Real Moms of the Metro—Meet Jennifer Abney: Nonprofit Director & Foster-Care Advocate
Jennifer Abney of Edmond is a transplanted Texan who feels like she has always lived in Oklahoma. She dedicates her time to helping foster children in Oklahoma County through her nonprofit organization, the Angels Foster Family Network. As Executive Director, Jennifer manages this fast-growing program, which she anticipates will double in size this next year. Learn how this 45-year-old mother of two (daughters Desi, 8, and Kate, 6) has turned her passion for helping children into a successful organization and how she strives to live within her own five-mile bubble.
What are you passionate about?
I am most passionate about children—my greatest joy is making a child smile.
How has motherhood changed you?
My husband and I waited 12 years to become parents. Being a mom has completed me in so many ways. It has pushed me to advocate for children and be more compassionate to those around me.
How do you banish stress?
Just after the girls go to school and before I head off to work, I enjoy the quiet house and a cup of coffee. I also live in a great neighborhood, filled with the most amazing women. We laugh, cry, pray and solve the world’s problems. I think friendship and a good sense of humor are the most critical aspect to a happy life.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by my mother and strive to be like her every day. She has taught me through her actions that you can gracefully move through life doing generous things for everyone around you. I hope my daughters learn that gift from me.
Along with your job as a mom, what do you do?
With the support of my family and friends, I have taken my passion for children and started Angels Foster Family Network in Edmond. We recruit, train and support foster families with whom we place foster children from Oklahoma County.
What do you like most about your job?
I love working with families and helping them to understand what fostering a baby is all about. It’s a hard job to be a foster parent, but one of the most rewarding. I love the feeling I get after every placement. Seeing a young child’s face when they meet their new family, and knowing that we, at Angels, helped with their journey puts everything in my life into perspective.
What is on your wish list?
I wish for my daughters to have a blessed and fulfilled life. I hope they learn all the lessons that I did, and that I will have the gift of being in their lives as long as possible.
What are you most proud of?
At home, I am most proud to see my children get through certain struggles, and conquer their fears of new tasks. At work, I am most proud of our volunteer program, Project Lullaby, an after-school mentoring program for elementary-age children.
What motivates you?
Making others happy.
How do you find balance in your life?
I try to keep everything I do (home, church, shopping, school, dentist, doctor and volunteering) in my imaginary bubble. I can accomplish more things every day if I keep everything in my five-mile radius.
Advice for other moms?
As a new mom, find a playgroup for your little ones as early as 4 months. Moms can be a huge support for each other. My best advice is to learn how to laugh at yourself and the situations that come your way each day. Lastly, be sure to add in time for you and your husband each day to talk and stay on the same page. Cohesive parenting makes everything better.
Where are you from originally? What brought you to Oklahoma?
I was born in Dallas and lived in Houston for several years. My husband’s job took us to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and San Diego before we landed in Edmond five years ago—where we plan to stay!
What’s the biggest challenge in your life?
Exercising. I have the best intentions, but never seem to fit it in.
What is your parenting style?
I’m very patient. I try to really hear what my kids are telling me, since sometimes what a child says isn’t what they really mean. When they do something that angers me, I try my best to stop, think and then speak.
Favorite quote or advice about motherhood?
“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world and its destiny.” ~ W. R. Wallace
Quick Facts About Jennifer
- What are five words that describe you? Joyful, compassionate, creative, resourceful, efficient.
- What’s on your playlist? Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Jack Johnson, to name a few.
- What’s your favorite TV show? The Good Wife, Modern Family, Up All Night.
- How do you spend time alone? Surfing on Pinterest, gardening and organizing life’s next event!
- What’s your guilty pleasure? Almond Joy Coffee from Cowgirl Coffee on Sorghum Mill Road.
Brooke Barnett is the Assistant Editor of MetroFamily Magazine.
[Editor’s note: visit www.angelsfosterokc.org to learn more about the Angels Foster Family Network.]