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Foster Care

I’ve written a lot about foster care on this blog over the years.

It’s something that I never expected to be a part of. As someone who attaches deeply to the children in my life, caring for children long-term with the intention of one day re-unifying them with another family is a daunting and heartbreaking task. I will never down-play the difficulty of this job or conceal the fact that I still really miss all the children I’ve loved who now live far away.


While there are many realistic concerns associated with foster care, I’ve never really felt like any of them could be used as an excuse to say no. One of the great privileges of life with Jesus is that we get to (as my friend Debi says) “be his friend” in the most painful and messy parts of our culture.

And one of the messiest parts of our culture is fatherlessness. Mine, yours, and theirs.

My own heart often reacts to my Father God (and even my community) with an orphan spirit. That just means that sometimes I forget to live life according to the truth that I am a loved and treasured daughter. Learning this about myself broke my heart for the double orphans in the world today – the ones who have temporarily or permanently lost their earthly parents and do not know they are loved by their heavenly Father. I long to introduce them to the security I’ve found as the daughter of my Heavenly Father.

Obviously the ideal place for these children in foster care is a two parent, long-term family situation, but often a season of healing in their lives is facilitated by having only one female parent-figure. Over the past 7 years, I’ve had experiences in foster care with children ages 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 month old twins, and 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,  and 11 year olds. Each was rewarding, heartbreaking, exciting, frustrating, and full of alternating peace and anxiety – but never without joy.

One of the things I love most about foster care is the way it taxes me beyond my physical and emotional capacity. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that without Jesus, I wouldn’t make it through a single day. Which is why, in the midst of still missing the children who are no longer in my life, in the midst of knowing it will be hard, in the midst of feeling frustrated with my own imperfections – I’m pursuing foster care once again. One of the best ways I’ve found to discover areas where healing is needed in my own life is to live it next to children who are healing, too.

As of September 2012, I’ve finished the training I need to be a therapeutic foster parent, but I’m working as a photographer and waiting until I have enough money to rent a home large enough to accept sibling groups and older children. It’s my hope that I will be able to support myself through photography (& my Etsy shop) alone, which would allow me more time to be home and invest in older children who may come into my life. In the meantime, I’m providing foster care to infants, which is a delight.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’re involved in foster care, I’d love to have you contact me! Sometimes this community feels really small.



For other posts I’ve written about foster care:

Learning to Trust

How to Love in Uncertainty

Jesus Knows How to Keep

The Promise

No Fear

Over & Over Again

Welcoming Baby A


  • Meag Hudson - Hi MJ!

    I haven’t followed the blog, just found it today. I am considering fostering and adoption.

    Are you unmarried? I ask because I am unmarried and am working as a “teaching parent” at a group home. I started very recently but already I feel that adoption is going to become a part of my story. I talked to friends and a few understand and a few think it’s a crazy idea, mainly because they couldn’t see themselves doing it.

    What do you think about adoption as a single young woman?

    Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Gwendy - So, I had to re-reply to this. When I first replied we had our foster kiddos only 5 months! Whoa, that’s been a long time ago! We are sitting at just over 3 years and will wrap up adoption on the 13th of this month! It’s been a very long journey and Praise the Lord our kiddos will gain perminancy finally!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Marie - I am also a foster parent! I’m glad I stumbled across your blog and can’t wait to read all the posts. My blog is

  • Elise - Thank you for sharing your journey. It is so encouraging to me to learn from someone who has walked a similar road. ‘m a college student and the Lord has made it really clear that foster care is where He is calling me in the near future. Looking forward to reading more from you!ReplyCancel

  • Dianna Denton Brown - You have such a gift of putting how I have felt and I know others feel who have had some experience with foster care. Would love to share my story with you someday! For his Glory:) ReplyCancel

  • Jenna Bostwick - Wow! I love your story and the courage that you have to love those that are unseen by most. I worked with orphans in Romania for a season before college and hope that fostering and or adopting children will be in my future. For now, my husband and I had our first child six months ago and it is such an amazing experience! I live in Mount Pleasant and I’d love to donate unused baby supplies to you. When the pain of letting go of a child comes back to me I remember that it is God’s love that He gives to us to love others and that He can heal my heart when it is time to let go. Blessings to you!ReplyCancel

  • Ruth - YES! it’s so true. the community does feel really really small. I am a foster mama! I have a 2.5 yr old girl and a newborn boy…both I have had since birth. they are siblings. and i’m feeling pretty weak today. SO THANKFUL to find your blog. bless youReplyCancel

  • Diane Shiffer - I’m very interested in the idea of fostering infants! At this stage of life (I’m 56yo) I really think it’s too late for me to be starting over with another child of my own, but I have oodles of experience, time and love to give. Plus being an adoptive mom myself it would give me great joy to release a little one I have cared for into her forever home. I’m curious as to how one can become connected to an agency that has need of parents to exclusively foster infants… and suggestions?ReplyCancel

  • Renee Henderson - I am so glad I found this blog. My husband and I are just weeks away from our first placement! Your blog is so encouraging and a reminder that He is in control. We will be getting children 2 and under and I am dreading the first time that one of these babies leaves our home.ReplyCancel

  • Kayelle Lindsay Elliott - Wow u are an amazing woman! Such an inspiration to find some way to help these kids. I would love to do this one day. I have a 3 year old and 1 year old right now but maybe one day I can do this! ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Hartwick - Hey! I’m a fellow single foster mom, and I love reading your blog. I relate to so much of what you have written. Sending a big hug your way!ReplyCancel

  • Alisa - I recently compiled a list of single foster and adoption blogs on my blog. From the comments, I realized I wanted to do more to connect people who’ve decided to jump into the deep end of fostering and adopting without a partner. This ( is my attempt to do that. So, my hope for this blog is to be so much more than a blog, I want it to become a large support network for single Mamma’s and Daddies all over the place.

