LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — It takes a special individual to be a foster parent, let alone taking in children who are medically fragile. There's a woman in Loxahatchee who does it, makes it look easy and loves the special children in her care as if they are her own.
Savatrie Forbes has lost exact count but said that over the last 18 years, more than 70 medical foster children have come through she and her husband's home. They are children with chronic conditions, some of whom are confined to wheelchairs or have even been bedridden since birth.
"This is our calling," she said. "This is our passion."
The daily routines begin at 5 a.m. in the Forbes home. It involves a lot of preparation, coordination, medication and equipment set-up to get the five medical foster children and their medically fragile adopted 11-year-old son, Seth, ready and out the door for bus pick-up at 8:45 a.m.
A 12-year-old boy currently in their care has cerebral palsy. He is on continuous oxygen and a feeding tube. So how does she do it? Forbes said it is all about people helping people.
"I mean, to have a child with a disability of your own, is God's choice. That's nature," Valerie Mathieu said. "But to take this on willingly and to take on five boys, it's overwhelming. I can't imagine where she gets her strength and her energy every day."
Mathieu and her organization, Chariots of Love, is part of Forbes' village. Her nonprofit group has now modified or provided new wheelchairs for several of the children in Forbes' care.
"It's more than just a chair and mobility for us," Forbes said. "It also assisted us with safety concerns."
This week, the gift of mobility was given to Seth. He loves riding his bicycle and outgrew the one he had. He now has a brand new, safer, adaptive bike, thanks to the donation of a private family through Chariots of Love.
They call him "Super Seth." He was born into the foster system at 27 weeks with part of his brain growing outside of his skull. He was placed with the Forbes family and has defied all odds at surviving, including dozens of surgeries. Now 11 years old, Seth is the only child the Forbes have adopted and is the youngest brother to their two biological adult children.
"What keeps us pushing forward is really just watching our children blossom," Forbes said. "You know, this is our ministry. This is what we're called to do and so we absolutely love fostering. We love fostering our special needs children. It's very rewarding both for us and for them."
If it weren't for the Forbes, the children placed in their care would be in group homes or nursing care-type facilities. What they give them is a sense of home and family, one that has dinner together, goes on trips together and goes to church together. Forbes said it is their "normal" and they are happy to share it with some very special children.