This Is His House Now:
How Damien Met His Foster Family
‚ÄúI never thought about being a foster care parent,‚Äù said Elizabeth Ozuna.
However, when her sons, Rocky and Arturo Jr., came home one day from school and told her that their friend Damien needed a home, she didn‚Äôt hesitate to say yes.
Damien, 17, had been a resident at St. PJ‚Äôs Children‚Äôs Home for three years.¬† He met Rocky and Arturo Jr. on the football field at Breckenridge High School and immediately formed a bond with the brothers in 2012.
‚ÄúHe even looks like them,‚Äù said Elizabeth, smiling.
Damien is a quiet, stocky young man who is always smiling.
When St. PJ‚Äôs shifted its programs from residential housing to emergency shelter services only, the few children remaining in the residential program needed foster care placements.¬† Because Damien had been with St. PJ‚Äôs for so long, his case manager, Corina, wanted to make sure Damien was placed in the right environment.
She immediately thought of the Ozunas Elizabeth and her husband, Arturo. ¬†For several years, Damien had spent weekends at their home. While most teens just ask for permission to go to a friend‚Äôs house, the Ozunas had to go through a multi-step process with CPS to gain clearance for Damien to spend the weekend with them. To Corina, the Ozuna family seemed like a natural fit for Damien.
After Corina approached them, Arturo and Elizabeth worked quickly to complete the foster care paperwork and the accompanying studies in record time.¬† They wanted to make sure Damien was going to be a part of their family by Christmas 2014.
‚ÄúIt was really exciting,‚Äù said Arturo. ‚ÄúWe knew that Damien was going to be ours.‚Äù¬† Both Arturo and Elizabeth agree that Damien has such an easy-going personality and that makes it easy on them.¬† Now, their house is full of boys every weekend.
Arturo said his only question was, ‚ÄúDoes Damien talk?‚Äù¬† He says playfully as Damien smiles sheepishly next to him on the couch.
Damien may be quiet around adults, but on the football field he is a leader and a contender.
Damien is currently a captain and starting center for the varsity football team. ¬†He also participates on the varsity track team, excelling in discus and shot-put.¬†¬† Damien does well in the classroom, too.¬† His favorite class is science‚Äîwith lunch being a close second. Recently he took the SAT College Board exam and scored a 1310.¬† He dreams of going to college in Oregon because he is a huge fan of the school‚Äôs Heisman quarterback. ¬†Arturo hopes a D2 school will take a look at Damien‚Äôs football films, but he is quick to tell Damien to concentrate on his grades and not depend on an athletic scholarship. ¬†Elizabeth and Arturo are excited to take Damien on college visits.
Now, six months into the placement, the family is very comfortable together.¬† Arturo is a role model for Damien by talking to him about his future.¬† Elizabeth is the protector of all the boys.
‚ÄúThis is his house,‚Äù said Arturo.¬† ‚ÄúIt always will be.‚Äù ¬†What does Damien think?¬† ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs all good,‚Äù he says with a smile.¬† ¬†Arturo and Elizabeth agree.
‚ÄúHe is my son,‚Äù said Elizabeth. ‚ÄúI always knew I would have three boys.‚Äù