Military families posted far from home often must rely on each other for support. This is especially true for those who serve children in need, along with serving their country. Nicole Berry knows this firsthand. She considers her Army friends and neighbors as much of a family as any connected genetically. The same goes for her spiritual family at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.
At first, Silas Pederson believed the task too big. The idea that he and Micah, fresh from college and newly married, could capably care for a blind and deaf child facing a mountain of medical issues seemed ludicrous. The prospect of disruption and trials frightened and overwhelmed him. So, he did what he typically does when the path is uncertain - he prayed.
Lydia Lund prayed for eight years that her husband, Tyler, would share in her desire for them to become foster parents. Thanks to a career in social work, she knew firsthand the effect a good foster parent can have on the life of a child. Although not completely opposed to the idea, Tyler just wasn’t sure if it was a good option for them. He and Lydia had recently started their own family and already had two little girls, ages five and two. Then one day, following a conversation with friends who are foster parents, something clicked with Tyler. Three weeks later the Salina couple were in a foster parent training course. “I knew that once he decided, we would go all in,” said Lydia.
Lately, we've been celebrating Saint Francis foster parents who provide security, care, and love every day to children in need. Foster parents see firsthand the remarkable ways children respond to structure and acceptance. They know well the transformative power of love to heal broken lives and families. Today, we share the story of Gabriel and Christ, who were recently named Saint Francis' Kansas Foster Family of the Year for 2017. Once you hear their story, you'll know why.
Ricardo and Sonja Torres tried to have their own children for years. Yet, when friends told them about fostering to adopt, they didn’t jump right in. They discussed it. Again and again. They also prayed. They had lived so long together, just the two of them, that they wanted to be sure this was exactly what God intended for them. Finally, they took the leap. Licensed with Saint Francis Community Services in 2016, the Wichita couple began taking care of children in police protective custody (PPC). By Shane Schneider
“We’ve been lucky,” says Patsy. “By the time they leave, I’d say at least 50 percent of our kids have paid their fines and saved enough money to go out on their own. They’re not perfect, they make mistakes. But you can say the same about any kid. They become like our own, and we celebrate their success. Most of ours have also graduated from high school. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like seeing a kid walk down that aisle to get that diploma. If that’s the only reason I do this, it’s worth every minute.”
Ginny and Chuck finalized Hunter and Sophie’s adoption in March. And though they’ve grown their family through adoption, they remain committed foster parents – working with birth families so they can get their kids back home and helping fellow foster parents navigate the system.
“I just lost it and started crying,” said Christine. “This was in October, and from that point, I was allowed visitation at the hospital, through Saint Francis. The first time I saw him, he was five months old, still in ICU. As soon as I saw him, I knew he belonged to me. I just held him and adored him.”