Foster care is one family’s legacy

By Lucas Land

Caring for kids in foster care is a part of Lizzie Allen’s family heritage. Lizzie’s grandmother, Marguerite “Peggy” Terbrack, always wanted 12 kids but only had nine. So, she and her husband decided to become foster parents in 1973. She continued fostering for two decades after her husband died in 1987, and only stopped fostering when a relative gave birth to triplets and she wanted to help them. Peggy passed away in 2009 at age 79, but her legacy lives on in her descendants.

A Terbrack Family reunion with Peggy in the middle of the front row

Lizzie shared a typical story about her grandmother. Peggy was driving her tan station wagon on the freeway with twin toddlers she was fostering when the car caught on fire. She pulled over and tried to figure out what to do. She got the first child out of the car, but didn’t know where to put it while she went back for the other one. So she, ever so gently, tossed the child into the ditch on the side of the road and went back for the other child. No one was hurt in the end and she walked away with everyone intact and quite the story to tell. Neither the daunting task of fostering nor flaming cars could keep her from caring for kids in the foster care system.

Lizzie Allen’s mom is one of Peggy’s biological children, six of whom also became foster parents and three of whom also adopted. Lizzie grew up just five minutes away from her grandmother and remembers lots of “cousins” always around. “Cousins” was how they referred to all the foster kids who continued to be family even after they left their care. Even though Lizzie is biologically an only child, she has 17 foster siblings, one of which, her sister Molly, was adopted.

Lizzie (left) with her dad, mom, and sister Molly.

Law school at Baylor wasn’t the original plan for Lizzie. Her adopted sister was non-verbal when she came to their family. She didn’t talk or interact with people and needed a lot of speech therapy. Lizzie wanted to help others like her sister. So, she studied speech pathology and worked in the education system.

She soon became frustrated with the ways that the system failed to serve the students she
worked with, seeing claims being denied and schools not having the funds to adequately serve these students. Consequently, she decided to pursue a law degree at Baylor and hopes to work in special education law.

Her family’s legacy of involvement with foster care and her passion to advocate for kids made becoming a CASA volunteer the perfect fit for her. She completed CASA’s training in October 2020 and was assigned her first case in November.

As a CASA she advocates for the best interest of the child(ren) in her case. This includes working with all of the stakeholders in that case. Lizzie wasn’t sure how she would handle working with the family of origin, because she has seen so many hard things that her foster siblings had to deal with. In her case the parents are working really hard and she feels good about her involvement in the process.

Lizzie has an internship planned with Disability Rights Texas in their Special Education Department. She and her husband met at Baylor, got engaged in Independence, and got married in the chapel at Truett Seminary. So, while they don’t know everything the future holds, their roots in Central Texas run deep, just like the roots Lizzie’s grandmother grew in caring for kids in the foster care system that continue to bear fruit over a decade after her passing.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, you can go to casaforeverychild.org, email recruiter@casaforeverychild.org, or call (254) 304-7892 to learn more.

Lucas Land is director of communication and development for CASA of McLennan County. He loves living in Waco and finding ways to connect, get to know, and give back to this community. Lucas lives in the Sanger Heights neighborhood with his spouse, three kids, and their dog, Jayber.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

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