Our Islands, Our Future

Karen Wong has been welcoming foster children into her home for the last decade. “Fostering allows me to give the children something they’re missing,” said Wong, a community relations police officer at the Maui Police Department. This month, Wong adopted her fifth child, a two-year-old boy and half-sibling to a three-year-old girl she adopted two years ago. Wong has three other adopted children who share the same biological mom and is related to Wong as well. She said she’s never been able to bear children, but is grateful for the opportunity to have enriched their lives. “Every child to me is a gift, a gift from God,” she said. “I can give them a feeling of what family means.”

Wong first got trained as a foster parent by James and Alda St. James, the founders of Keiki Kokua Inc. Soon after receiving her foster parent license, she adopted her first son. The boy’s younger brother and sister came later into Wong’s home, first as foster children and then became legally Wong’s through adoptions. She said many of the children she’s fostered lack structure and a sense of family. “They’ve had drama and trauma in their life, through no fault of their own.”

Wong said she tries to connect with each and every child who is placed in her care. “To me, these are children from my heart,” she said. She said children aren’t necessarily in need of material things. “I find the most important thing with my children is creating memories, just spending time together,” Wong said. Lory Basa, a volunteer court appointed special advocate for foster children, described Wong as amazing. “Foster parents are really important. We need more caring parents like Karen.” She said Wong has been especially diligent about ensuring that her adopted children get the best education possible on island. “She goes all out and researches every possible way and funding she can get so they can have the very best. … I just really commend her.” For information about foster parenting, call Partners in Development Foundation – Hui Ho‘omalu Program at 268-5122 or visit