Sometimes fostering goes beyond helping just the kids

Sometimes fostering goes beyond helping just the kids

Jeannie Dye has fostered 45 children over the course of nearly 11 years with Arrow, including several sibling groups, but her current situation is turning into something she’s never experienced before.

Just like all the other kids Jeannie has fostered, the one, two and three-year-old siblings in her home are being loved on as if they were her own, but for the first time, she feels called by God to do more…not for the kids, but for their 23-year-old mom.

“I’d been fighting it for a couple of months,” explained Jeannie. “But God kept saying, ‘Jeannie, you’ve just got to help this mom.’ I didn’t realize why God was telling me this, but I finally said, ‘Okay God, if this is what you’re telling me, then I’m going to help this mom.’”

Jeannie hadn’t met the kids’ mom or dad. All she knew was the information CPS had shared with her. But like she does with all the parents of her foster kids, as soon as she knows they’re really trying to get their kids back, Jeannie let’s CPS know it’s okay for the parents to join her for doctor appointments and be part of other similar parenting responsibilities. Jeannie feels if the parents are going to get their children back, they need to have these types of hands-on parenting experiences.

“After a little bit, the kids’ mom started coming to the doctor visits,” said Jeannie. “We could tell she really, really enjoyed being part of it. And she couldn’t understand why somebody was actually letting her come. She was very thankful. And she never asked for anything.”

The children’s mother had no idea that God was about to use Jeannie to help her meet the CPS requirements for her apartment to be considered ready, so she could take her kids back home.
“She works at a fast food restaurant,” said Jeannie. “That’s not a lot of money for her to be able to get her three kids back. And I started thinking, ‘she’s being set up to fail!’ She’s going to have to have daycare. She doesn’t have a car. How is she going to take care of these kids?”

Jeannie was determined that before the three toddlers went back home, their mom was going to have everything she needed, and more, to successfully keep them from ever returning to foster care. So she sent out the word, and help started coming in.

Some people, like Jeannie’s cousin and a foster mom in another city sent cash, others like her own parents purchased and donated needed items. But they all wanted to be part of “lovin’ on this mom.” Jeannie was able to collect a triple stroller, a car seat, high chair, three months of diapers and pullups, summer clothing, enough sheets, and blankets for three beds so the mom would only need to wash sheets once a week. And Jeannie gathered enough food to stock the young mother’s pantry to show CPS that she was ready to get her kids back.

“We all just wanted to be an encouragement to this mom,” said Jeannie. “So I got a card, put everybody’s first name in it, and put it in a Bible to give to her, along with everything we’ve collected. And I’ll tell her, when you’re feeling down or like you can’t to it, or that nobody loves you, I want you to take out this card and see that…’Ms Jeannie loves me…Ms Brenda loves me…Ms Brenda doesn’t even know me, but she loves me and my kids. James and Carol, who are they? I have no idea, but they love me and my kids, and they want to see me succeed!’”

On Monday, February 26th, Jeannie surprised the kids’ mom with all the donated items during a CPS visit. Jeannie said she was very surprised and very thankful. But the encouragement kept coming.

When the next step of overnight and weekend visits come, Jeannie told the children’s mom to send all the kids’ dirty clothes and sheets back to her, and Jennie would have everything washed when she returned to get the kids. When Jeannie presented the idea to CPS to get their okay, they said, “Sure! Nobody’s asked that before.”

“God is involved with every day,” said Jeannie. “From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep and the time in between. I’m praying for God to continue making a difference in this mom’s life as she’s about to get these three kiddos back, because I don’t want to see her kids come back into care. Hopefully I get to continue lovin’ on these babies and encouraging their mom after the kids leave, if not, I’ve got to just put it in God’s hands and continue praying for them.”

Jeannie is a single mom fostering with Arrow’s Arlington office. She currently has five children in her home, including her own eight-year-old son. But you wouldn’t be able to tell which child is hers by the way she spreads a thick layer of love on all the kids in her home. As she puts it, “They’re ALL my kids. Oh my gosh. They are all my kids!”