Eduardo Bustillo ’92 and his wife Michelle became involved in the foster care system with the hope of adopting a son. Instead, they made an effort to change the way the system operates and reunited a troubled family. For their efforts, the Bustillos were awarded the Miami Dade County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association’s 2010-2011 Outstanding Parents Award.
“We opened a new way of thinking,” said Bustillo, the director of nursing administration at Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah. “We discovered many flaws in the system and wanted to fix it for the sake of the kids because they are the ones who suffer.”
Typically, when children enter the system, communication between the foster and biological parents is non-existent. The Bustillos promoted a new approach called co-parenting that treats the two sides as partners with the end goal being reunification of the family.
The Bustillos took in two children and kept in close touch with the mother who was undergoing rehabilitative treatment. They allowed her to call her children in the evening to say goodnight so they wouldn’t become estranged. They fully supported her during treatment while enrolling her children in private schools.
When the mother was released the Bustillos went to the judge on her behalf to push for reunification.
“The mother says she doesn’t know how to pay us back, but we say the best way to pay us back is to stay clean, and keep the kids, and make sure they have a family,” Bustillo said. “Next time they may not be so lucky to find people like us. These kids were in seven houses before we got them. Now we see them every weekend and even became their godparents.”