Family happy to make room for more
The din at Bob and Mary Miller’s Alta Sierra home resembles that of a large dinner party or Super Bowl bash.
But there are no black-tie guests munching foie de gras appetizers or loudmouth television analysts explaining a fumble recovery during a super-slow instant replay.
It’s simply the sounds of Trystan Miller, 3, and Rielly Costa, 4, bounding through the house, playing with toys, or begging Mary Miller – “Mom” – to take them somewhere.
Raising foster children has become old hat for the couple, who have already raised five, four of whom are Bob’s biological kin.
Bob Miller, 52, an electrical engineer, compares his foster children to his own.
“I love children, and I love being a dad,” he says. “There’s nothing I don’t see here that I didn’t see with my own kids.”
Bob Miller has four biological children, 18 to 26 years old. Trystan, who has lived with the Millers since he was 5 months old and was adopted
at age 1, was taken from his biological mother and placed with the Millers through Sierra Adoption Services.
His mother has contact with the boy about three or four times a year. “It’s more like a relationship with an aunt,” Mary Miller says.
The circumstances surrounding Trystan’s situation remain confidential, but Miller adds that her son “isn’t old enough to understand.” Trystan’s grandmother asked the Millers to take the boy, in part because she was Mary Miller’s foster sister.
Miller became a foster child when she was 10, after her mother died and her alcoholic father could no longer provide for her.
“For the most part, I was a happy child,” Miller says. “It’s nice to know that someone cares about you, that they will take care of you, just because. What made me want to do foster care was the ability to provide stability for a child that might come from an unstable family.”
Rielly Costa arrived at the Millers’ home as an infant when his biological mother decided she wasn’t prepared to raise a child. There was a brief reunification, Mary Miller said, before Rielly’s mother asked them to adopt him.
“She was very young, and she said there were things she wanted to do with her life, like get married and go to school,” Bob Miller said.
Today, the Millers have joint legal custody of Rielly with the boy’s grandmother, and sole physical custody.
Seeing how the children act out Harry Potter scenes, Power Ranger cartoons and chase each other is indicative of the bond between the two and between the adults in the home.
There are occasional hard times, the Millers admit. Rielly has nightmares and is in therapy, and Trystan is developmentally delayed and falls below his age group in motor skills.
None of this takes away from the love in the home or the fact that one day soon, the children may ask questions. Mary Miller hopes they develop a relationship with their birth parents.
“It’s not hard to love a child,” Miller said. “This is their home.”
Whom to contact
Adoption/foster care agencies and resources in Nevada County:
— Sierra Adoption Services: 272-9600
— Lifetime Adoption Facilitation Center: 271-1740
— In addition, people can be independently licensed for foster care services.
— Those who care for foster children and are seeking help with their educational needs can contact Mary Jane Ryan-Connelly at the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Foster Youth Services office at 478-6400, ext. 210.
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