particular and told my husband that I feared for Sophia’s life. I asked him if he would consider opening our “empty nest” to this precious little girl so we could provide not only the appropriate nursing care, but also the love, stability and security she so richly deserved. He agreed and we began the foster parent process.

With the help of Angels in Waiting, we were finally approved as a nurse foster provider. Sophia was 21 months old when she arrived at our home. She still had severe leaking issues with her G-tube and J-tube, her abdominal skin was painfully compromised as a result. She had frequent stool and vomiting and was unable to eat food due to extreme oral aversion; she was not yet walking and she received TPN through the Central Venous Line in her chest for 22 hours a day, 7 days a week. She basically required 24/7 round-the-clock nursing. I subsequently took a leave of absence from my job on the NICU. I was totally confident that Sophia would thrive in our care. And she did.

Progress was achieved incrementally. One-by-one obstacles were overcome as I worked closely with her medical team. The gastrostomy was surgically closed. After trial and error, a formula was found that could be administered through the J-tube without diarrhea or vomiting. Leaking remained an issue, but creative ways to address the leakage and protect the skin were employed frequently. Consistent and sterile line care eliminated her prior frequent hospitalizations for line infections. In fact, Sophia did not have one line infection from the time she arrived in my home until it was surgically removed two years later. Increased administration of formula via the J-tube allowed the infusion of intravenous TPN to be decreased as well. I began to seek out occupational therapy to help Sophia overcome the oral aversion. For a year and a half, I drove her to 4 hours round trip to Children’s Hospital of Orange County two times a week so she could participate in one of the best occupational therapy programs on the West Coast. Slowly, she learned to tolerate a variety of textures and tastes of food, albeit in very small amounts. The ability to eat by mouth – combined with the rate/amount of formula now tolerated through the J-tube – allowed us to stop the TPN altogether.

Today, Sophia is 6-1/2 years old. She has been with us for 5 years. It is truly miraculous to witness the joy of this beautiful, precocious, and intelligent little girl who has overcome so much to run and play and laugh. She loves us (her Nana and Papa) and our home. She is a blessing to everyone she meets. The last hurdle to overcome is the removal of her J-tube. For now, she gets supplemental formula feedings during the night in order maintain her weight. She eats food just like any other kid; however, she doesn’t absorb the nutrients as effectively due to her shortened bowel. Nonetheless, we remain optimistic. Three years ago, we were granted legal guardianship of Sophia. One year ago, we filed to adopt her. The ending has yet to be written. But one thing is certain. Sophia is a gift from Heaven. We will always be thankful for her in our lives.

Honorable Karen Bass and AIW Founder Linda West-Co
Honorable Karen Bass and AIW Founder Linda West-Co

Angels in Waiting (AIW) is Working to End Child Sex Trafficking

Every year, in Los Angeles alone, at least 120 minors are sold into sex trafficking and the number of unreported child victims is likely much higher. Eighty percent of these youth are foster children. With few community and familial resources, these minors are often lured into the trade by trafficker’s deceptive offers of emotional and financial support—the lack of a stable and safe home makes these children vulnerable to the trafficker’s grasp. Once forced into the sex trade, children face violence on a daily basis and too many have been the victims of murder. Unfortunately the problem is systemic; often girls are recruited from group foster facilities by other foster kids on behalf of sex traffickers. Child welfare agencies throughout Los Angeles are diligently coordinating to provide innovative preventative and rehabilitative services to at-risk and rescued sex trafficked youth, but they need our help.

At a town hall meeting on November 21, 2015 AIW came together with local foster advocacy groups and government officials—including the Honorable Congressmember Karen Bass— to address this issue as a community. When asked to speak, our founder Linda West-Conforti, RN highlighted the ability of nurses to work against child sex trafficking if only the law (Title 22) was amended to include nurses as foster care providers of at-risk youth. With over 300,000 nurses in California alone, AIW could play an enormous role in bringing at-risk foster children into the hearts and homes of nurses. Nurse foster parents are skilled, comprehensive caregivers that can provide loving and supportive home environments. A stable home and supportive childhood is the best defense in preventing sex traffickers from preying on our children. The Honorable Karen Bass immediately agreed that nurses have great potential in providing stability and safety to this vulnerable population.

AIW is now beginning the process of working with Karen Bass’ office to change Title 22 so that nurses all over the country can be first responders in providing homes for foster youth threatened by sex trafficking. With your support, we will grow our administrative and strategic efforts in order to make change in the law as soon as possible—these youth are growing up in life threatening circumstances and can’t wait.

