Caring comes naturally for foster mom

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Aleada Curry of Cape Girardeau doesn't much care how she spends Mother's Day today.

She knows she and her family will go to church. After church, whatever her children decide they want to do to help her celebrate her day is fine with her. Whatever her own mother wants to do is also fine with her.

"We'll do whatever comes natural," said her husband, Jesse, who works for the city of Cape Girardeau.

What comes natural to Aleada Curry is being a mother. She has a grown daughter and son -- Tomorra, 24, and Travis, 18 -- and currently cares for two foster children, 7-year-old Khyrin, and 11-year-old Derrick. Over the past 15 years, she has raised her own children and cared for 28 foster children.

For most of her adult life, Curry has taken care of children; she worked for a while at a state school for disabled children. She ran her own day-care center for four and a half years and worked at other day-care facilities.

A native of Cairo, Ill., Curry studied elementary education at Shawnee Community College in Ullin, Ill. She said she still considers going back to school and finishing her degree.

"My mom said I should have been a schoolteacher," Curry said. "I worked for Head Start in 1985 and 1986 as a teacher's aide. I had a lot of fun working with those kids at the Head Start."

Her daughter, Tomorra, is living on her own -- caring for her own foster children while working for the Red Cross -- and her son, Travis, is contemplating going to college or joining the military. Curry now is a stay-at-home mom to Derrick and Khyrin. She's had Khyrin for a year and four months and Derrick for three years.

Blending her family with the foster children, she said, could be difficult at times, especially when her biological children were younger.

"My kids said they feel like the foster kids get away with more," she said.

That's probably because foster children often come to a family with special needs and problems.

"You really learn about life when you're a foster parent," Jesse Curry said.

The two boys she cares for now started school in special education classes, although one of them has moved into the regular curriculum.

There are tears and questions at first when foster children come into the house, Aleada Curry said, but they come around and settle in when they begin doing things together as a family.

"I take them skating, take them to the movies, we go fishing," Curry said. "It eases their mind. They love to go to Chuck E. Cheese. We go to Six Flags every year; that's something they look forward to. We go on picnics. We have a Fourth of July picnic and do fireworks. We do all kinds of things."

Derrick and Khyrin also enjoy playing miniature golf, riding go-carts and going out for ice cream. They have also discovered the stores where merchandise costs only a dollar.

"I give them money, and they love going in there," she said.

If there were tears when the children were first placed there, there definitely are tears when they have to leave. Some children are just hard to give up, Curry said. Some of the children who have lived with her have stayed connected with her, she said. Not long ago one girl brought her own baby for Curry to see.

"I'll be thinking about them and wondering if everything is all right with them when they leave," she said. "Sometimes it's very hard. Then I go on, and another one comes."

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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