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Feature Articles

Diego Fuller Shares his Story
of Foster Care, Family
and Finding his Calling

By Kim Phagan-Hansel

When Diego Fuller was growing up, his life was chaotic. His parents were in and out of jail and he and his siblings lived with their grandfather until he died in 1999. For a while Fuller’s oldest sister, who was 17 at the time, tried to take care of her siblings. But things were difficult for the family, so Fuller confided to a teacher about the family’s situation.

When Department of Family Services officials arrived, Fuller dashed out the back door and called his other grandmother. For Fuller that meant moving to his grandmother’s house, but his siblings entered foster care. For a while the arrangement worked well, but as Fuller got older he began to struggle with his thoughts and feelings about his life. A freshman in high school, he began skipping class, being disrespectful to his grandmother and struggling in school.

“I was lashing out for help,” Fuller said. “I was disrespectful to my grandmother. I was very disrespectful to her and other people.”

One day Fuller’s grandmother met him at the door with his belongings and dropped him off at the local Child Protective Services agency. She told him that he was too much to handle. At that point, Fuller entered a group home for about six months. Then, something happened that would forever change his life.

The foster parents of his siblings asked to have Fuller come live with them. The first words from his new foster father, Pastor Aaron Blake, have stayed with him all of these years.

“You are engrafted into my home,” Blake told Fuller. “Everything that belongs to me, belongs to you.”

For Fuller, those words were hollow at the time and without meaning, but over the years, he has come to understand more deeply what Blake meant when he said those words.

“I felt this man was all about his word and everything he was saying,” Fuller said. “That set in really 10 years later.”

Upon entering the Blakes’ home, Fuller was reunited with his brother and one of his sisters. However his oldest sister never entered foster care because she was 17 at the time the children were pulled into foster care. Being with his siblings and surrounded by caring parents began to change Fuller. There were still struggles and the siblings often tested the boundaries, but changes began to happen even though Fuller didn’t fully realize just how much at the time.

“It transformed my life,” Fuller said. “They never turned their back on us.”   

For some people it’s easy to see a point in your life where one path or another would have led you on starkly different journeys. Fuller said he sees that point in his life as when he came into the Blake family. His other option was going to possibility live with an uncle.

“He was living a lifestyle selling drugs,” Fuller said. “I would have been converted to that lifestyle.”

Eventually Fuller went to college. At that time in his life, Fuller said he didn’t give much thought to leaving the Blakes’ home or the impact they’d had on his life. He was anxious to get out on his own. But after being in college for just a short time, Fuller began to miss a few things that he had learned in the home of a pastor.

“He rubbed off on me so much,” Fuller said. “I actually started a Bible study for students.”

But still, Fuller didn’t fully understand Aaron Blake’s message of being engrafted into his family. Fuller chose to keep a distance from the family. Even when he needed $500 to buy a car, he wanted to get the money on his own. Unfortunately for Fuller, the best way seemed to be to write a check from the church’s bank account. Even though Blake stood up for Fuller, to cover the amount taken, but charges were pressed and Fuller ended up with five years of probation.

And despite the fact that Blake came to his aid during his legal issues, Fuller still didn’t yet fully trust the relationship and that he could openly go to Blake for help. After graduating from college, Fuller didn’t have anywhere to go.

“I stayed in the back of the church for seven months,” Fuller said. “I had so much pride.”

During the time, Fuller struggled to determine what to do next.

“I asked God what I was supposed to do,” Fuller said. “I was always rapping so I started writing it down. That’s where the music started.”

During the same timeframe, Fuller began to understand more and more Blake’s message and the two began to build a stronger relationship. What the two discovered together was a way to share what they had both learned through their experiences — as foster dad and foster son.

“When we become engrafted into the Kingdom of God everything that flows through Jesus, it flows through us,” Fuller said. “I learned that from the Blakes and I wanted to share that message.”

Fuller wrote the song Engrafted to share how being engrafted into the Blake family changed his life and launched his Engrafted album in 2014. Fuller and Blake began speaking at various events and sharing their experiences.