Your donation will allow us to be more effective and swift in laying the ground work for impacting the law. In 2005, AIW changed California law in order to give nurses priority consideration in the placement of medically fragile foster infants and children. Your support will enable nurses to lovingly serve this equally vulnerable population of children. Thank you for protecting and saving the lives and childhoods of foster youth through your support of AIW!

Three Little Angels In Waiting...
Three Little Angels In Waiting...

Kids seek homes for the holidays
This year, tens of thousands of foster children in California will face the holidays in hopeful anticipation of a foster or adoptive parent. The holidays are an emotionally taxing time for these children who have lost their biological parents as well as the comfort and security of home. Without a foster or adoptive parent, foster kids can expect to spend the holiday season with other children in a group facility. Angels in Waiting’s goal is to find foster children homes for the holidays so they can experience what every child deserves: the warmth, love and kindness of the holiday season. We will feature children in need of holiday homes over the course of the season. While our ultimate goal is to find holiday homes that can turn into forever homes for these beautiful children—for those unable to foster, your generous donation to Angels in Waiting (AIW) will help us locate foster parents for our holiday angels. Introducing Octavia, Omega and Omari~

Octavia, born in 2007 is a very girlie girl. She enjoys playing with dolls, coloring and princesses. She also likes watching television, and playing with her brothers. Octavia likes the outdoors and enjoys going to school. She gets along well with other children, and is easily redirected when her behavior calls for it. She has good eating habits and enjoys attention. Omega, born in 2008 is a little boy with a lot of energy. He enjoys playing with his siblings, playing outside, and with toy cars. Omega also enjoys watching television and playing video games. He has good eating habits and eats everything! Omega does have medical necessities and is currently in treatment for sickle cell anemia. He is very playful and loves to laugh. Omari, born in 2010 is the epitome of boy! He likes playing all sorts of sports and games especially outdoors. He enjoys playing with his brother and sister and other children his age. He is known to be a very curious and alert child. He has a good appetite and lots of energy. Octavia, Omega, and Omari are sweet children who are in need of a loving and nurturing home. They are a joy to be around and would be a wonderful addition to a family. Local families preferred. Go to or call 1-888-811-1121 to foster these children.

If you are unable to foster, please consider making a donation to AIW. Your donation will support the operating costs necessary to find a home for these beautiful children to enjoy the holidays together. Currently Octavia, Omega and Omari face the possibility of being placed in separate homes. Because of Omega’s treatable medical needs, it may be harder to find a family that will care for him and his two siblings. Separation is a blow these siblings simply should not have to experience, especially during the holidays. Thank you for your consideration in fostering or spreading the word about these kids and thank you for making a donation to support the work of AIW, which will enable more foster children in California to find loving homes for the holidays.


In The Hearts & Hands Of Nurses
In The Hearts & Hands Of Nurses


On July 10th 2015, Los Angeles County of Children and Family Services requested a second contract with Angels In Waiting to recruit more Nurse-Foster Providers. The agency enthusiastically complemented AIW’s ability to recruit more than 22 nurses when the agencies contract only requested 10 Nurse-Foster Providers. 

Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services “Recruitment Team” is a pleasure to work with, they are truly a dedicated team of professionals trying to save as many medically fragile foster care infant and children as they can, through the hearts and hands of local nurses. Everyday our recruitment team is faced with a rapidly growing population of medically fragile foster care infants and children. This is due to a rise in illicit drug usage and profound physical abuse. All of these angels in waiting need to find a home and a nurse foster Mommy or Daddy to care for their innocent broken souls.

Sadly, most of the foster care population are premature infants who were delivered very early due maternal drug use. A crisis many of our local Neo-natal Intensive Care Units are experiencing due to the rise in the combined use of Meth and Black Tar Heroin creating a profound healthcare crisis of unseen proportions. In the past several months AIW have helped place many medically fragile infants, that are on methadone or a similar potent synthetic pharmaceuticals to mitigate heartrending illicit-drug withdrawals, these painful withdraws only complicates these preemies underlying medical conditions that qualify these innocent souls as medically fragile.

 Angels In Waiting would like to commend Los Angels Department Of Children and Family Services for “Stepping-up once again” and requesting AIW’s help in recruiting more Nurse-Foster Providers for their growing medically fragile foster care population. Nurse-Foster Providers is a cost-effective, and healthier alternative than placing innocent infants and children into group homes, institutional care settings, or into homes with less educated and poorly supported foster parents. 


Thank You, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services “Recruitment Team” for reaching out to AIW once again to help your medically fragile foster care population in finding loving homes, and a good chance for being adopted, through the hearts and hands of Nurse-Foster Providers. For I have seen first hand the miracles that occur through the hearts and hands of our Nurse-Foster Providers.



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Organization Information

Angels In Waiting

Location: Blue Jay, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Linda Conforti
Blue Jay, Ca. United States

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