When asked what inspired her to become a foster parent, Judy, a foster mom of 29 years, answers with a smile and points to the sky.
Faith is a priority in Judy’s life. She’s the secretary at her church, attends Bible study regularly and says being a foster parent is a calling from God. “This is a ministry. It’s a blessing,” she says. Judy and her husband, Jim, have provided foster care for 56 children, mostly babies.
Recently, she thought of shifting gears, and going to Madison in advocacy, but before she could leave, something stopped her. “I was on vacation, walking the beach early in the morning and praying about (what to do.),” recalls Judy. “I truly felt God say there’s somebody waiting for you when you get home.”
It was foster baby 56.
Meant to Be
Judy and Jim’s first placement was a baby named JJ. He stayed with the family for four years until they adopted him in July of 1991. Although things worked out as they were meant to, the journey wasn’t without any struggles.
Judy has three biological children and their original plan was to have a big family with eight kids. But when doctors discovered a tumor wrapped around Judy’s youngest daughter’s optic nerve, their world shattered. Her daughter went through 10 hours of surgery, causing Judy to struggle with many questions in life, specifically her faith.
Judy found herself paying more attention to the news, and she noticed the alarming number of stories about children who were abused or neglected. “My heart was crying,” she said, recalling her thoughts at the time, “Why didn’t they just bring that baby to me? I would have taken care of them until mom or dad got better.”
So, she went to Jim, suggested the idea of fostering, but when he said no, she turned to prayer. It took four years for Jim to change his mind, but Judy believes it was God’s plan
First of Many Placements
Enter JJ, their first placement, a little baby with bad asthma, but a big heart, who the family was thrilled to have.
“I think we were supposed to be available for him,” Judy says. Now all grown up, she calls her son a walking Testament. “He has scripture (tattoos) here, blessings there. He has his adoption date with praying hands over here (on his arm).”
Dedicated for Life
Judy is a mentor for new foster parents. She always hands out her contact information whenever someone shows interest in foster care.
“You know people always say I could never do it (foster) because it would hurt too much to give the kids back, and I say, ‘You would make a perfect foster parent, because it should hurt.’”
Children have cycled in and out of Judy’s home for the last three decades, but each one will always have a special place in her heart.
In her office, her desk and file cabinets are lined with dozens of smiling faces. Every year, Judy and Jim have a picnic for the kids. She’s the godmother to one of her former foster children, she went to see another perform in their school play, she also visited one in jail.
After 56 children and 29 years, Judy has no plan to stop. You may wonder why she is still a foster parent after all this time. Judy’s answer is simple. She points to a photo of a baby in a polka dot onesie and smiles. She says, “The kids are why I do it.”
There are kids of all ages currently in need of foster care. Whether you feel a calling similar to Judy and Jim’s or if you have your own reasons for helping, we want to hear from you. Call 855.GROW.HOPE or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org today.