It’s been said that one simple interaction can change the trajectory of our lives. Jerry and Tammy are definitely living proof of that. Having a friend in need of someone to walk with her after her own foster daughter had been involved in a horrible traffic accident, Tammy and her husband, Jerry, were contacted by the Florida’s social services to see if they would be willing to open their home as a haven for kids who needed medical foster placement.
Jerry is a nurse with 20 years experience in oncology and hospice care, and through their YES, he would get to see how his work would assist over 50 children and their birth families who needed help. As they began the journey, they worried most about the impact that foster care would have on their biological children. Instead of caving to fear, they chose to move forward and actively include their children in every placement.
Tammy shared a story about shopping together as a blended family. She said “fairly soon after we received our first placement, we were out shopping as a family. We were a very white family with a black baby who had a severe, genetic skin disorder and had to be wrapped in cloth bandages over most of his body. A boy came over to us staring at my son and said, “What’s wrong with that kid?” My 8 year old son’s unprompted response epitomizes our family - “That’s not some kid, that’s my brother!” We were able to adopt that baby after a couple years." That pretty much sums up our biological children's response to fostering.
That led to ten adoptions and many opportunities for this family to work with birth families to restore their relationships, a part of foster care that especially tugs on this family's heart and one that is so often overlooked. Tammy said “I went into every meeting with biological families in prayer asking God to remind me that this was just a family/person in need. I reassured families that we were there to help them in their time of need and we would do everything we could to help them restore their family as long as they were doing everything they could.” Eight of their adoptions are open and they still remain in contact with each birth family. Tammy and Jerry are no longer fostering, but with a total of 12 kids and their birth families, they are in the season of raising the younger kiddos still left at home ages 4,6,7,10,16,17,19 & 20 and enjoying their 5 grandkids! This would perfectly explain their descriptions of themselves as a loud and loving family.
Who would have ever thought helping a friend in need would change their lives and the lives of others so immensely? Every relationship counts!