As a teenager, Mariah Wilde talked her parents into becoming foster parents and when she was 21, she became a foster parent herself. “When I was a teenager, I actually went to my parents and said, ‘Do you know that there are children who don’t have homes?'” said Mariah, founder of the nonprofit organization Family Link. “And they knew that, but they were never confronted with it. So then my next question was, ‘What are we going to do about that?'”
Mariah has continued her passion for encouraging others to foster and adopt children ever since. “What I tell people is to let your compassion compel you to action,” Wilde explains. After having been a foster parent to many children, adopting two children and having three of her own, Wilde decided to make a greater impact on children who need families by starting Family Link, a licensed Christian foster care and adoption agency.
Family Link, started about eight years ago, is a nonprofit organization devoted to linking children who need homes with foster and adoptive parents in the Central Texas region. “I was raised to really care about others. It’s possible to open your home to those who need it. As I remember, I was a teenager, probably about 13 or 14, when a pregnant teenager moved in [to her parents’ home], and it was challenging, but it helped build character in me and it helped me say, ‘the world’s not about you,’” Wilde said.
Wilde emphasized that there are always children who need homes, and they are just as desperate to be cared for as the children on the news. Children in America and in particular here in Texas by the thousands need a safe and loving home to go to. Some are short term, while their biological parents complete services and others will need a forever family. These children are in our neighborhoods, our schools, and in our churches. They are hurt, helpless, and without a voice.
According to the Department of Family and Protective Services, Texas is always in need of foster and adoptive families to assist with children who have endured abuse or neglect. Family Link works directly with Child Protective Services to find homes for children who have been abused, neglected or exploited. This year Family Link has found homes for hundreds of children. Before placing a child in a foster home, federal and state laws require that foster parents be licensed. Family Link takes parents all the way through the licensing process, from the application and orientation stage to training to an at-home consultation through licensing and placement of children into homes.
Though Family Link has placed hundreds of children in foster and adoptive families, there are always more children waiting for homes. Wilde is often on the road informing people in Central Texas about the urgency of finding homes for children and gets calls at all hours looking for placements. “We’re given a certain amount of time to live. What is the greatest impact we can create in this world?” Wilde asks. “And when you stop thinking about yourself, life can get exciting. I do want people to know they can choose extraordinary lives. As ordinary people choosing to make a difference, that’s how they come to live extraordinary lives.”