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Carolyn’s story: A gift of love

15 June 2017 Stories of hope

"Life changed for Carolyn 30 years ago. Standing in the kitchen with her two children at the time, she heard a call on the radio for foster parents. She was inspired and challenged. “I knew I liked staying home and looking after kids, so I thought, ‘that’s something I could do’,” she said.

Three decades later and Carolyn has since cared for more than 60 children—as well as raising six children of her own. Those foster care children have ranged from babies to six-year-olds. Some of the babies were drug addicted.

“I didn’t plan to foster so many children but felt like I had a gift for caring,” she said. “And God expects us to use our gifts.”

Carolyn has cared for more than 60 childrenIt hasn’t been easy and has required the whole family to pitch in. Many of the drug-addicted babies that Carolyn and her family have supported have required 24-hour care. “It’s a hard few months for a baby getting off drugs,” Carolyn said. “There are a lot of symptoms of addictions such as temperature spikes, high pitched screams and vomiting.” In such cases, the whole family has had to pitch in, with even her children taking 15-minute shifts to rock babies to sleep.

Carolyn said her family has been affected greatly. “There were times when my own kids probably resented having a baby in the house that was so needy,” she said. “We’d go to the park and the baby would need to go home for a rest. So, we’d all have to pack up and go home.” Carolyn said that the experience has made her children more resilient. “It’s meant that all of them have a very realistic picture of what it is like to have a new baby come into your life,” she said. The whole family cries when each foster child leaves due partly to the pain of separation but also the knowledge that some of the children are going back to difficult circumstances.

For Carolyn and her family, the benefit to the children is obvious. However, underneath this Carolyn does it as a response to God’s call to help those in need. It’s an edict of love that speaks directly to her heart. A line in a hymn, “break my heart for what breaks yours” resonates with her.

“How do you love someone a little bit?” she said. “For me, it’s all or nothing.” Carolyn said her faith is strengthened by the role she plays. “I have a strong feeling that God wants me to do this.”