LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Mother's Day is Sunday and one Lake Charles mom will be the center of many people's celebrations! That is because she has mothered 100 boys and counting.
Soon to be 83-year-old Easter Belizare has spent most of her adult life as a foster mother. She takes in children the state considers "hard to place" and she has no plan to close the doors to her home.
In your eighth decade of life, you might envision Louisiana front porch sittin'" as a relaxing time to sip on some sweet tea, but for Easter Belizare, this self-proclaimed "ball mom" is watching her three boys sharpen up their skills - in a driveway that's seen a lot of boys play a lot of ball!
"I know it's 100 for sure, children that's come through this house," she said.
Belizare and her late husband, Joseph, adopted one child together: their grandson.
But the couple fostered dozens of other boys and she kept it going as a single parent, because she knows what it is like to be removed from family.
"We were all given away to different people," she said, "everybody had a different home. Nobody knew where nobody was."
Belizare was the youngest of seven children. She was three when her mother died and her father could not care for all of the kids.
Even after being adopted by her teacher, Belizare clung to a promise her dad had made: that he would hop on a train and come get her one day.
"Every day that Sunset Limited would come through," she said. "I still hear it right now. Some days I hear it and it all just goes through my head. When I'd hear that train blowing, I'd start running."
Like so many kids in foster care, Belizare had to accept the heartbreaking reality she would not be returning home. But she was loved by her adoptive mother and learned how to use her experience to care for children in similar situations.
"You have to have the patience, the love, and the understanding," she said. "That's three things you have to have when you start having children that's coming out of care."
Andre Frank spent 17 years as a foster son to the special lady he calls "Maw Maw."
He cannot forget some of the brothers who joined him through the years.
"Kids came with either abuse marks or babies that dealt with drugs, neglect or lack of food," said Frank. "We had one kid that used to hide food in the room a lot because he didn't know when his next meal was going to be."
Frank says Maw Maw was always there for him, even after he moved out as a young adult.
"When it came down to me getting my criminal justice degree, they had one semester I couldn't afford the books, she helped me pay for it," he said, "I can say I probably wouldn't have had that degree if it wasn't for her."
This 27-year-old husband and father does not let a month pass without stopping by to sit down with the woman who raised him.
"This is family," said Frank, "this is home."
Scattered throughout this home, you will find dozens of Christmas presents tucked away. After all, when you have been a mom to generations of boys that keep coming around, there are lots of gifts to give each year.
"Oh, I start right after Christmas," said Belizare.
It's the holidays Belizare cherishes so much, as her home is still the one many men like Frank call "home."
"It means the world to me," she said. "I be looking forward to it and when I don't hear from them for a while I call to see if there's anything wrong with them. But I love it."
And there are lots of other times Belizare reconnects with former foster sons. Homework time leads to lots of phone calls.
"I have to call on them," she said. "And they come! I don't have no problem with them coming! 'Cause I never had none of this stuff that they're having now."
Even algebra can't stop this mom to many from keeping on.
She says she will keep her house open to children in need, because she needs them, too.
"Not until I die," she said. "And like I tell the kids all the time, I need them as much as they need me, so we need each other. We're a family, that's what we are."
Belizare does have to get clean health check-ups from her doctor each year to stay eligible as a foster mother. She used to have four boys at a time, but that number has dropped down to three.
When asked about keeping several boys in line, she says scrubbing toilets, tagging along with her to choir practice or the beauty salon typically nixes any bad behavior!
May is Foster Care Awareness Month and there is a big need for more certified foster homes in Southwest Louisiana. Click here to learn more about the process to become a foster parent or call the Lake Charles region office at 337-491-2470.
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