A Generational Legacy of Fostering and Adoption
Fostering and adoption is a legacy for Lisa and her family. At just three years old her beloved Aunt Sallyann adopted a little girl, and from that moment Lisa knew one day she wanted to do the same.
Lisa grew up, married her husband, had five biological children, and fulfilled her lifelong dream, adopting four children and fostering more than 10 children in long-term placements.
Lisa had adopted a little girl from Sierra Leone during the time of their civil war, when she learned another little girl from the same country was in need. That’s how Lisa and her family found New Directions. New Directions’ trauma-informed training and exceptional staff gave Lisa the support and guidance she needed to help her foster children in healing the trauma they endured.
“They have always been a wonderful advocate for us as foster parents, and even bigger advocates for the kids. They know these kids so well, and understand their needs. They are able to find families that are the right fit for the kids. There are a lot of kids out there that need a family, and then, of course you just fall in love with them all,” Lisa explained.
When Lisa’s eldest Daughter, Lydia was in her early twenties, she became a certified foster parent so she could help her mom by providing respite when she needed a break. Her plan was to provide respite sporadically on the weekends. That plan changed rather quickly when a teenage girl she knew, a sibling of some kids her mom had fostered, needed a placement. The teen had been through 17 foster homes by the time she came to Lydia, and that’s when things changed. She said “If I’m in this, I’m in it. Knowing the history of how many foster homes she had been through, I told myself this is it. I’m not giving up on this girl. Many kids will tell you, leaving their families is hard and traumatizing, but the worst thing is being sent away over and over again. I wasn’t going to do that.” Lydia adopted her eldest daughter, Kassie, when she was 19 years old. She went on to adopt four more children. Her first two were older teenagers, and then she adopted a sibling group aged 9 years to one years old.
Lydia explained all kids have different levels of need and ways they want to be supported. There is never a one shoe fits all approach in loving and helping children heal and flourish. The youngest sibling group had endured significant trauma and neglect. Her nine year old had significant developmental delays due to the neglect, and doctors told Lydia she would never catch up to her peers. Today, her daughter is 17 years old, an honor roll student, playing multiple sports including track and bowling, and loves to play her flute. She’s applying to colleges, has a job, and is excited about her future. One moment that stood out to Lydia recently was when she daughter was looking at colleges and different majors. She turned to Lydia and said “This is hard trying to figure out what I want to be, because I can do anything I want!”
Fostering and adoption is so ingrained in their family, and they love every minute of it. “There is such a significant need for foster and adoptive parents. I think many people want to do a good thing, but may not understand the high level of need these kids have from the trauma they’ve endured. My youngest was moved six times before she turned one year old. That still affects her. There is so much loss and you just have to be there with them through it. You can’t have the mentality of ‘I’m going to save you.’ Understanding it may not be what you expect, and it will be tough, but it is also so unbelievably rewarding and you just love these kids so much.” Lydia now works for New Directions as a parent trainer. It is her passion to empower children and families heal and build on their strengths.
Kassie now has a family of her own and is continuing the family legacy of fostering and adoption. She currently is fostering four children. For their family, they hear of a kid, or know of a need, and they want to be a support for that child.
Aunt Sallyann was the eldest daughter in her family, Lisa the eldest daughter in hers, and so on with Lydia, and Kassie. A family legacy of fostering and adoption four generations strong.
Aunt Sallyann and her husband Lisa (center) with her six oldest children Lisa’s youngest three children