When Dan Wackerhagen began to talk to his wife, Erin, in the early years of their marriage about becoming foster parents, she was hesitant.
“I wasn’t ready,” she admits. “I had heard horror stories.”
Some years passed, and Dan and Erin both began to feel a persistent call for their family to do more for others— to serve and live on mission as a family. By then they had two young children, Daniel and Caroline, and were busy running AdvantaClean, a water damage restoration small business based in Greenville. Erin also taught public school online through SC Connections Academy. Despite their busy, full lives, there came a point for Erin where there was “no doubt” in her mind she and Dan should become foster parents. Dan’s response was, “Finally! Let’s do this!”
That was over three and a half years ago and the initial fears about fostering the Wackerhagens had are in the past. They had worried about what it would mean to give up some of the conveniences and comforts of their everyday life in order to foster, or to have to step back from activities they loved, like baseball and horseback riding. But they’ve found the little foster loves that have lived with them over the years enjoy being included in family activities and adventures. Besides, anything they’ve had to give up has been small compared to what they’ve gained from being a foster family, according to Erin.
“We wouldn’t trade a thing for all the hugs, smiles, laughter, and opportunities to minister to the kids, their families and others.”
The Wackerhagens have also seen spiritual growth in Daniel and Caroline (now 10 and 8 years old), and a deeper understanding of unconditional love and what it means to sacrifice for others. Dan and Erin are quick to point out that fostering isn’t always easy, and they have hard days. But as a family, they filter tough times through a favorite quote- “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
Today that means caring for a toddler boy and living life as a family of five. From the years they have spent fostering, the Wackerhagens are now the ones with stories to tell. Not horror stories, but stories of hope, redemption and the joy they have found in loving kids when they need it most.