Valmeyer native hailed as ‘Angel of Adoption’ - Republic-Times | News

Valmeyer native hailed as ‘Angel of Adoption’

By on October 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

Pictured during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., from left, are musician Steven Curtis Chapman and wife Mary Beth (2011 Angels in Adoption), Sean Parada and his mother, Sue, and Senator Roy Blunt. (submitted photo)

“Mi casa es su casa. My husband always says that. It means my house is your house,” explains Sue Parada.

In their south St. Louis home, Sue and her husband, Ivan, have taken in and cared for 151 children over their 37 years as foster parents — along with raising four children of their own.

Sue’s journey began in Valmeyer, where she grew up and graduated from high school. Her parents, Sylvester and Gertrude Maher, always inspired her to help others, she said. Growing up during World War II, Sue says it was just second nature to assist a neighbor to get through tough times.

“Growing up in Valmeyer, people just always helped each other,” she said.

Much of Sue’s inspiration to help others also comes from her faith. While living in Valmeyer, she was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. She later got involved with the Division of Family Services for the first four years as a foster parent and has since been associated with Good Shepherd Services for Children and Youth.

“We really pray for them, because they go back to where they came from,” Sue said of the foster children.

She recalls her first set of foster children with Ivan, a 10-year-old girl and her 23-month-old sister, given to them in 1975 as an emergency case of abuse. The Paradas had a baby boy of their own, along with Sue’s daughter Michelle from her first marriage to the late Ernst Kettler of Valmeyer.

“It was like having newborn twins,” Sue recalled.

Nearly 40 years later, the Paradas have molded themselves into emergency and medical case foster parents. With impressive medical backgrounds — Sue as a laboratory and x-ray technician and Ivan as a lab tech and pharmacist — the Paradas have been able to assist children in need of daily medical treatment or rehabilitation.

Because of their service, the Paradas were named “Angels of Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute during a ceremony in Washington D.C. on Sept. 11.

Sue and the couple’s son, Sean, who attended in Ivan’s place because he does not like to fly, accepted the award alongside actress Catherine Heigl and her husband, singer Josh Kelley, who have adopted two daughters, along with several other 2012 Angels of Adoption.

Also in attendance was U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), who nominated the Paradas for the award.

“We don’t know how he heard about us, but he nominated us,” Sue said.

Sue was able to meet several lawmakers in Washington, and talked with them about issues in foster care, expressing her concerns.

“I really didn’t know that Congress was that involved with adoption,” she said.

After Sue returned from her trip, the Paradas then appeared on KSDK News Channel 5 on Sept. 19, talking about the award and their overall journey as foster parents.

“I never thought we would get all this recognition,” she said. “And when Kay Quinn asked if I ever thought I would foster 151 children, I laughed and said ‘No.’”

 The Paradas, who are in their 70’s, say there is always room for more.

“We are waiting for a call for the next one.”

Teryn Schaefer

Teryn was born and raised in Waterloo, growing up watching local sports and Mon-Clair baseball. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School and loves cheering on her Tigers any chance she gets.