“I wanted to use my ability, gifts and talents to bring awareness to foster care and adoption,” Fuller said. “I was the evidence of what he was talking about.”

Today Fuller is a youth pastor at his church and a married father of five. He continues to spread the word about how the Blake family and learning about God changed his life, using his music to share the message about how foster care and adoption changed his life and the lives of others around him.

“I do my best to prepare families to accept the call to orphans,” Fuller said. “They are coming in with a whole bunch of baggage they’ve been dragging through life. They want someone to love them past that baggage.”

Fuller’s new album Ward of the State comes out in August. In conjunction with the album’s release, Fuller is working on a documentary about his life.

“It’s going to be more about my life,” Fuller said. “It’s going to be something people can relate to me.”

For more information on Fuller, his music and the message he shares, visit www.iamdiego.org.

Feature Article Archive

January/February 2016
It Takes a Village

November/December 2015
Advocating for Kids in Foster Care

September/October 2015
Permanency for Children in Foster Care

July/August 2015
Reunification/Birth Family Connection

May/June 2015
National Foster Care Month

March/April 2015
Working with Agencies

January/February 2015
Mental Health

November/December 2014
The Foster Parent Calling

September/October 2014
Attachment & Trauma

July/August 2014
Parenting Teens

May/June 2014
Celebrating National Foster Care Month

March/April 2014
Working within the System

January/February 2014
The Dynamics of Working with Birth Parents and Kinship Caregivers

November/December 2013
Navigating Behavioral Issues with Children

September/October 2013
Back to School Parenting Guide

July/August 2013
Traditional Versus Therapeutic Foster Care

May/June 2013
National Foster Care Month

March/April 2013

January/February 2013
Kinship Care

November/December 2012
Understanding the Impact of Trauma and Abuse

September/October 2012
Nurturing Identity

July/August 2012
Working with Birth Families 

May/June 2012
Celebrating National
Foster Care Month:
Finding Support 

March/April 2012
Parenting Teens 

January/February 2012
Grief, Loss & Anger in Foster Care

November/December 2011
Promoting Better Communication Among the Foster Care Team 

July/August 2011
Discipline Techniques for Foster Parenting

May/June 2011
Celebrating National Foster Care Month

September/October 2011

March/April 2011
The Impact of Social Networking on Foster Care

January/February 2011
My Personal Foster Care Experience and What I've Learned

November/December 2010
Support Organizations Provide Assistance to Foster Families, Children

September/October 2010
The Importance of Keeping Siblings Connected in Foster Care

July/August 2010
Foster Care Health Care: Finding alternative therapies for healing 

May / June 2010
Celebrate National Foster Care Month and Foster Families Nationwide

March/April 2010
Kinship Care - The best interest for children or a foster care alternative?

January/February 2010
Emancipation or Family - Uncovering what's best for teens  

November/December 2009
Discovering What Foster Parents Really Need to Parent

July/August 2009
The Importance of Continuing Education for Foster Parents

May/June 2009
Celebrating National Foster Care Month

March/April 2009
Tips for Parenting Children into the Teen Years 

January/February 2009
Finding the Money Connection in Foster Care

November/December 2008
Looking Ahead at the Future of Foster Car

September/October 2008
Living the Daily Realities of Foster Care 

July/August 2008
Recognizing the Importance of Birth Parent Connection  

May/June 2008
Celebrate National Foster Care Month in May 

March/April 2008
Encouraging Foster Parents to Take Care of Themselves  

January/February 2008
Tips to Help Parents Tackle the Teenage Years

November/December 2007
Becoming the Best Parent for Children in Your Care

July/August 2007
Helping Children and Families Cope with Special Needs Issues

May / June 2007
The Power of Family

March / April 2007
Fostering Un
derstanding in Our Schools

January / February 2007
Finding Inner Peace in Parenting

November / December 2006
Are You My Family?

September / October 2006
Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

July / August 2006
Traditionally Speaking

May / June 2006
From Ward of the State to Defender of the Country

March / April 2006
Becoming Foster Parents

January / February 2006
Thank You, Foster Parents!

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