Foster parenting was harder than most realize
LAURIUM — June “Ducky” Burich and her daughter, Antonia, reminisced about the years Ducky cared for more than 300 children, many of whom were abused, neglected, or both; of infants and teenagers, others with physical disabilities parents did not want. Many of their stories have happy ending, made from tragic beginnings, but every story was one of love, dedication, and devotion to those were defenseless, vulnerable, and needed love, nurturing, and care.
“I have a quote that I tell everybody, and I think they remember it,” said Ducky: “You do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”
Something in that quote triggered Antonia’s memory to the days when disposable diapers were a thing of the future.
Diapers, she said, were cloth and of course, needed to washed.
“And they would sterilize the bottles,” Antonia added. “I mean, there was a lot (emphasis) of work involved.”
Ducky said that she worked for Michigan Bell Telephone for 15 years, and she had two of her biological children during those years.
Her supervisor gave her time off to get married, she said adding that she and Tony were married in Virginia. Ducky misunderstood her supervisor’s intent, and thought she had been released from her employment, and so, went home. She did not remain home for long, though. Her supervisor soon caller her back to work.
While Ducky discussed having two children while employed with Michigan Bell, Antonia was asked how many siblings she has.
“Three hundred, plus,” she replied with a laugh. Biologically, she said, she has four brothers and one sister.
With an ever-increasing number of children being brought into the home by the county, Ducky and Tony sold the home in which they lived, and in 1971, moved to their current home on Pewabic Street. They purchased the home built by James Hoatson, one of the founders of the Calumet and Arizona Mining Company. They did not purchase the home for its historical value, however:
“We bought it because it had more bathrooms,” Ducky said.
Cody Bianco, son of Holly Bianco who was “one of Ducky’s kids,” is an employee of the Houghton County Medical Care Facility. He mentioned that one person helping another sets off a chain reaction.
By Ducky helping his mother, he explained, she helped others in elder care.
“Now, I help people for eight hours a day, sometimes 16,” Cody said, “and after that, I’m ready to go home. So, how she did it for 30 years at 24 hours a day, you’re not getting paid for it, you’re just doing it because you want to do it.