Bradley and Kelly Johnson felt compelled to become a foster care family, but were uncertain, from a practical standpoint, how to make it a reality. The couple’s schedules stay busy with Bradley serving as senior pastor of Newfound Baptist Church in Leicester in addition to his and Kelly’s commitments to their four biological children.
Turning to the EVERY CHILD Foster & Adoption Ministry, a partnership between Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), made the training and licensing process possible.
“Having four children of our own, we would not have been able to go out every week to a special training facility,” Kelly shares. “The neat thing about BCH is they send a trainer to our home.”
As the Johnsons went through the process, they continued to learn more about the vital need for foster care families. In North Carolina alone there are more than 16,000 children in the state’s foster care system.
“We didn’t realize there was such a huge need until our training,” Bradley shares. “It was then we realized that there were children all around us needing foster care.”
Once training and licensing was completed, BCH case manager Michelle Kagan was assigned to help the family with their placements. It wasn’t long before Kagan called and asked if the Johnsons would be willing to foster two young sisters. The couple agreed.
“We brought the girls into our home, and they adapted beautifully. You could tell their momma had done a really good job raising them and teaching them,” Kelly explains. “Their mom just needed some time to get back on her feet.”
The Johnsons were unsure of how long the sisters would be with them, however, their time together ended sooner than anticipated. In the sixth week of placement, the Johnsons received a call that the judge had ordered the girls to be reunited with their mother that day. At that same moment, the girls were already on a scheduled visit with their mother meaning they would not return to the Johnson’s home.
“We didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye,” Kelly tearfully shares. “We always knew they were going back to their mother; it was just such a heartbreaking thing not being able to celebrate with them that they were getting to go back home.”
“We were grieving that loss,” Bradley adds.
The Johnsons took two months off from fostering to recover emotionally. Not long after their respite ended, Kagan called about a baby needing foster care. Again, the Johnsons opened their home, and hearts, to this child in need.
“As before, it’s been a beautiful thing for our family,” Kelly says.
“I think if we had not partnered with Baptist Children’s Homes, we would not have even attempted a second placement because the way the first one ended was so tough,” Bradley said. “Thankfully, BCH stepped in, and our BCH case manager helped us walk through this.”
Kelly agrees. “Michelle said God has called us to do this for today. You have this child for today. So you love her, care for her and give her everything she needs for today.”
Despite hardships, the Johnsons are undeterred and have leaned on God.
“I think you need to go into foster care realizing that it is a messy situation, and it is incredibly hard, but it is worth doing,” Bradley shares. “God has blessed us and helped us by His grace. We can’t imagine not doing this.
“We tell everyone if you are considering foster care, consider going through Baptist Children’s Homes.”
To learn more, watch testimonial videos or to set up an information meeting at your church, visit every-child.org or call 1-800-476-3669.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Blake Ragsdale is director of communications for Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina.)