Building a Support Team: Matt and Teresa’s Story

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Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 10.46.35 AMBefore becoming foster parents in 2014, Matt and Teresa took time to build their support team which includes Teresa’s dad, Tom and his wife, Anne. Currently, Matt and Teresa are caring for an 11-month-old baby boy, nicknamed Espresso, placed in their home last fall. Espresso is their 2nd placement. Espresso’s half-brother, who was safely reunified with his father, was their first. Matt and Teresa are now big brother’s very involved godparents and planning to adopt Espresso in the next few months.

What was it like when Espresso first arrived?
Teresa: It was a new, precious and surprise gift to care for newborn Espresso. His older brother already had our hearts and the Lord expanded our hearts to love this new treasure.

Matt: It didn’t seem real. We weren’t planning on an infant but since he was our first placement’s brother we said yes. He is a little guy as precious as he can be. It’s the best feeling to get to love both boys.

Espresso is working at pulling up on couches and tables. What are you working at as foster parents?
Teresa: I am learning to put Espresso’s needs above my own and allow the love of God to freely flow through me.

Matt: Espresso is learning to talk, and we are figuring out what his “language” means as he grows his skills.

What do you love most about serving as foster parents?
Teresa: I love playing with and loving on kids. It’s also electric when the two brothers are together. I love the anointing for reconciliation of families, special bond the two brothers have, supporting the loving relationship older brother and his dad have and believing God for his restorative plan.

Matt: The best part is seeing the eternal impact I have on this child’s life. We are now in the adoption process which will allow us to keep on with that impact.

What has surprised you most on this journey?
Teresa: It has surprised me how you never know what’s going to happen. I never realized how flexible I was going to need to be! You may think a child is going to be placed with you and coming to your house, and then suddenly, they don’t. I’m not always in the know. Things change very quickly. At two other times, it looked favorable for us to adopt other children, but God had other plans. It has surprised me in a good way how in-control God is. He truly brought Espresso and his big brother into our lives. Every time we would receive a call for a child, we would pray for that child, and often God brought forward the child’s biological family. That left room for Espresso to be placed with us when the timing was just perfect.

Matt: It has surprised me how attached you become to those kids who don’t stay. We did respite care for a little guy, and my heart also has a connection to those who were possible placements. We still stop and pray for them. We don’t know the impact of our prayers but trust that they do have an impact in those children’s lives.

What kind of support have you needed as foster parents?
Teresa: I have needed a lot of childcare during my work shifts and appointments. Thankfully my dad and his bride, Anne, love these kids too! I consider Anne to be my spiritual mom. In fact, she was the one who prayed that I would meet my now-husband, Matt. Both my dad and Anne give us a huge layer of support. Matt, the boys and I are incredibly blessed by their love and commitment. We also receive much support and prayer from our support team which includes my two best friends.

Matt: We have certainly needed breaks for husband/wife time. We also appreciate input from Tom and Anne as they watch the boys. She helps us to see things we might not see on our own. We are blessed by support from my family as well. The boys have been considered part of the family from the day they arrived. There’s this family tradition of hand-made Christmas stockings and my great-aunt is making them for the boys.

Tom and Anne, what made you decide to be part of Matt & Teresa’s support team?
Tom: It was really Kathy, my first wife. When she was living, it was her intention to support Teresa and Matt when they had babies! Anne and I went through Project 1.27 at the same time as Matt & Teresa thinking we might foster. Now caring for kids placed with Matt and Teresa has become our part of caring for foster children.

Anne: I’ve always had a heart for kids and families-at-risk. I jumped from not having any kids to being a grandmother!

What are some kinds of support you’ve been able to provide?
Tom: We’ve been able to provide child care while Teresa is working. One of us is always available.

Anne: We took Espresso’s brother to visits with his dad. We heard him say, “My Da love me. He makes my heart happy.” We learned about the strong connections families have. We have a great relationship with that child and his father and are still part of their community.

What do you love most about being part of a support team?
Tom: I love how quickly the boys developed and recovered when they came into in a nurturing environment.

Anne: I love watching Tom's loving interaction with the boys and their pure delight when they see him. This is delightfully different from when I grew up.

How can we pray for you and other foster parents?
Tom & Anne: Please pray for strength and energy to love both kids as we care for them 20 hours a week.

Teresa & Matt: Pray that we continue to have safe, healthy and loving relationships with the biological family.

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