In JCCA’s Treatment Family Foster Care program, children and adolescents with severe behavioral and emotional problems are placed in homes with specially trained foster parents. Our multi-disciplinary team works intensively with both the children and families to help them resolve any problems.

“When our own children were growing up, the house was alive with their smiles and activities. Now our children are adults—our son, Donnie, works in a medical laboratory as a phlebotomist and our daughter, Veda, works with mentally challenged children. They are both doing well and we are very proud of them.

About 15 years ago, a friend from church told us, ‘You are wasting time by not being foster parents.’ We were so surprised! We had never even thought of becoming foster parents. But we went to the first meeting and the instructor was so dynamic that we decided to try it.

Since then we have fostered 13 children—three of whom we adopted. It has changed their lives and it has changed our lives, too.

My husband and I came from large, loving, close-knit families and happy childhoods. We know how powerful a loving family can be.

As we became foster parents, we have been surprised and pleased by the journey. But it has not always been easy—some of these children have had very rough times and they are angry. They are afraid you will hurt them, too, but we treat them with respect and love, and it helps change their attitude and they begin to talk and trust us. It takes hard work, but the rewards are priceless.

We learn so much from all our children—how to listen and pay attention to them and feel their pain and support them. We want to protect them from the hurts they have suffered. We tell them: ‘You won’t suffer while you are here with us.’

We are so happy when we see them overcome their challenges as they grow and have a sense of respect for themselves and others. And many of them have gone on to other homes and are happy. We have a great feeling of accomplishment that we have helped 13 children get their lives together.

The staff and social workers at JCCA are excellent. They have been there for us every step of the way (24/7) and helped us with everything, from advice to specific techniques to handle a difficult child.

Last year we adopted our third child, Damitry, who is doing very well. Our whole family loves Damitry and he feels the same. We are providing him with a new life and hope. And our other son whom we adopted has just joined the Navy. We are so proud of him and the wonderful young man he has become.

We are still in touch with many of the other children—we get calls and visits on Christmas and birthdays. Now we have an extended family that has enriched our lives. Many of them tell us, ‘You are the greatest.’ And we respond, ‘We love you even more!’

If you are a loving person, there is a child out there who needs love and needs you. You can change a life.”

This story was originally published in the March 2014 issue of Growing Up JCCA.