    Please check it out and let me know if you’d like to be involved. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • jill - I’m not quite at a place where I’m ready to foster yet – 5 kids including a newborn – my life is very full at the moment ;), but my husband’s mom was in the foster system for many years and I definitely feel like it’s something my husband and I will pursue in the future. I have a question, though, do foster parents have any choice of age of children when fostering?ReplyCancel

    • Mandie Joy - Hi Jill, yes you can specify your age range when you go through the process to be a certified foster home. You sure have your hands full right now! I had 5 at once in 2011 (with a roommate) and it was quite a challenge. Blessings!ReplyCancel

  • Suzie Durdan Gormley - What a fun site. I’ve done foster care since 1987 and have adopted 7 of my previous foster children. God is good and I know this is our calling. ReplyCancel

  • Elaine Morales Acero - Wow you’re such an inspiring individual. Thank you for posting something so personal to you. It is extremely touching, lifting, and of great encouragement. God really is good ;).ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Hi,

    I’m also a single foster-mom. I’ve had infants, but never infant twins. 🙂

    I love the picture in the carrier!

    Don’t forget to check your area for mother’s of multiples support group…with your loads of free time (hehehe). Sure they have lots of great advice!


  • mstevens - MJ
    May God bless your journey. After 4 children my husband and I decided to adopt. ( I was adopted as well) after 1.5 years of pursuing private adoption and not seeing the ability to pay for it We decided to go through the classes to help do respite care or help as we could. Well, approved for one week, we had a little carseat show up close to midnight. The most gorgeous baby boy of six weeks. We just celebrated his first birthday and in about six weeks our adoption will be finalized!! We ministered to his young mother who was in foster care herself. Beautiful and sweet just needed a mother to look at her and tell her about Jesus. I will be able to tell him both of his mothers loved him and each other. My husband and I felt that if he would be our son we wanted him to know we loved him enough that we would do everything we could to see that his mother didn’t perish without Jesus. I am so thankful that we were obedient to the call. God bless you on your journey.ReplyCancel

  • Gwendy - Mandie,
    Found your site via Lara’s post. We are in our 5th month of our first placement. We are a foster to adopt home. We have been blessed with a brother/sister sibling group, waiting for term so we can move forward with adoption. Thanks for sharing and opening this up so we can see how many of us there are. We are in Washington as well and are using a non-profit agency called New Life Adoptions in Wenatchee. (we are not in Wenatchee though).ReplyCancel

  • Brianne - Mandie, I am in Washinton and we are licensed through a Christian organization called Youth For Christ. They have been amazing!!ReplyCancel

  • Brianne - I’m so excited to have found your blog!! I too feel like the foster care community is small at times. Praying that God provides for you so you can continue loving on his sweet children! You are such a beautiful testiment to God’s grace and love for others!! BrianneReplyCancel

    • Mandie Joy - Thank you for commenting and for your sweet words, Brianne. Where are you fostering, if you don’t mind my asking? Looking forward to reading your blog!ReplyCancel

  • Sami Brandon - Hi! I’ve been enjoying your photography from Every Bitter Thing for a good while now. I was excited to find your blog! We are Fost adopt home but we aren’t open quite yet… We are waiting for our baby to be a little less of a baby. Soon, though and I am excited about that!ReplyCancel

  • Leslie Patopoff - Found your beautiful prints which led me to here.. we have had our first placement and said goodbye and not waiting on our next…. your words totally relate so much, the mess, all of it. Thanks for sharig your heart.ReplyCancel

  • Natalia G. - Your story has blessed me so much. I’m only fourteen but I feel very called to serve the fatherless. I dream of working in orphanages in El Salvador (where my dad is from) and wherever else God calls me. I also want to foster children someday. Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring others out there to follow God no matter how daunting it seems. I look forward to reading more of your story and see how God blesses you and uses you. xx|Natalia


    • Mandie Joy - Natalia, I’m so glad to meet you here and know you have a heart for the fatherless. Blessings to you! [mj]ReplyCancel

  • Becky - I am definitely cheering you on from Chicago! Your words resonate with me and fill my heart with encouragement. I am a young, single foster parent and I am so thankful for this journey! I am excited to read about yours!ReplyCancel

    • Mandie Joy - Becky, so nice to know you here! I just love knowing that there are other single foster parents “out there”. So good to be in touch. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Mandie Joy - Thank you for taking the time to leave these encouraging words, Elaine. They were so nice to see after a VERY long day of fussy babies. ReplyCancel

  • Mandie Joy - Suzie, that’s awesome! I love knowing you’ve been in it for the long haul and are still joyfully moving forward. 🙂

  • Mandie Joy - Sami! This is so exciting! Congratulations! (and thank you for letting me know you enjoy my photography over at Sara’s blog. It’s so fun for me to share my pictures there. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Mandie Joy - Leslie, thank you for this. I’m grateful to know of other foster parents. It’s a kind of pain that’s hard to relate to unless you’ve experienced it. Thank you for being open to another…ReplyCancel

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