Jerry and Mary Royal’s road to fostering began in 2011 when their youngest child started kindergarten. They began to think “what next?”
“We literally felt a call to foster,” remembered Mary. “There are children who need a home and we have that to offer. Why would we not offer that for them?”
After only weeks with their first placement, a little girl named Kayla, they got a call saying it didn’t look like she would go home and would they be interested in adopting her. “We’re not special people, but we knew that we could give her what she needed most, a home and family” said Jerry. “Kayla had stolen our hearts from day one and we knew that the only answer was YES to us pursuing adoption for her if that was at all possible.” After a year and two months that calling came true for Kayla and the Royal family.
When the Royals became foster parents, they had no idea how much their world was going to change forever. “Sometimes I wake up and think, ‘I cannot believe we’ve adopted.’ I never dreamt we would add a fourth child to our family of five. We have three biological children aged 16, 13, and 10,” commented Mary.
Fostering has also been educational for the entire family. “Fostering taught our children to think outside themselves and see what real ministry looks like,” said Mary.
Not only is it important to have support within the family when fostering, but also from others– especially the church. Foster parents can’t just call a friend or neighbor to watch the kids while they run to the store or get a haircut because the care providers have to be certified, which takes time. The church and family and friends have been an integral support system for the Royals. “Our church has supported us the whole way, providing us with resources, clothes, time and love,” according to Jerry. “They’ve rallied around us and we are so thankful.”
Jerry also says that most people in their church had no idea there was such a huge need for foster parents. But when they become aware of the need, they stepped up to the plate. “Once our church saw what we were doing, some became foster parents themselves and others supported us,” he said.
When the Royals were starting their foster care journey, they came up with a motto to remind them why they answered the call: they want kids to look back when they’re 25 and say, “I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t lived with the Royals.”
There’s one lucky little girl who will be able to say that.
By Alyssa Rueter