In 2003 with five biological children of their own, Carolyn and her husband made the decision to open their loving home to even more children by becoming foster parents.

In the nearly 20 years she has been fostering, Carolyn has lost count of how many kids have come and gone. Some stayed in her home until the age of 21 when they started living independently; a few were adopted by other families; and several were successfully reunified with their biological families. Many of Carolyn’s “kids” have come back to thank her for her support and commitment to helping them succeed.

Though there are always challenges in any parenting relationship, patience and a love for making a difference in a child’s life have kept Carolyn going. Fostering has been a life lesson to show her own children the importance of caring for others. Now that her husband has passed and her children are adults with kids of their own, fostering continues to provide the feeling of family in her home. Most of all, Carolyn continues to foster because she enjoys being a caregiver and helping to support young girls.

This past year, 13-year-old Destiny came to stay with Carolyn. Destiny struggled to form positive relationships with adults in the past and often responded to authority with verbal and physical aggression. Carolyn, however, was able to gain Destiny’s trust by helping her with remote schoolwork and teaching her coping and social skills. Once Destiny returned to the classroom, she was able to use those skills with her teachers and peers to be more successful in school.

From the time Destiny entered Carolyn’s home, the goal was always to reunify her with her mother. Destiny often struggled emotionally after visits with her mother and siblings. Carolyn encouraged her to express her feelings and focus on the present until the next visit with her family. In anticipation of their reunification, Carolyn modeled for Destiny and her mother how to allow Destiny, who is the oldest of five siblings, to be in the role of the child rather than the parent. She also worked to provide Destiny with skills for self-sufficiency.

Thanks to Carolyn’s support and nurturing, Destiny, her siblings, and their mother have been successfully reunified. Being a foster parent and seeing families like Destiny’s thrive have inspired Carolyn to continue being a champion for kids in need for nearly two decades and counting.