Isaiah

 

Two years ago, Mandy and Doug announced to friends that they were going to be foster parents. Their license had been approved, and they wondered what “mystery kids,” as their daughter, Darian, called them, would come.

Would they get a boy or a girl? Maybe a toddler, maybe a middle-schooler? Would it be one child or a sibling group? Tomorrow or months away?

It was exciting to think about, but bittersweet too. Before cancer took 5-year-old Denny, their son and brother, a liver transplant from another child had extended his life. They knew, as they poured their hopes and prayers into saving Denny, that someone else was grieving the unthinkable. Their own loss would come two years later.

Now they were preparing their hearts to love – and possibly lose – a child carrying his or her own grief, and they wondered what it would be. Loss of parents, home, siblings, school? What else?

Their mystery kid, it turns out, is named Isaiah.

Born into foster care, Isaiah was living in his third home, heading to his fourth, on that November day when Mandy and Doug announced their plans to foster. They would become his fifth and final home – a permanent family for a boy who loves soccer, running fast, holiday decorating, raking leaves, and visiting the beach. Isaiah’s adoption was completed in May.


DeMikael

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun. Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

 

This is the scripture we used last year to introduce you to DeMikael. At that time, he was shopping for a bow tie (his first) and he wanted to get it right. After all, it’s important to look your best when addressing state lawmakers.

DeMikael came to us when a court counselor named Anthony Cobb looked at him and saw an individual with great potential. DeMikael was 16, strong but powerless, bright but invisible. He was a teen just beginning to believe the future could be bigger than the present.

When he moved into our transitional living home, DeMikael found people who believed in him and who worked daily to restore his belief in himself. That’s what DeMikael needed most and, once it was secured, there was no stopping him.

His accomplishments that year went far beyond anything he ever imagined for himself. He found the strength and courage to step away from his former life. He completed high school. He started a job, worked on a farm, and delivered Meals on Wheels. Then he did something few his age could do: He walked into the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh and addressed members of the North Carolina legislature, telling his story and what he hoped to accomplish. A few months later, having completed our program, DeMikael officially left our care.

We say it that way – that he “officially” left our care – because, even though it was time for him to step out on his own, he remains in our heart. In that sense, he will never leave our care. We will answer the phone when he calls, offer advice and support, and celebrate his milestones. And when something really big happens – such as graduating from Ordnance Corps training – those closest to him will board a plane and attend the graduation.

That was DeMikael’s most recent accomplishment. After DeMikael officially left our care, he enlisted with the National Guard. Soon he found himself at basic training. He called us during the summer for an update and, when we heard graduation was scheduled in September, Mr. Claude, DeMikael’s mentor from our transitional living program, made plans to attend.

DeMikael is back in Raleigh now, ready to start college in just a few weeks. He is a young man who continues to step out and do new things. We are so proud of him – and we know this is just the beginning.

 

Share some encouragement with DeMikael in the field below:


Tyanna

I was placed in foster care at age 10, but I didn’t know it at the time. I was told by my mother that my older brother, Tyson, would be taking care of me. I thought nothing of it because Tyson always took care of me.

It wasn’t until the social workers started rolling in that I began to understand what was happening. They sat us down and explained that the Department of Social Services was going to take my twin brother and me away from our mom. But before they could place us in a new home, Tyson stepped up and took us. As I mentioned, Tyson was always there as our primary caretaker, so not much changed in the lives of my twin brother and me.

But everything changed for him. Tyson was 21 – raising two 9-year-olds. He withdrew from school to care for us, and he was still trying to settle into his own life with his new job and new home.

We began to settle in, and it was becoming apparent that we were not going back with my mom. Tyson knew he wanted to keep us but he didn’t know how to go about it. Years passed without much help from DSS. Then, Tyson received a life-changing message from Michelle Kennedy, the adoption supervisor at Methodist Home for Children.

Michelle opened up a world of resources as she explained the options to Tyson and, as a result, he was able to adopt not only me and my twin brother, but my youngest brother as well.

Meanwhile, my brother set the bar for me by modeling a strong work ethic and family values. He progressed from a security guard at Duke Energy to cybersecurity at Red Hat to his current position as a Microsoft specialist for Lenovo (update: Tyson is now North American workforce business analyst for Lenovo).

Watching him excel in his work has always made me want to do the same.

The Hackley Education & Learning Program has been on my team for two years now and because of that, I am starting my third year at East Carolina University as a birth-kindergarten education major, with at a 3.7 grade point average. When I graduate, I will pursue a master’s degree in social work.

