Katie Jennings Photography


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.