This adapted excerpt from T. J. and Jenn Menn’s Faith to Foster (Abeille Books) recounts the story of “Casey,” documenting his time with the Menn family from arrival to departure and the aftermath. The Menns have welcomed 22 foster children into their home from multiple states across America, ranging in age from birth to high school. Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.
Casey came into state custody when his little body tested positive for drugs at birth. Otherwise, he would have gone to live with his parents under a bridge in a tent. Ironically, once social workers took him into care, Casey was homeless, too. He stayed in the hospital because case managers couldn’t find a home for a beautiful 3-day-old boy.
With the laundry still piled high from a road-trip with our three other children younger than 4, we took a call asking us to welcome Casey into our home.
After some discussion and prayer, T. J. and I told the case manager to call back if she couldn’t find a place for Casey. T. J. was literally working 80 hours a week and would be deployed to war within a week. Sure enough, she called the next day. God lovingly offered us an uncomfortable choice.
Within an hour Mrs. Meyer arrived. I greeted her at the door, scribbled a quick signature, and handed her the paperwork in exchange for a bundle of blankets. After she passed off a plastic bag of formula and hospital discharge papers, she left without a word of instruction. I hurried to the first chair I could find to unveil my new bundle.
The exchange was like signing for a FedEx package.
Peeling back the blanket revealed a precious face peacefully asleep. I can’t remember a thing I did that afternoon besides sit there and adore all five pounds of him.
Arrival in Joy
When Casey arrived, the wheels almost fell off the Menn wagon. Although I enjoyed caring for a newborn, Casey’s needs consumed a lot of my energy. And the needs of our other foster children didn’t diminish. Tamika barely toddled around and often lifted her arms for someone to carry her. Jasmine threw tantrums daily when stressed about getting dressed, exhausted after school, or confused about visitations. Darius raced through the house like every 3-year-old boy does.
I (T. J.) felt guilty and helpless accepting the responsibility of a newborn child, knowing I was leaving a few days later.
Departure in Sadness
When T. J. went to combat, I (Jenn) wept. My attention quickly shifted to the four children clamoring for love (and usually food). I operated at full speed while my counseling practice and other important tasks went on the back burner. I relied on the Lord’s promise that he would provide for all our needs.
When T. J. returned home it was still busy, only now Casey was chubby and we slept more. My day-to-day routine centered on nurturing and praying for children, anticipating and meeting needs—we shared life. We went to playgrounds and tied shoes and celebrated new teeth.