LOS ALAMOS, Calif. - As Matthew Pennon holds his 8-month-old son Mateo his eyes light up with happiness. Pennon and his kids, Mateo and Garrett, are forming a life long bond.
"Knowing they are ours and we are theirs is really incredible," he says. He and his husband Michael started their journey about three years ago by becoming resource parents for kids in Santa Barbara County's foster care system.
"When a child is taken, our goal is reunification with the birth parents if that is safe and possible," says Pennon.
If that's not possible, Pennon says "Plan B" is for resource parents like him to adopt that child. It's exactly what he and his husband did.
Now, their world revolves around Garrett and Mateo.
"It was more about finding a kiddo we could love unconditionally and provide them with an amazing home," Pennon says about his sons.
Homes like these are what more than 400 children in the county's foster care system are currently looking for.
Social services are turning to people like Pennon as resource parents. The county's hope is to keep foster care brothers and sisters together. Statistics show 55% of kids in the foster care system have siblings and are separated.
"This is our county, our kids--we need to really consider if this is something I can do there are kids out there that need a loving home," says Pennon.
He adds that some of the kids in foster care are often neglected coming from homes where their needs aren't being met.
"Bottom line is safety, that's our bottom line and is this a safe environment are these safe people for them to be with," he says.
His journey as a dad, and creating a family and a home for their kids is something he calls incredible. "Kids are made to be loved," he says.
Love is exactly what the Los Alamos couple plan to do. Love their two sons unconditionally and enjoy every moment as they watch them grow up.
"These guys and gals become individuals and have personalities, and you want to raise strong, independent kids," he says.
For more information about how to become a resource parent, visit: http://ourcountyourkids.org.