Saint Francis Kansas Kinship Family of the Year: Gena and Clifford Hailey

June 2021 · Foster Family Features, Kansas, Kinship, Ministry News

Human beings will do pretty much anything for those they love, and little compares to the love of a grandparent for a grandchild. So, when Gena and Clifford Hailey realized Phoenix, 3, and Merlin, 2, needed help, they didn’t hesitate to step in. Their daughter had struggled with addiction and other mental health issues for years, resulting in the boys developing health problems of their own.

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Saint Francis Kansas Foster Family of the Year: Lance and Mandy Tally

June 2021 · Foster Care / Adoption, Foster Family Features, Kansas

Licensed more than four years ago, the Tally family didn’t hesitate to wade into the deep end with their first long-term placement – a sibling set of four. Shortly afterwards, they added a fifth placement while the child waited for a kinship assessment. They’ve also fostered a teen, so she could remain in the community until she finished high school. They gave her a car and helped her apply for college and open a bank account. As far as Lance and Mandy are concerned, these actions are all just part of being an advocate for children in their care.

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Adoption grows and heals: ‘Everyone knew we would be the ones to step up’

January 2021 · Foster Care / Adoption, Foster Family Features, Ministry News

Joseph’s younger sister, Vanessa, passed away four days after giving birth in December 2018. At her death, her two daughters from a previous relationship went to live with their birth father’s family. Four days after her mother passed, Alexis turned 10 years old. The girls entered foster care in January 2018, and in April, they came to live with Joseph and Tonya as a kinship placement. None of their lives would be the same – and yet, they were all the better for it.

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Empty nesters: The family that farms together, fosters together

January 2021 · Foster Family Features

Every morning, Jim Zamrzla heads out the door to work on the 5,000 acres he and Stephanie farm near Holyrood, Kansas. They raised three boys and a girl on that land, each of them learning the importance of chipping in and helping out to support the needs of the family. So, when their daughter and youngest child, Taylor, prepared to leave home, the couple wondered just how much their lives would change – and how quiet their house would soon become.

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Forever family is covered in God’s fingerprints

November 2020 · Foster Family Features

Their story begins a mere three years ago, or eight, if you consider how long Shiyrah and Shadow spent trying locked door after locked door. When they finally found the one that opened, they discovered God’s fingerprints all over it. This month, the six of them formally become one, a Williams family on paper as well as in their hearts.

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So okay with being so sad

September 2020 · Foster Family Features

Four months after receiving their first placement, Noah and Kelsey Mathes felt as if their hearts were breaking. Phoning family to tell them that the little girl they’d cared for since she was eight months old would be returning home had seemed completely natural. After all, they’d called everybody when they learned she would be placed with the Abilene, Texas, couple. Those conversations, however, were celebratory; this one … not so much. Yet, Noah could still say to Kelsey, “I’ve never been so okay with being so sad.”

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As Long as I Can Rock in the Rocking Chair

May 2020 · Foster Family Features

When asked, John just smiles and shrugs his shoulders. “No, we’ve never had any problems with it at all,” he says. “It’s been a big part of our lives, and we really have enjoyed it.” After 43 years of foster parenting, John and Debra Holt say they can’t recall one negative experience - although their response might have more to do with the Tulsa couple’s outlook on life than anything else. They have cared for more than 400 children over the years, and each new child who comes into their home still feels like the first. And each child receives the same care, attention, and unconditional love as the hundreds who came before. “We can’t imagine our life without it,” says John.

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“Our purpose was to help others, help kids.”

May 2020 · Foster Family Features

After fostering children for more than a decade, Kevin and Lori still don’t believe they’re anything special. They’ve simply done what they were supposed to do. It’s how they were raised. “It’s what we were brought up to do,” said Lori. “We give back, first to family, then to friends and the community. Always give back.” You could say their foster care journey started more than 15 years ago when they assumed legal guardianship of Lori’s 4-year-old niece, and 5-year-old nephew. They didn’t even think about it. As far as the Salina, Kansas, couple was concerned, the children were family and they needed help. So, they took in the two little ones and began raising them as their own. About four years into it, they began having conversations with Kevin’s cousin, a licensed foster parent. “He told us about all these kids who needed homes,” said Lori. “So, Kevin and I talked about it for several months and then decided to go ahead and get licensed ourselves.”

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Our ultimate goal is to help put families back together

February 2020 · Foster Family Features

Kristi Fry knows firsthand what a good, safe home means to a child, especially to a child separated from her parents. Just 10 years old when her mother and father passed, Kristi was adopted by a family that took her in and raised her as their own. It made all the difference in her life. Her own loss opened an empathetic space in her heart for children like herself, alone and struggling to make sense of their experience.

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