Summer 2024

Summer 2024

TITLE– WORKING

School is out for summer and many families are looking forward to weeks of family togetherness, fun and fond memories – it’s something you excitedly await each and every year. For the children here at Jonathan’s Place, family togetherness does not always hold the same excitement, which is why we strive to support only the most high-quality foster homes for the children in our care. The most important thing we look for in a potential foster family is people who are motivated and committed to providing a safe place, loving home and promising future for a child – not their race, background, or sexual orientation. In fact, Jonathan’s Place was the first agency in Texas to receive the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children All Families Seal of Recognition, a certification that promotes LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies.

This summer, we wanted to highlight just a few of the amazing foster families that Jonathan’s Place has been able to count on – and all the ways we are able to support them, thanks to the generosity of donors like you!

From the time they got married in 2017, Matthew and Bryan knew they wanted to change the world in some way. Matthew says they were both fortunate to grow up in great families, but they were aware that wasn’t the reality for all kids – and so they thought fostering might be a good way to, as he puts it, “change the world, even if just for one kid.”

But as they began their search in 2018 for agencies that would license a gay couple, they were soon discouraged at the lack of inclusivity they found. It wasn’t until one of Matthew’s coworkers gave him a brochure for Jonathan’s Place that they thought they might have found the right fit.

“They were explicitly marketing themselves as inclusive of LGBTQ couples, which was a signal to us that maybe they really were accepting,” Matthew says.

After attending an informational meeting and getting the chance to meet the Jonathan’s Place staff, the couple knew they’d found the right place. They jumped right into the licensing process, and just 8 months later, in August 2019, they had their first placement – two amazing little girls, ages 3 and 4. The siblings’ parents had domestic abuse issues, as well as substance abuse. The girls had seen a lot of violence and were nervous to even hear someone raise their voice.

Matthew says that the training provided by Jonathan’s Place helped them deconstruct their expectations and be open-minded to the multitude of factors at play for children in foster care.

“We knew we were excited to welcome our first placement, but Jonathan’s Place provided resources to help us remember that these girls don’t know us, they’re most likely terrified, and they have to learn to trust us,” Matthew explains. “Even if we’re nice and kind, the kids still have to get used to a new environment, a new set of people, and a new school and church. Putting ourselves in the kids’ shoes helped us remember how tough it is for them.”

And in those challenging moments, the couple have felt immense support from the Jonathan’s Place caseworkers, who have been on hand for everything from bringing a happy meal over, to helping to make sure their house was always well-stocked with age-appropriate toys that reflected the kids’ interests. The first time the pair welcomed two boys into their home, that meant picking up some spider man soap for bath time.

As Matthew says, “Even the small things, they really make a difference in helping the transition be as seamless as it can be.”

Since becoming foster parents in 2019, Matthew and Bryan have had the opportunity to foster seven children. Two years ago, they officially adopted a five-year-old boy, and late last year, they finalized their second adoption, ensuring that these once neglected and timid brothers now have a forever home where they can continue to learn and grow.

Your giving ensures that Jonathan’s Place can provide this type of support for foster parents offering a safe, loving home to children who have been abused or neglected. And Matthew wants you to know just how far your gifts go.

“Please let the donors know their money is used very responsibly, and in a way that lights up these kids’ lives,” he explains, pointing to a framed photo of Santa dropping down from a helicopter at Christmas time as one example – one way we strive to bring holiday magic to kids during a particularly challenging part of the year. “Jonathan’s Place has made a huge impact on these kids’ lives, forever.”

In 2020, Paige and Elliot first began their foster home process with Jonathan’s Place, a journey that Paige says “would change their lives forever.” After months of training and home studies, they became fully licensed foster parents in February 2021. Little did we know the incredible impact this organization would have on our family.

In the time since, they opened our home and hearts to 16 beautiful children from hard places. They fostered 5 sibling groups, providing them with a loving, nurturing environment during their time of need. Additionally, we offered respite care for 5 other children, giving their foster families a well-deserved break.

The children who came into our lives ranged from just 3 months old to 11 years, each with their own unique stories and challenges. It was a humbling experience to witness their resilience and strength in the face of adversity.

While the journey was filled with immense joy, it did not come without its own set of struggles. Caring for children who have experienced trauma is a delicate and demanding task. But through it all, the team at Jonathan’s Place was our unwavering support system.

Their professionalism and adherence to the highest standards were truly remarkable. Our case managers became like family, guiding us through the ups and downs with compassion and expertise. They were our lifeline, ensuring the well-being of both us and the children in our care.

Despite the challenges, Paige & Elliots hearts swelled with pride as they witnessed each child’s progress. After spending anywhere from 6 months to a year with us, all of the children they fostered were able to reunify with their families – a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved.

As they reflect on our journey thus far, they are filled with gratitude for Jonathan’s Place and the incredible impact they’ve had on our lives. They’ve not only facilitated our ability to provide a safe haven for children in need but have also enriched our lives in ways we never could have imagined.

Mollie and Kristin were newly dating in 2017 when they attended a local Pride event where Jonathan’s Place had a booth. It was early on into their relationship, but the information they received from us that day started a conversation around foster and adoption that would continue to simmer as their love grew.

“It tugs at you that there are all these kids that need help. It seemed like such a great thing we could do to help out – we thought, we have the means, the love, the support, and there are kids out there who need it,” Mollie, says, describing their motivation.

A few years later, they decided they were ready to take the plunge and became certified foster parents in 2021. Much like for Matthew and Bryan, Kristin says things moved very quickly after that – they had their first placement, an almost 3-year-old boy named Riley, in just a few months.

“Riley had lived a lot of life in his first two years. He was also very loving and cuddly. Thanks to the TBRI training (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) we received through Jonathan’s Place, we were able to help him through the challenging moments, teaching him how to regulate his emotions, and that this was a safe place,” Mollie says as she remembers those first few weeks and months as new foster parents. Today, Riley is 5, and is thriving at school and at home.

When the couple found out last year that Riley’s half brother, Liam, had been born into the same challenging situation that Riley had and was in foster care at just a few months old, they decided to act fast – and requested his sibling be placed in their care as well. This request was granted, and the siblings are now growing up together. Mollie and Kristin have a Petition to Adopt in both cases, and are expecting finalization within the next couple of months – hopefully just in time to spend sunny days at the neighborhood park together all summer long.

As Mollie and Kristin describe the amount of effort that goes into the foster and adoption process, they emphasize how many people are working together to help ensure that these kids who have experienced so much are taken care of.

“Everyone involved is a hero, all doing such good work to protect these kids,” Mollie says. And that includes you, because none of this would be possible without your financial support!

SHARE