'It was a calling': Family talks about journey through foster care to adoption

10/14/2016

HENDERSON, Neb. – Jeremy and Amy Janzen were listening to My Bridge Christian Radio when their hearts were inspired to pursue a journey into the world of foster care that would eventually lead them to welcome two, precious, adopted children into their home – Anna and Jonah.

“We were having a hard time starting a family and were pursuing our options,” Amy said.  “We then began our foster care journey by getting licensed with Christian Heritage out of Lincoln.  That was September of 2010.”

“Then we took our foster care classes at Epworth Village in York,” Amy said, explaining the family switched to Epworth Village in 2011.  “We wanted to have children in our home right away and from September to the following summer we invested our time with three boys we took into our home. We would have them on the weekends and on breaks as well. We would also do respite for families and then on May 1, 2012, is when Anna came to be with us and then another child, Jonah, on Feb. 28 of 2013.”

Amy explained that in addition to all the heart it takes to become a foster care parent, it also takes, “A lot of paper work, a home study and part of the home study are background checks through the state. There are also trainings and classes that are required. It takes at least three months with paperwork and classes to become licensed in our experience. Then you have to get re-licensed every two years.” 

“You have to be tough and caring at the same time,” Amy added. “Honestly, if God is calling you to be a foster parent, God will help you through it all. That doesn’t mean there are not challenges. But some days are the most rewarding ever.”

Amy said that foster care specialists like Hannah Miller, who helped them start their journey at Epworth, and Heather Hultgrien, who now serves as Epworth’s foster care recruiter and trainer, are helpful to families like them.

"I am also part of a Facebook page that offers articles and information and a connection to other foster parents who share ideas and offer suggestions,” she said.

Hultgrien said she has thoroughly enjoyed working with the Janzens,

“I have known the Janzens for about a year now, and I have a high level of respect for them," Hultgrien said. "They are a fantastic family to work with.  I can tell they truly care about the kids who have been brought into their lives. This family is a great example of what it means to be a foster/adoptive home.”

“All it takes to become a foster/adoptive home is the willingness to open your hearts and homes and to give your time selflessly,” Hultgrien added. “It is a time commitment, but it is worth the long hours of training, waiting for licensing approval and getting those calls looking for a place for children to go.  As a foster parent myself, I understand this all too well.  It is hard but nothing worth doing or having is easy.”

Currently, both Anna and Jonah have moved from foster status to their adoptions being finalized. Amy said it has been rewarding to make new memories with their children, “It is rewarding to see Anna and Jonah know Jesus and to give them a consistent life. We have been able to take Anna to Disneyland and to see the ocean and mountains. She has her friends here and the children are able to see our marriage is strong.”

“We simply want to help them have good lives and know they are loved. We look forward to seeing them graduate high school, go to college, maintain homes of their own and maybe have children of their own someday. We want to raise them to be people of character,” Amy said, noting the entire extended family has been very supportive of them.  “Both Jeremy and my parents love the kids as much as any of their grandchildren. They spoil them too. Our siblings are also very supportive and love having Anna and Jonah in our family.”

Jeremy Janzen serves on the Epworth Village Board of Directors, and he also has found foster care a rewarding experience.

“I did not realize the love for the children that I would have going into the foster care and adoption process," he said. "Now I cannot imagine life without them. It has been a blessing and a joy to care for the children we have come to know through the foster care system.”

Hultgrien said. anyone with questions on how to get involved in foster care can call any time at (402) 710-3650 or reach out via email to hhultgrien@epworthvillage.org.”

This story was provided by Kerry Hoffschneider.


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