Supporting Foster Youth Through Our Hale Malama Program

Hale Malama is a specialized foster care program offered by Catholic Charities Hawai‘i. This program is for infants and toddlers with complex health care needs. Resource caregiver, Janine, works with babies who need a safe and nurturing home while also providing mentorship and visits to birth families.

“The night before I met my daughter’s biological parents I was so nervous – would they like me? Would they think I was good enough at caring for their baby? Should I share all her milestones or will that make them sad?

It turns out that bonding with strangers is easier when there is a precious baby at the center of it all. I began looking forward to our visits. Many of my other fostering friends do not have the opportunity to get to know the biological parents. These one-hour, bi-weekly visits were sacred moments to treasure. I share the milestones- how she was growing and changing and our recent adventures. Her parents in exchange told their stories of growing up on the island, how they met and fell in love. They shared what it felt like to find out they were expecting this baby, and how they selected her name.


For 18 months, we exchanged memories in the Hale Malama visitation room, tales of our families, and love for the same precious baby. When I look at her now, I see her first parents’ strength, tenacity, and creativity. I am always reminded of the privilege to meet and bond with my daughter’s biological parents. It’s an honor to be able to tell my daughter that when she laughs, her eyes sparkle like her “tummy” mommy’s and that her smile reminds me so much of her first daddy. I can share that a particular book was mommy’s favorite one she read when visiting and that her tummy mommy and daddy were so proud when they saw her take her first step.

I miss sharing these moments with my daughter’s biological parents in real time, so I do my best to capture them in photos and videos that I post to our shared online photo album. It has been nearly two years since I last hugged my daughter’s birth mom, but our mutual affection is evident in the comments on our photos. Mom and dad comment:
“She’s become quite the artist. I think she may open her own tattoo shop one day!”
“Nice birthday cake! You’re such a lucky girl!”
“She has discovered the moon and points it out every time we’re outside!”
“That’s so cute and funny because I talk to the moon when I miss her!”
“Listen to her talk, she’s so smart like her Mommy!”

Despite the fact that we no longer see each other regularly, the influence of my daughter’s biological mom never goes away. In many ways, parenting this child will always be a shared journey.


We are two mamas with the same goal—to love this little girl and help her grow into a strong and healthy woman. And our email messages to each other always end with a similar line, “Thank you for giving her life.”

Please consider making a generous donation today to help us provide support to our babies and their resource caregivers who do such extraordinary work to bring about positive influence in the lives of our youngest and most vulnerable.

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