Life has not gone as I planned but just like those little lives that enter our home there is so much beauty in the brokenness of my story.  God is somehow using me and my family, ordinary people, to reveal his grace and desires to our community.

Born and raised in CA my childhood was far from the norm.  I was a child of divorce and remarriage.  A child of parents that were growing in age but still suffering in their own hurts. For many years I suffered in silence at my father’s hands.  Until that one day that changed my life…..the day when a random stranger spoke into my life and forever changed the direction that I was going.

People are often surprised when I share that I never wanted to be a mom, however the last four years we’ve said “YES” to over 27 kids in Josephine County foster care system, which on average has 350-450 kids in care at one time.  It’s amazing how the things that fuel your passion can be the things that wrecked your childhood.  As a survivor of abuse I had a firsthand experience of the positive impact that community can have on a life.

There are two important days in your life, the day you are born and the day you find out why.

-Mark Twain 

My husband, I and our two kids moved to Grants Pass, Or in 2009 to be closer to his family.  We look back today and are just amazed at how far our family has come and thank God for where he has led us.  I’ve always felt a connection to something bigger and when I became a Christian a few years ago and laid down my past hurts at our heavenly father’s feet he has continued to remind me he has always been and will always be with me.

After moving to Grants Pass my husband and I found ourselves getting very involved within our community and with that involvement God has led us to become foster parents within our town. God has grown our hearts for foster care and we love pushing others to listen to his call on their lives.

The Geronimo Project was birthed out of a women’s retreat I went on called Strike.  In a letter of prayer I received from the leader Gods word for me was Geronimo.  He wanted me to jump-straight into my fear and when I jumped into that fear it would be the thing that would set me free.

Everything about foster care is equal parts good and bad, joy and sorrow, beauty and brokenness.  I wanted to shine a light on our journey and what saying “YES” to foster care really looked like in our community and Southern Oregon so I started Geronimo Project

Geronimo-Project provides an inside view of what foster care often looks like.  Topics like why you can’t give your foster child a haircut unless approved by the caseworker to larger topics of what the adoption process and supervised visits might look like and the emotions for everyone involved.  Not all foster journeys are the same so we provide networking opportunities for foster parents to connect and network with other foster parents and community supports.  We also provide networking opportunities for community members to meet and connect with fosters to see how they can help. 

At this time there are minimal resources advocating for foster families rights and the children they serve in Oregon especially in Southern Oregon. As foster parents, legally we have no rights or say in what’s best for a child in our care.  While there are some programs that are trying to retain foster parents, many foster homes in Oregon close their doors due to exhaustion in navigating and surviving the system.  As a community member that’s scary to hear.  In the United States orphan care is a huge issue but we are privileged not to have orphanages on every corner.

Geronimo Project’s vision is to bring positive change to the foster care system in Oregon, while providing and support to foster parents and community programs. We want to share stories of redemption and hope in a transparent forum.  We want to share with the community ways they can serve foster children and families in ways other than opening their own homes. We want those that say “YES” to foster care know they are seen, heard and appreciated.

When we said “YES” to foster kids in the community we made the decision to close my business to allow me to focus completely on the needs of the foster children and begin sharing with the community what it truly looks like to be a foster parent.  There is a continued need for positive change to the Oregon DHS system. Unfortunately DHS is constantly in the news for not being held accountable and breaking their own policies.

When my family signed up to serve the foster children in our community, we learned firsthand how broken the system is.  Our first placement was with us for four years.  We rode the roller coaster of potential reunification with bio parents and the prospect of adoption at the same time.  On February 1, 2019 the state showed up unannounced on our doorstep and accused me of abusing our son.  At 2:30pm on a Friday afternoon the little boy we loved with all our hearts for nearly 4 years was taken from our home.  We were told we would never see him again.  We were told our adoption would no longer happen and we would no longer be foster parents again.  My two teenage bio children were still in school at this time and I had to beg the caseworkers to allow my children a few minutes at the DHS office to say their final goodbyes to the little boy they loved and called their brother.

I held strong to the “why” we signed up to be foster parents.  As a survivor of abuse and serving with multiple organizations that serve foster children, I knew positive change needed to happen. And it needed to start with people standing up to the system that for years tried to hush foster parents and ignored what they were walking through when they said “YES” to foster care. 

My family is my life and I have worked tirelessly to break free from and overcome my past trauma, which in turn has allowed me to advocate for kids in my community.

With the removal of my son I could no longer walk the fine line of being scared into silence. So I fought back.  I fought their policies, how they investigate allegations against foster parents and reached out to many community members to share what was happening.  I contacted state representatives, leaders at DHS at the state level, news media and utilized social platforms.  Lawyers advised us to walk away and not fight as we had no rights to our son and we couldn’t change the system.

Because of my push back, community support and willingness to share my story DHS was investigated and found to have not investigated what turned out to be a false allegation against us. Our son was returned to our care exactly a month after he was removed from our home. November 2020 our adoption was finalized and our son finally had his forever home. Since I started to push back and share our story there have been countless parents reach out and share about their own similar struggles with the foster care system They shared how their hope and desire to foster was soon met with fear and why it is hard to keep foster homes open in Oregon.

The state of Oregon talks about change, community awareness and support yet the areas that need it the most are often overlooked or get quick fixes that don’t work. Now is the time to sit down and discuss what is happening and how we can better support kids in foster care and the families that open their homes and lives to them

Thank you for reading, sharing and PRAYING!