Together, the children in Kim and Michael Miser’s family can eat seven pounds of macaroni salad in one sitting. Kim Miser has to make two trips in her minivan to get all nine of them to school.
It took months to get one family, the Misers and their four children, used to the other family, the five foster children they took in last June. Five months later, the couple finally can say they know all the foster children’s birthdays and favorite foods.
But there’s a catch — the kids aren’t there to stay. They’re really a loan from troubled parents who struggled with poverty and substance abuse and could no longer adequately care for the brood, Kim Miser said.
After having formed a strong attachment to the children, ages 6 through 12, spending thousands of dollars preparing the house for their arrival and taking hours each day to care for their needs, she and her husband likely will have to give the kids back to their parents this summer.
Reunification was the goal from the beginning, Kim Miser said. Most of the time, she is OK with that and tries not to think too much about what it will be like to give them back, but sometimes, she worries. It’s just something mothers do, she said.
Michael, a math teacher at Bell Mountain Middle School in Menifee, said the two have always wanted to take in foster children.
After having triplets, and seeing the exceptionally strong bond the children formed with each other, they began discussing taking in siblings who otherwise might be split up and placed in different homes.
When Kim quit her job at Hemet Hospital to care for the triplets, 8, and her older son,16, the idea came back up.
“From the time we’ve known each other, we’ve wanted to do this,” Michael said. “Earlier, it just wasn’t the right time.”
They saw another couple adopt two children from Russia this year, but it cost $20,000 for the whole process, and the Miser’s couldn’t afford that, especially with Kim staying at home. So they started leaning toward the more affordable option of taking in foster children.
The couple receives between $500 and $700 per month per child, but spending $1,200 a month just on food, the money doesn’t last long, they said.
They wanted to do something positive for children who might otherwise have no other place to go, or who might be separated from their brothers or sisters — even if it meant giving them up again in a year, Kim said.
After filling out many forms, having their house inspected and being interviewed, they were accepted by a foster agency, and started waiting for the call. It came in June. There were three children who needed a family, and the Misers started preparing. But those three were reunited with their parents two days later, and the Misers went back to waiting.
The next day, another call came, and this time, the agency said it had a family of five children for the couple, so Kim drove to Orange County, picked them up, and took them home.