Latvia (MNN) – A Buckner foster mother has been named "Pride of Latvia."
Biruta Stepina earned the award by opening her home to deaf-mute Latvian children. She is the only foster parent in the country who knows sign language. According to Buckner, the children under her foster care are Dima, Ivo and Inga. All of them are between 7 and 8 years old, and two are deaf-mute. (Biruta has become Dima's guardian.)
Organized by TV 3 and Diena magazine, the fifth annual ceremony honors people who help others, give hope and fulfill dreams. It recognizes sincerity and selflessness, and promotes compassion and charity among people.
Perhaps she gives so well because of the challenges she's had to overcome. Stepina has had two heart attacks, cancer and paralysis for a year and a half. She says, "The more I help others, the more God gives strength to me to overcome all my difficulties."
Stepina, a widow, raised three biological children who are already grown and have their own families. When she learned about the possibility to become a foster mother, she decided to welcome children with disabilities into her family.
Buckner Latvia supports Stepina through bi-monthly support group meetings, where foster parents can share their experiences, talk about their struggles and current problems, and receive advice from social workers and professional psychologists.
Foster care and adoption services are a hallmark of how Buckner helps create loving Christian families. By living the hope of Christ, it is a profound way to change a child's life forever.