I am in a wheelchair living with a disability called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, which is a rare genetic disorder that results in body framing abnormalities and dwarfism. I have had it since birth. Over my lifetime, I have slowly lost my mobility. But God gave me a heart for children who are hurting. About five years ago, my four great nieces and nephews entered the foster care system as a result of parental substance abuse. I was not able to physically take care of the small ones but Riley, a nine-year-old, is one I could try to help.
So he and I started our adoption journey through kinship care where a child is place with a family member or a relational close friend. I wanted to do whatever I could to try to get him in my home. The Department of Social Services recommended I first become a foster parent. I also tried to advocate for the other children. My adoption of Riley was finalized two years ago! My friends, the Guenthers, adopted Riley’s sister. The two youngest children were placed with other people.
Through my experience with foster care, I felt God calling for me to step into helping this very broken system but I didn’t know how. One day I came across the Returning The Favor show. The show was spotlighting non-profits. I saw the video about an Isaiah 117 House, which helps children transition to foster care by providing physical and emotional support in a safe and loving home for children awaiting placement. Typically, children sit in a Department of Social Services office awaiting foster care. But if they go to an Isaiah 117 house, children can get cleaned up, play, eat food and be loved on. I thought this is a real simple answer to a really big problem.
I sent the video to the Guenthers, and they, too, saw what a difference this house could make for kids entering foster care in Lynchburg, Virginia. They were all in with me on learning how to start an Isaiah 117 House. We went through an application process and were finally approved. Now we are in the process of building an Isaiah 117 House in Lynchburg and we are really excited about it.