“I love kids and knew I wanted a big family. Adoption was always on my heart. I don’t know where it came from because growing up I didn’t know anyone who was adopted or in foster care. My husband had the same desire to adopt along with having biological kids. God called us to love kids that others deemed unlovable and wrap around them wherever they are. Today we have one biological son and four fosters.
We were licensed in February of 2019 and eight children have come through our home. The four we still have are siblings, ages three weeks to fourteen. When foster kids come to our house, they become a part of our family. They are our daughters and sons and we try to pour into them everything they need while we have them. We have a teenager who may be leaving soon. We tell her she has to make her own decisions and do her work, even if no one else is asking her about it.
We are in the middle of moving to a bigger house. We bought our house four years ago and had one child. We thought it was our forever home, but now we are bursting at the seams. We went into fostering thinking we wanted to take two kids, but God has his own agenda. We surrender our plans to whatever He wants us to do. He provides all each child needs. There was a moment we almost said no to every child we have and now I can’t imagine life without them.
It is easy to be blind and numb to the things that are happening in our backyards in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Neglect and drugs are the biggest reasons kids come into care. We have also seen homelessness and mental health issues. DHR does a good job of trying to keep the family together or placing kids with a family member. There is a lot of work before a child goes to a foster home. Parents then have 12 to 18 months to get their life together. Reunification is always the goal and we have seen it happen.
The kids in foster care are the ones who need our community’s love the most. They have already started falling through the cracks and are tied up in the system. Their futures are unknown and they get pushed along. Caring for them at an early age can turn their lives around. Helping them make good decisions when they are little helps them avoid bad decisions later. The boys need men to mentor them. They are reachable. Things can be unlearned and rebuilt. It just takes time and effort.
Kids have been through so much and trust and stability must be built before they open up. You have to understand where they come from, what they have been exposed to and the trauma they have before you can start parenting. At first, it is just loving and feeding them. Kids are coming into care with food insecurity. Sometimes it is bringing a baby home from the hospital with drugs in her system. You can be prepared, but you have to take this one day at a time.
Kids have been out of school for seven months and the number in crisis will rise as they go back to school. Teachers and counselors see what is going on at home. They are the biggest advocates for the kids and make reports to DHR. The system is already stretched, it scares me what is going to happen when we start finding all of these kids who need help.
There are 517 foster kids in Mobile County but only 129 foster homes. There are 182 foster children in Baldwin County and 41 foster homes. We need more foster families, but people are scared of getting attached and losing a child they have loved. That is a valid fear. You have to go in with reunification as the goal. I love our kids with everything I have while they are in my home and I cry every time they go. But I will take the heartbreak every time if it helps a family be whole again.
I am an executive assistant at City Hope Church and my husband is a manager at Calaga Photo. We both work full time and just bring our kids into our crazy. Fostering is our ministry. My church has been involved and opened its awareness and support of fostering. We also spread the message that it is free to adopt children from foster care. There are hundreds of kids waiting for a forever family.
If you are even thinking about foster care and the urge to help kids, go to the orientation. Licensing takes 6 to 9 months. You set the parameters for how you can parent successfully. You can pick the gender and ages you want to take. They call and ask if we can take one in and sometimes we say no. That hurts, but we don’t take in more than we can parent well.
You don’t have to foster, you can also support the families who are already helping. Take them meals or transport kids to court, therapy or doctor’s appointments.
This is my community and taking care of children is how I give back to the place I have lived my whole life. Our hearts and patience have been stretched, but God provides for us too.”