A True Inspiration

Bertha Jones, of Tyler, is a remarkable young lady. Many people have been so impressed with this teenager, she was just named "2002 Outstanding Foster Child" for this region in Texas. Bertha says, "I don't know why they picked me. Cause there's lots of kids out there that have gone through more than I have." A modest 17 year old, Bertha, sits proudly in her wheelchair. She has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but that doesn't slow her down. She explains, "You learn from what your life brings you." And Bertha, has learned a lot. She's been in foster care 11 years, nine of that with Judy and Steve Foster of Tyler. "It's just phenomenal the changes that have been made in her over time," says Steve. At first, the Fosters were told Bertha would need to be institutionalized, and would never functionally do anything. Judy quickly says, "Boy were they wrong!" She goes on to say, "Bertha has put forth a tremendous amount of effort to get where she's at today. Sometimes I don't think people realize that what they take for granted takes her 3 to 10 times more energy and more time to plan to do and she still gets it done." Nothing is more evident than watching Bertha at one of her therapy sessions. "Push, push, push, " says her therapist Kristi Smith. Bertha started going to physical and occupational therapy two times a week at Ellis Rehabilitation Center in Tyler. When she began, she couldn't even sit up on her own. Now, she can get out of her wheelchair by herself. Bertha proudly says, "They have done great with me. It's like a miracle." Kristi says the credit really goes to Bertha. "She has a great internal drive and when she has something she wants to do, she's going to achieve it. It may take us 6 months or a year, but she's going to get there." Bertha's goal is to live on her own, be independent and get a job. Her determination is strong. "I think that comes from wanting to be like everyone else, and knowing that you can't be like everyone else," says Bertha somberly. She's a student at Robert E Lee High School in Tyler. She's well liked and has lots of friends. She enjoys getting involved. She's on the pep squad, went to prom, and took part in homecoming celebrations. "In my life, I figure I've had a great life so why complain," says Bertha. And she wants to share that inspiration with others. This summer she hopes to volunteer at Tyler's St. Louis School for disabled children. Bertha says the reason is simple. "I don't think about me. There is a whole rainbow of us out there that need help." Before coming into foster care, Bertha had little hope, spirit, or mobility. Judy says that has all changed. "You just give them a fertile ground and see if they're going to bloom and this one bloomed big time." And Bertha says being named "Foster Child of the Year" is an honor. "This award, it's for every kid out there that's worked hard. It's not just for me."

As always, we want to remind you that if you'd like to know more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, call our Gift of Love hotline toll free, 1-888-kids-275.