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Scripps Ranch mom has encouraging words

Foster mother Michelle Jackson Cooper said Scripps Ranch is an ideal place to raise children. (photo by Hoyt Smith)

Scripps Ranch mom has encouraging words

A Scripps Ranch mother of five with children through pregnancy, adoption and foster parenting has words of encouragement for all moms this Mother’s Day and praise for the community in which she lives.

Michelle Jackson Cooper and her husband, Michael, raised three boys and a daughter locally before adopting an additional daughter eight years ago. Then, about a year ago, the Coopers decided to take in a foster child as well. After a 10-month wait, they recently brought an infant girl into their home.

“My husband and I both thought about doing this for a long time,” Cooper said. “When we were going through the adoption process, it opened our eyes to the incredible need for foster parents. We realized there were a lot of foster children out there and not enough people stepping up to help.”

So, the Cooper family decided to take “a leap of faith” and care for a baby in diapers.

“It felt like the right thing to do, for our family, our children and for kids in general,” Cooper said.

As friends and neighbors will attest, the Cooper’s commitment to children extends far beyond their Scripps Ranch home.

In addition to caring for five children, Michelle Jackson Cooper is a youth leader at Canyon Springs Church in Scripps Ranch, a volunteer in the children’s unit at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital in Kearny Mesa and a volunteer at Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School, “teaching character education lessons about things like honesty, integrity and perseverance.”

“Michelle is an incredible woman,” said Chad Richards, youth director at Canyon Springs Church in Scripps Ranch. “It’s not like she’s setting aside her other responsibilities to be a foster mother. She still maintains her commitments here at church, at school and at Mesa Vista Hospital. She’s a huge asset to us, them and the entire Scripps Ranch community.”

Explaining her drive, Cooper said she comes from a large and “complicated family, one that was broken many times. There were many divorces.”

Her experience growing up, coupled with her current responsibilities, makes her empathetic to the stress and demands of marriage and family life, and the many burdens that mothers carry every day.

“There is so much pressure on moms to be everywhere and do everything,” Cooper said. “Many work full-time, but each one wants to be an excellent parent, home keeper and volunteer. A lot of expectations are put on us and we put a lot on ourselves. It can seem overwhelming at times.”

Her advice to mothers on Mother’s Day: “Be vulnerable, be real and don’t try to be perfect. Do the best you can and don’t worry about having all your t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Just make sure you have your village, your neighbors and people who are there to support you. And don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Cooper also appreciates being a resident of Scripps Ranch, describing it is an ideal place to raise five children.

“It has the close-knit feel of a small country town. Our neighbors, our schools, our church are all great, and the support we’ve received from this community has been incredible,” she said.

There are more than 1,300 children in foster care in San Diego County, according to San Diego Youth Services. Children are most often placed in foster care because of neglect and physical abuse.

Foster parents like Cooper are “real life super heroes,” according Jamie Thomas, director of services for San Diego Youth Services.

“They provide a safety net for the most vulnerable in our community,” he said. “But they’re hard people to find. We don’t have nearly enough volunteers to meet our needs.”

May is National Foster Care Month. Those interested in becoming foster parents may call (877) 792-KIDS or visit sandiegofosterkids.com.

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