Beloved foster mom opens home and heart

Misty Willetts’s warm smile, or mischievous grin, is known and loved by many Flin Flon area residents.
But if there’s one thing the community appreciates about her, it’s her heart.
Willetts has opened her home to nearly 200 foster children over the past four decades. She and husband Wayne have adopted five of those children.
Misty and Wayne had been married just a short time when they moved to Brandon for his schooling in 1973. To keep up with room and board, Misty babysat five children around the clock.
While living in Brandon, the couple found out they were expecting their first child, daughter Bobbi. In time they were expecting a second child, but their son tragically passed away one day after he was born, on May 20, 1975. In August of 1976, the Willettses welcomed another son, Kelly.
The family moved back to the Flin Flon area and built a home – with the help of Misty’s father – where they still live today.
“I decided I couldn’t handle just having two little kids,” said Misty, who had grown used to having five children around from her days in Brandon. “I called social services and said that I had an interest in becoming a foster parent. By that night, I had a baby.”
First child
Petey was the family’s first foster child, as he was welcomed into the Willetts home in 1977.
Since then, the home has had 193 other foster children. Some have stayed for a few weeks; others a few years.
“We would have [some of them] for quite some time,” said Misty. “And that in itself is a problem because, well, those are my kids. How dare you take them now.
“I loved it and I hated it. The only thing I hated was giving them back. It was just horrible.”
Misty said she and Wayne “pretty much asked to adopt every one” of the foster children but “were lucky enough to get five” in addition to their own two children.
Her own children, and those she has welcomed into her home, have had a big impact on Misty, now an assistant manager at Walmart.
“Children – that’s the biggest accomplishment I’ve ever had,” she said, as tears began to well up. “This is just a job. That was something totally different. They gave me more than I could have ever given them. It’s pretty amazing to be loved just because.”
Under her wing
Misty still remembers one little girl she fostered for just two weeks.
“It was such a bad reason for her to come,” she said. “I took her under my wing and we did her hair with a perm and we did all this stuff together – just her and I. She just couldn’t believe that [someone] would do that.”
The little girl continued to phone and keep in contact with Misty for 10 years.
“And every time she said, ‘Mom, can I please come home?’”
Misty is currently an inactive foster parent, as she works and feels she doesn’t have the time to do both.
“I honestly don’t believe I should have a job if I’ve got [foster] children,” she said. “Not that children need to have someone there for them all the time. I would prefer to be there for them. They’ve already been taken from what they know, so I do tend to think I should spend more time with them.”
Misty started work at Walmart in 2002, when the store first opened its doors, but is eager to get back to being a foster parent.
“When I do retire, [social services officials] already know and they’ve already said yes, they’ll just reactivate me,” said Misty. “I really miss being with the little ones.”
Family has been a key ingredient in Misty’s life, as she says it’s her biggest accomplishment. Including neighbourhood kids and those she babysat, she has helped care for more than 200 children.
It wasn’t uncommon for Misty to have 22 children running around her house on any given day.
“When I would do the yard work and [use] the lawnmower, I’d have a train of kids,” some of whom were just over to play, she said.
“I loved it,” she said, though she knows full well those driving by likely thought she had lost her mind.
With seven children and four grandchildren, Misty and Wayne have plenty of room left in their hearts for more.
See Canada
In 2009, after nearly four decades of marriage, Misty and Wayne had not been on a family vacation together. That year, the couple took their first trip with their children to BC. They have since returned twice.
“We had too many children for a holiday,” Misty laughed.
The couple took their family on outings like fishing and camping trips, but a cross-country trip was out of the question.
“We didn’t own a bus,” said Misty. “And even if we did, I wouldn’t bring a bus across the country with children and no seatbelts. I wasn’t putting my children in a foster home so we could go on a holiday.”
In addition to becoming a foster parent again, in the next few years Misty hopes to hit the open road of the East Coast to check another wish off of her bucket list.
“I don’t even want to go outside of Canada,” she said. “I want to see all of Canada.”

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