Foster care and adoption had always been a part of Mindy and Aaron’s lives.
Growing up, Mindy’s grandfather told her stories about the children who had stayed in his family home during the Great Depression, and he fondly remembered all the Christmas cards he received from those kids later in life. Meanwhile, Aaron was adopted as a child and knew first-hand the positive impact that could make in someone’s life.
As they started their own family and raised two biological children, they had never thought of themselves as foster or adoptive parents. But that all changed, with some guidance from a sermon series at their church.
“The topic of the series was about why we are here, what our purpose is, and how we could use our gifts,” Mindy says. “It was about what you are doing that’s good in the world that you already love, and how you could do more with it.”
At the end of the series, an offering plate was distributed and everyone was asked to write down what they thought they could do more of. Mindy and Aaron both wrote their answer privately but as they sat down to lunch later that day, they told each other what they had written: providing foster care or adoption.
From there, they spent several months researching and considering whether it was the right fit for their family. In 2013, they decided to take the leap and become licensed.
Mindy and Aaron are now licensed to provide foster care and adopt children in need of forever homes, and they specialize in caring for sibling groups. When they first became licensed, they had their sights set on caring for two siblings at a time. But when a group of three came along, they decided to open their home to the kids. And when another sibling group of three needed a home, they knew they had the resources to support them.
Since then, Mindy and Aaron have adopted both of those sibling groups and in addition, they have provided foster care until another child could safely return to their family of origin.
“I’m shocked at my life right now. If you would have told me I’d be a mom of eight kids, I would’ve thought you were joking,” Mindy says. “We did not plan to be this giant family, but it’s the way it worked out for us.”
Over the years, Mindy says her favorite part of fostering and adopting has been giving and receiving love from the children and coaching the kids, helping them to overcome behaviors and build skills, then seeing them grow and demonstrate something they had learned from her.
But more work needs to be done to support Iowa children, and Mindy and her family are dedicated to sharing their foster care and adoption experience with others.
“There’s this negative connotation that these are going to be challenging kids. The children are not the challenge, they’re just kids like every other kid. They have traumas they need to work through,” Mindy says. “There are so many Iowa kids who need homes. Our state has kids who need places to go, and I believe this is an important thing we need to think about as a society.”
But it doesn’t just come down to foster and adoptive parents, Mindy says. It’s critical that churches, community groups, friends, and family join together as a support network and wrap care and resources around the foster and adoptive parents in their lives.
“The day you get a call for a foster placement, they could be at your door later that day. With one of my children, I didn’t have a car seat that day. And when you’re first starting out, it’s hard,” Mindy says. “Now, I’m able to borrow and give back and I have a wonderful group of people in my village who will help me.”