Raelene and Ted MacDowell, a California couple in Redding in their 70s, have fostered 630 kids since 1978. Today, they have 10 children, seven of which are adopted themselves. Five of their children are either foster or adoptive parents, something the MacDowells are most proud of.
In a recent interview with ABC News, Raelene explained why she and her husband decided to foster: “I feel that every child I come in contact with, I want that child to understand what it means to be cherished; not just cared for, diapered, fed, loved, but actually cherished.”
She added, “That’s my mantra. I think every child in the world deserves the right to be cherished by at least one person. We endeavor to do that and make sure that they feel like they’re the most important person in our lives at that moment.”
Most of the children that the McDowell’s fostered had been exposed to drugs or physical abuse. “We decided that taking care of other people’s babies while they get themselves help or treatment is what we wanted to do,” Raelene said.
Though the couple adopted some of their foster placements, the MacDowells worked to help many of the children they fostered to reunite with their parents. “Working with the birth moms, the agency would have a plan for them and we would work with them too … mentoring them to help them get their children back,” MacDowell said. “It was teaching them about the care of the babies and discipline and all of the things that go into being a parent.”
In addition to being a foster parent, Raelene was also a Foster Parent Liason for Shasta County Social Services but has since retired.
Dianna Wagner, branch director for Children’s Service in the Health and Human services agency in Shasta County said this of Raelene and Ted: “She wears her heart on her sleeve and she always finds the positive in any situation. She has the ability to see the best in people, which I think why, prior to us, she was able to take children into her home to care for them as long as they needed that place with her.”
“Her husband also is a great man for sharing his home. It’s definitely a package, the two of them coming together.”
The MacDowells planned to spend Mother’s Day with their 10 children, 28 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren at a picnic.