When Ted and Richard began their relationship, they spent much of the year traveling. They were adventurous and had a very fun lifestyle together, always on the go. Originally they did not have any intentions of having kids because they always had their families’ and friends’ kids around. Those intentions changed when a family member needed temporary care for their child, allowing Ted and Richard to step up to help. The kind-hearted couple cared for the child for as long as needed, and the experience quickly sparked something, bringing them to the realization that they actually did want kids in their home.
In light of this realization, Ted and Richard decided to become foster parents. They felt fostering would allow them to help youth in need and their community. Shortly after they were approved, a few sibling groups had been placed in their home, and many of them were quickly reunified with their birth families. After a few placements, four siblings arrived in need of a loving home. Ted and Richard were ready to help.
Not only can four kids be overwhelming, but going from only fostering one, maybe two children, to four kids under the age of five was something no one could truly prepare for. Soon the stress built up, and Ted had a vulnerable conversation with their social worker, expressing,
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew it was going to be hard. But I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.”
However, despite the difficult adjustment process, Ted and Richard were fully committed to caring for these children.
They hadn’t given much thought to adoption before, but at this point, the loving couple had built an amazing relationship with these four children. It wasn’t a second thought that they would be willing to adopt when and if the opportunity arose. They continued to work with the county towards reunification with the children’s mother. Unfortunately, after 18 months she was unable to meet the requirements, resulting in the children being available for adoption. Ted and Richard were ready.
“It didn’t take long for us to realize adoption was for us. Once you open your heart to loving them, you just realize you never want to let them go.”
The adoption was finalized in June of 2012. Fast forward four years, they adopted one more baby – making them a loving family of two parents, five kids, four dogs, two cats and a whole lot of LOVE.
During those younger years, Ted and Richard hadn’t experienced their children express any symptoms of trauma. They were stunned when meeting with other resource parents during training meetings, finding out that most youth their age were struggling heavily with their childhood trauma. Though as their kids grew, they realized that there was actually a lot of underlying trauma that had not been evident earlier. Guiding their kids through real life issues as they grew into teens became a new challenge. From manic depression, social anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders, and gender dysmorphia – the patient couple had to learn and do their best to walk through these difficult trials with their family
Not only was it difficult to teach their children how to navigate these things in life, but they found it was also a huge challenge to walk through these trials themselves, though they found that they weren’t alone in the process. They utilized many resources with Koinonia and put into play every tool they could find to be able to work through arduous times.
“We’ve talked to people from other agencies and you don’t get the same vibes of what you get when you walk into a meeting at Koinonia – everyone is talking. They know [us]. They also know that if they need someone in an emergency, they can call on us.”
Ted and Richard’s family is an inspiration to so many. They are proof that it is possible to build a family at any age. They embody love and grace as their teenagers are learning to navigate through their emotions. Their family gives hope to anyone wondering if it is doable to go from a traveling and adventurous lifestyle to opening your heart and home to provide a stable, loving, big family to youth in need!
Lanni Jackson, Contributor