I am where I am today because of Methodist Home for Children. It will now – and forever be – a part of who I am.

The Hackley Education & Learning Program supports the higher-education goals of students who’ve been in our foster care, adoption, multipurpose, and transitional living homes. The program provides financial support and a dedicated mentor. 


Owen

Lessons in belonging
You need to know that you matter.

He is a teenager who captured the hearts of our staff. He had no place to go; he believed he had no one who cared. We showed him otherwise.

Meet Owen.

  • He is 17 years old.
  • His mother left him when he was 1.
  • Sometimes he lived with an aunt, but he spent most of his childhood with a guardian – the ex-husband of his mother’s sister (a different aunt) – whom he called “uncle.”
  • He came to our multipurpose home at age 16 for stealing his uncle’s truck.
  • His uncle is remarried, and Owen is no longer welcome in his home.
  • He gave our staff teacher a coffee mug and candy for Mother’s Day.
  • He discovered his own mother lived 15 miles away as he worked on a family tree project.
  • He wants to build a relationship with her.
  • He moved into our transitional living home last May to learn how to be independent.
  • For his birthday, we gave him a BMX bike.
  • He loves to read and keeps at least four books by his bed.
  • He earned his GED and forklift certification while he lived with us.
  • He worked hard in his first job at a fast-food restaurant.
  • He left us this spring and lives now with his 24-year-old cousin.
  • He doesn’t think his life is harder than that of other kids he knows.
  • He’s working at a bike shop, and he just got a promotion.
  • One day, he wants to go to college.

We will be here for him.


Jamie

On the eve of becoming an adult, Jamie shares 21 reflections about his life.

From the moment we met, Jamie has been part of our family. He was a teen then, wanting little more than to be in a good home, even a foster home. We had one for him and he grew up with Ms. Beverly’s family. Today, Jamie is living on his own, preparing for a day that is fast approaching – his 21st birthday.

1  College is harder than I expected.

2  I still call Ms. Beverly at least once a week.

3  Living alone is fine, but I am kind of lonely.

4  Some friends are seasonal and some are forever.

5  Making new friends means figuring out if they’re going to be there for you.

6  Ms. Cheryl is my mentor at MHC and she’s awesome.

7  When I think about the past it’s always been about what everyone did to me. Recently I’ve thought, “Maybe it wasn’t all their fault; maybe it wasn’t all my fault. It was a mixed group effort.”

8  Lying is one of those things that, if you do it, people just look at you differently.

9  My morality consists of loyalty, friendship, respect, honesty, and compassion.

10 I can be gullible. That’s my biggest flaw.

11 I thought college was for everybody, but it’s not.

12 I almost got arrested once and the hardest part was realizing I had disrespected people I love.

13 I think a lot about my life – how it could have been vs. how it is. I’m writing a book of poetry about these thoughts.

14 I can’t live on a path of destruction and anxiety and anger. I have to let the past go.

15 I’ve decided to think of my past more as a blessing than a curse.

16 Whatever my job ends up being, I want to make a positive difference in the community.

17 The best part about college? Making new friends.

18 It’s important to look at people for what they are instead of what they aren’t.

19 I’ve always been a people person. I try to get on the best side of everyone I can.

20 When you’re a kid, all you want is to be grown up. Now that it’s here, it’s really kind of terrifying.

21 The best part of turning 21? I’m alive and doing well.


Eli

Little King

Trish and Kyle King asked the question:
“Should we let Eli move to a new foster home – a home with a family that’s been waiting to adopt?”

Their daughter, 16-year-old Caroline, fired back:
“Why is this even a question?”

It was 2016, and 3-year-old Eli had lived with the King family in foster care for about five months. Social services had been working on a reunification plan with his mother, but it wasn’t panning out. Eli likely would be placed for adoption.

Trish and Kyle had four children of their own – Caroline and three boys, ages 11 to 14 – and no intention of adopting, at least not when they started fostering. Their plan was to help school-aged children with a safe, temporary home when they needed it. Trish worked in a middle school and saw the need; adopting would close their home to that need.

But there was Eli. Full of personality – smart, creative, funny.

Grieving losses he couldn’t understand – raging at first, breaking cellphones, dishes, coffee tables.

Loved – so quickly and unconditionally by the entire family that Caroline was right. The question was decided before it was asked.

He belonged with them.

Today, Eli is Trish and Kyle’s youngest child – a joyful 5-year-old, adopted brother of Caroline, 19; Nick, 17; Alex, 14; and Zack, 13.

Officially a King. Their “little king.”

