When we arrived at Karen and Rob’s house to begin our portrait session, we were greeted at the door by Alex, a cute five year old and the oldest of three young brothers Karen and Rob had been fostering for a little over a year.
Alex smiled, invited us in and acted like he’d known us for years. We followed him into the living room where Karen and Rob were busy dressing and rounding up the other two boys. Noe, the youngest of the three, was crying, and Karen was busy consoling him from one room to the next while trying to hold a conversation with us.
Junior, the middle brother, ran through the living room just long enough to politely smile and give us a “once over” and then quickly left to help Karen with Noe. From a room in the back of the house, Karen called out over Noe’s crying to fill us in on the fact that each of the boys had been sick with a cold during the week and Noe was still a bit under the weather.
As we waited for them to get their crew together, I noticed the coffee table covered with several small pairs of pants and shirts where Karen had been folding and organizing them earlier. The mantel and shelves along the wall displayed snapshots of the boys at different times during the past year.
I was in complete awe. Karen and Rob by nature love children. They work with them daily, but seeing them interact with these three boys as a mother and father genuinely moved me. I was moved by how real their affections were toward each of the boys and how receptive and appreciative each child was toward the two of them.
It sounds so cliche to write this, but while they were busy completing the mundane tasks of gathering coats and wiping noses, I could actually feel love radiating in that house. It was a bit overwhelming. These children who were strangers to them and without parents over a year ago were now a part of a warm and loving family.
By the time we were on location shooting, Alex and Junior had really warmed up to us. They were both trying to hold either my hand or Mike’s hand while we were walking, but Noe continued to keep his distance. For much of the shoot, we let them all run and play and tried to capture them just being kids. By the end of the session, Noe was laughing and playing along with his brothers and flashed a smile our way from time to time.
It would be impossible to be around these three and not fall in love with each of them. I was pretty sad when the session was finished and we had to leave.
I wanted to share some of Karen’s thoughts about the boys, so I asked her to share a little about each of them on our blog. Here’s what she had to say:
“…They are our dreams come true. I don’t know how much you want to tell but honestly I believe God was preparing me for these boys before I even met Rob. I know in my heart that they were supposed to be mine and that this is what God planned for my life. Not just fostering, but these three boys. From the very first day they walked through our door they were ours. I don’t know what I would have done if things didn’t work out the way they did (although I believe God would have had that worked out as well).
“Alex, is our precocious “Rambling Pizza Man” as Rob’s father calls him. He doesn’t know a stranger and is completely loving and forgiving of everyone. He has a fantastic memory (a blessing and a curse). Alex is always on the go…he’s like the Energizer Bunny until he winds down and then he crashes. He is the BEST big brother in the world! He has a heart of gold and has a smile that lights up the world. Alex is the definition of resilient and won our hearts within seconds of meeting him.”
“Junior, is the perfect mix of hard and soft. He is tough and stubborn, but his feelings are easily hurt. He is charming and wins everyone’s heart. Junior is determined – which we hope pays off in the long run! He is a hard worker and always willing to help out. Junior goes hard but will sit and look at a book or television with the same amount of intensity. He will challenge you. He is loving and sweet. Junior is a night owl and often out lasts both of us!”
“Noe, is the baby I never had but always wanted. Even though he was walking and feeding himself when he first came to live with us, he has fulfilled every need for love and affection that I have ever had. Noe is a snuggler and just when I think he is Mommy’s boy he begins asking for Daddy all of the time. He is a simple boy. He loves a ball or a balloon. Nothing else required. If there is a ball within his reach then it is in his hand. We hope this also pays off one day in the future! Noe has come the farthest in the year he’s been with us. He’s grown from a baby to a little, active boy. I wish I could slow down time and capture every moment with him on video to watch forever! (But he moves too fast for me to get that done). I want to say he has captured our hearts the most but I think I wanted to write that as I wrote about each of them.”
“I just want to capture every moment with them so I don’t forget a single one.”
As of December 11, 2012 these three boys are officially Rob and Karen’s children or as Karen put it: “ours forever.”
Here’s some interesting information I found on foster care in the U.S.:
*Currently, there are approximately 425,000 children in foster care in the United States. It’s estimated that 115,000 are eligible for adoption.
*Median age of child in foster care: 8.1 years.
*The average child in foster care goes through three different placements and stays in the system for about 30 months.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent and eventually adopting here is a place for information in North Carolina:
You can also read more about this family’s adventures on Karen’s Blog (The Wrecking Crew) where she talks about her experiences as a new mother of three.