A Tangible Faith
Tim and Lisa Kelly had always known that foster care and adoption would be part of their story. “We got married a little later in life,” explains Tim. “We weren’t entirely sure we would be able to conceive, so adoption was an option that we talked about pretty early on. However, by the grace of God we were able to have biological kids.
“After our 4th child was born, we thought our family was complete,” says Lisa. “But then I wondered, Does it really have to be?”
Tim and Lisa were painfully aware of the huge need for foster families in the Austin area. “We kept hearing stories about kids having to sleep in CPS offices because there weren’t enough foster homes for them,” says Lisa. “We thought, You know, the Lord has really blessed us, so why not open up our home to foster care?”
Becoming a STARRY foster family was a decision that involved their entire family. With four biological children, Tim and Lisa knew that fostering would have an impact on both them and their kids. Their daughters, the oldest of the bunch, were excited about the possibility. Knowing that they would be the ones who would be expected to lend a helping hand and bear some of the responsibility of caring for the foster kids excited them. And the younger boys loved the idea of having a built-in play date! About a year ago, a sweet sibling group of two sisters was placed in their home through STARRY’s Foster Care and Adoption program.
“With foster kids, there’s often no real sense of normalcy in their lives,” says Tim. “But we’re much like a normal family – the kids get along well, but they also tattle on each other and take things from each other. They complain about having to clean their rooms and make their beds, just like every other kid does.”
When their current foster daughters arrived at their home, it was intended to be a brief weekend placement … but their circumstances changed and the sisters have stayed with the Kelly family for longer than was originally planned. “We were able to take them on vacation with us, where they saw snow for the first time on Mount Rainier and they got to see the ocean for the first time because we went to the Pacific,” says Lisa. “We hadn’t planned that our family of 6 would be a family of 8, traveling for vacation,” explains Tim, “but we made it work! We made memories for a lifetime.”
“Foster care is a hard tension to live in,” acknowledges Lisa. “Most people just don’t want to risk the pain or how it might affect their kids. But when we went into it, we felt like we had a strong, biblical coping mechanism in knowing that God holds the big picture.”
Tim and Lisa believe that opening their hearts and their home to foster care is a physical representation of the Gospel of Jesus. “It’s why we do this,” declares Tim. “This is a physical expression of how we take our faith seriously. This reinforces that living out your faith isn’t just a Sunday thing. It’s also Monday through Saturday. Serving others and sharing the Gospel makes faith much more tangible. We want our kids to know that Mom and Dad didn’t just talk about it, but that we are constantly trying to live it out well.”
“To those who much is given, much is required. We can tell our kids that until the cows come home, but it’s important to us that our kids see evidence of that in our lives,” shares Lisa. “Fostering is an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and we hope it impacts their way of thinking.”
While their family has grown to love the sisters who have been with them over the last 12 months, they know it will be difficult when the girls leave. “It was God’s purpose that we would be family for these girls for this year, but His purpose is also for them to be reunited with their biological family. We trust that He is in control and has the very best in mind for both these girls and our family, too.”