BEAVERTON, Ore. — The Lundin family is celebrating Christmas this year with a new furry family member.
Ilene, a blind kitten who was rescued from a pile of trash in California, is now in the loving care of Alanna Lundin and her three kids 18-year-old Cassandra, 14-year-old Elijah, and 13-year-old Samantha.
When the family saw Ilene’s story on the news, they knew she belonged in their forever family.
“There was definitely an instant connection when mom and Eli came and brought her home, just because she had been without love for so long,” Cassandra said.
Ilene is a welcome addition in a house filled with foster pets.
“It was the first time my kids didn't make fun of me for bringing home all of this craziness,” mom Alanna said.
On top of having three teens at home, the Lundins foster furry companions for the Oregon Humane Society. Right now, there are six cats and five dogs to keep Ilene company.
Adopting a blind kitten who was born without eyes came with some learning and adjustments. But this family is good at adapting.
Three years ago, Cassandra, Elijah, and Samantha came to Alanna through the foster system neglected, malnourished, and scared.
“It was heartbreaking. I probably cried every night for a year straight, just because it would come up that they would share with me about their life that was so wrong to me,” Alanna said. “A lot of us are raised with families where we have a mom, or we have a dad and we go to school and we go to the doctor and they had never experienced any of that.”
In November, Alanna went from foster mom to just mom when she officially adopted all three.
The youngest of the bunch, Samantha, says their experiences might be why Ilene was such a perfect fit for her family.
“For me, when I heard about it, it connected with our story. We weren't treated well. We didn't have stable food. We would go weeks without eating sometimes and just hearing about her being found like that, when she was just a baby, in a dumpster wrapped in a taco bell wrapper, it was terrible,” Samantha said. “And I felt like we can give her a home that she could enjoy and love. So, I feel like that is what our new mom has done for us and we can do that for her.”
Another cat in an already full house might sound like chaos to most, but for kids who've experienced trauma, these animals have brought calm.
“A lot of calm. It used to be much louder,” Cassandra said.
“Because when you have this little like thing, purring really loudly, you're like, ‘Oh my gosh that's adorable’ and it kind of diffuses,” Elijah said.
“I've seen a lot of healing, just since March. It's been, almost a 180,” Alanna said.
The three siblings get just as much out of fostering these cats and dogs than perhaps the animals themselves.
“They've learned empathy, because that's something that's very difficult to teach when you don't come from a home that has made that a habit and then also unselfishness,” Alana said.
“I felt like it did teach us something great. Like, you need to be able to love, but once they're gone you need to be able to let go,” Elijah said.
Now, Ilene has her new forever family, an amazing family, where healing happens together.
“It's been a huge blessing and I wouldn't change it for anything,” Alanna said.
Click here to learn more about fostering animals through the Oregon Humane Society.
Click here to learn more about Oregon’s foster care system and how to become a foster parent.