The joyful labors of a very happy home
|If you have enough love in your heart for a child who desperately needs it, please help a child find the way home. Youth Villages provides training and support for foster parents in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Learn more at youthvillages.org.|
Bobby’s day usually begins around six in the morning, preparing meals and getting the children and her husband, Johnny, ready for their day. To say her home is a whirlwind of activity for most of the day is an understatement.
For Bobby and Johnny, it’s a mission of sorts. They both had children from previous marriages, but their union was more than a simple marriage. It was the grand opening of their home.
“It wasn’t like ‘those are your kids and these are mine,’” Johnny said. “It’s all of us together. We’re all in it together.”
During the past four years, they’ve opened their home to more than 10 foster children, recently adopting three – Chase, 15; Jada, 8; and Joseph, 3. Both coming from abusive and neglectful childhoods, Bobby and Johnny decided their home was going to be a haven, a safe place for children who needed attention, care and love.
“I’ve always wanted to protect abused children,” Bobby said. “I wanted to help children who’ve been mistreated.”
Chase was removed from his home because of abuse and neglect. He was also physically and verbally aggressive. His first foster placement didn’t work well, but Bobby and Johnny were patient and Chase slowly transformed. He’s part of the family, and helps care for his younger sister and brother.
Joseph was born to a drug-addicted mother. He cried and wailed incessantly while his body weaned itself from the narcotics. He had to be soothed and held constantly. His sleep was erratic. Bobby and Johnny never wavered.
“We just held him and loved him,” Johnny said. “There wasn’t anything else we could do.”
There are no signs of those troubles now, as Joseph and his freshly cut Mohawk hairdo speed from room to room and down the hallway with his sister. He laughs and plays just like any other 3-year-old boy.
Bobby runs children to doctor’s appointments and other things. In addition to the adopted children, they’re still foster parents to three other children. She calls them all by pet names and maintains an unending supply of affection and energy. To nearly everyone who goes in and out their front door, they’re called Mamaw and Papaw. But there are still standards.
“Oh yes, we’ve got rules,” Bobby said. “We expect good grades in school, manners, and being respectful of adults and other children. They all have chores to do to help around the house. We expect them to mind.”
The children’s bedtime is usually around 8 in the evening. Bobby and Johnny end the evening cleaning and straightening up the circus of the previous 14 hours.
Most days, Bobby’s evening continues through to the wee hours of the next day.
“Having foster children is like this: It’s a lot of news, and it can be bad one day, good the next day and then great another day,” she said. “It’s a lot of work and you have to be flexible. But we love all of them. It’s difficult sometimes when they leave – you want them to go home to their families, but you get attached and you’re sad to see them leave.”
And then the next morning begins the daily routine. Bobby and Johnny said they’d take in more children if they could.
The children are safe. They’re loved. Most important, they’re happy.