We have family photos at mhfc.org/little-king


Liam

Love on legs: His sweet nature outlasts bitter beginnings

When Liam started kindergarten last fall, he met a classmate with autism. He knew his mother helped nonverbal children learn to speak, so he asked her for advice: “Mommy, Lauren couldn’t use her words today. How can I help her?”

The question was typical Liam, Ashley says. “He is love on legs.”

“He’s never met a child he does not know, he does not love,” she says.

“When he sees someone having a hard time, he wants to help. He is all smile, and he is all happy energy.”

Resilient, too.

Liam came from a home that wasn’t safe. He didn’t learn to walk and talk until he was almost 2½ years old. He had sensory processing issues, and he didn’t sleep for more than two hours at a time.

By the time he reached Ashley and Isaac, he’d lived in six homes. Kindness was second nature to him – but it was also a survival technique.

“I was his seventh mommy before his fourth birthday,” Ashley says. “And while many children will withdraw or lash out, his goal in life was to be a sweet child. The world was stacked up against him, and he took it all in stride.”

We have family photos at mhfc.org/liam


I wish you knew…

The assignment: Create a self-portrait and tell us about yourself.

Hertford home I’m proud I’ve been here because I feel that if I was still at home, I would be in more trouble. … I’m scared of the future when I get out on my own.

See more from Hertford


Specialized services  My dream is to be a professional football player. I also want to be a quarterback. People just laugh. They think I can’t do it, but I think I can do it. I want to make my family proud of me.

See more from specialized services


 Macon home I am A.
I understand why I’m here.
I say I’m awesome.
I dream about being a veterinarian.
I try to lose weight.
I hope to become a veterinarian. See more from Macon


Mary & Anna

When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you. – Proverbs 6:22

If we apply this verse to parenting, Michelle and Mark would probably suggest adding “when you fall, they will catch you,” because “Trust Fall” is their youngest daughter’s favorite game.

“Out of nowhere, she’ll just dive out of your arms,” Mark says. “And when you catch her, even if it’s upside down inches from the floor, she giggles and says, ‘That was awesome!’ ”

Pretty remarkable considering Anna and her sister, Mary, have many reasons not to trust.

This family came together a year ago when the girls were ages 3 and 4. Living with their biological parents was no longer an option – that home had become violent – and the girls had been in foster care for over a year.

They needed a long-term plan and Michelle and Mark were ready to adopt. The four met, the girls moved in; no one looked back. Eleven months later, their adoption was finalized.

Anna and Mary have a home today – and you had a part in making that happen.

Because of your gifts, Michelle and Mark had already gone through our rigorous training, and they knew how to love children through grief and trust issues. Because of your gifts, we already knew they would be the awesome parents these two girls needed.

Every day, we care for over 400 children who have sweeping and complex needs. Some, like Anna and Mary, are foster children in search of a home. Some have mental health diagnoses and developmental disabilities and need specialized classrooms and care. Others come through the juvenile court system and need a place to change their behaviors, catch up in school, and set new goals for themselves.

We receive every one of these children with God’s grace and we use all of our resources to guide, watch, and catch them. When you make a gift to Methodist Home for Children, you give children a home, a reason to trust, and the healing power of love.


Chad

Who do you see?
library assistant, jewelry maker, future coach –

Chad is 16 years old. He loves sports, and he wants to work in a helping profession.

Coaching is his dream job. Library assisting is his first step.

Chad came to our vocational education program last summer to work with specialist LaVerne Vick on his decision-making skills. When it was time for him to practice what he’d learned, LaVerne made an unlikely match for him. She called on Jeanette Richardson and Beverly Underdue – founders of the local public library.

In a town of 956 people, Jeanette and Beverly operate the library entirely on volunteer power, and they agreed to interview Chad for a position. A couple of weeks later, with their blessing, he started as the library’s new assistant – and he found himself reporting to a volunteer team of grandmother figures. “They were wonderful,” he says. “They understand me. I felt at home.”

For them, Chad inventoried and shelved books. He built tables and chairs. He hooked up the VCR and diagrammed the connections.

He helped children find books and toys. He helped elderly visitors work the computers.

He even helped the 4 p.m. jewelry-making class thread glass beads – and discovered his own knack for creating bracelets. He made one for LaVerne and for each of the library ladies as Christmas gifts.

Chad earned references for his next job, and he achieved what we wish for all who come into our care. He found his strengths – the best in himself – and he began to build on them. We are excited to see what Chad does next as he pursues his dreams.

See Chad and his mentors – together here