“It can literally change a life.” Kate and Justin Estess began their fostering journey just a few years ago. “We had always talked about foster care or adoption. One year we took some Christmas presents to an emergency shelter in Brandon and we found two children who we immediately fell in love with,” says Kate. Nine months later, they obtained their license, but they were unable to get the children.
Another six months passed, and a precious 2-year-old boy with fetal alcohol syndrome graced their doorstep. Kate says, “He called me ‘mama’ within thirty seconds of getting dropped off. Foster children are craving stability and do not need anything fancy. They just need a safe home.”
The sweet boy stayed with Kate, Justin, and their two biological children for about 10.5 months, and his time positively impacted both the child and their family. “We taught him how to eat, how to talk, how to play, just by existing in our house. He picked up a lot of life skills.” He also greatly loved their children and they were crazy about him. Kate and Justin’s biological son was also 2-years-old at the time, and it gave him a wonderful playmate. “Having a buddy was life-changing for my son. He began talking and interacting. It was also great for Justin and me. We had to rely on each other; it made us lean on each other in a great way.”
Kate says there are about 4500 foster children in DHS (Department of Human Services) custody, and they need at least 800 families who are willing to foster a child. She shares her advice with those who are contemplating foster care:
-Talk to families who have fostered children. Kate says, “You do not want to go into it blindly by any stretch!”
-If you are considering adoption, fostering is a great way to get your feet wet. Foster care is typically short-term, and you have some control over the parameters.
Another inspiring Mississippian, Kimberly Day, began fostering in 2001 as a single woman. She fostered until she married, and she and her husband, Thomas, continued fostering as a couple. Kimberly has lovingly welcomed over 30 children to her home, and has adopted three.
Kimberly says, “You are serving the Lord in a way not many people are willing to do these days…you are teaching your own children to love without boundaries, to care outside your bubble and that ordinary people can make a difference.”
Kimberly’s advises that anyone considering foster care just “do it! There are plenty of people to help support you along the way. Yes, it’s scary at first, but so is the decision to have a baby!”