A handful of Oklahoma City men and women have generously agreed to give our readers a peek inside their lives as foster parents. From single parents to large families, our bloggers come from a variety of backgrounds. They all have big hearts for children and we can't wait to share their struggles and successes with our readers. Get to know them here.
Carrie Tanner is a stay-at-home mom of five (plus four dogs!). Her husband Zach was introduced to Angels Foster Family Network in May 2011. Just eight weeks later, they had their first placement. After caring for their foster son for 18 months, he was able to return to his biological family.
They were later placed with a sibling group of two that has grown into five. They adopted all five kids in June and are happily soaking up the feeling of being a forever family. Carrie will be sharing her unique perspective of taking on a large sibling group and a foster situation turning into adoption.
Keith & Staci Howard are the fearless leaders of Howard Party of 8. In college they talked about adoption, mainly because it was cool and sexy to act like they were one day going to save the world. Little did they know, saving the world wasn't in the game plan, but having their world flipped upside down by foster care was about to come down the pipeline. Today they are the parents to six amazing kids. They jacked up birth order, agreed to an open adoption and have generally lost their minds! For their day jobs Staci is a stay-at-home mom and Keith has the privilege of overseeing Circle of Care's foster care program throughout Oklahoma. Staci keeps all the kids alive and headed in the right direction and Keith jumps out of closets and tells them scary stories right before bedtime. More importantly, in their free time they love to encourage other foster and adoptive parents on this wild and crazy journey.
Jay Smith is the associate pastor at New Covenant United Methodist Church in Edmond. Jay said his foster journey began after spending years surrounded by other families living out the call of James 1:27 "to care for the orphans and widows in their distress." He and his wife decided to become foster parents in the summer of 2013. They had their first placement in February 2014.
After 17 months with their foster son, they adopted him this summer. Jay and his wife have a heart for the fatherless that comes from a desire to make a difference in the lives of children. Jay will share his perspectives as a dad and the background and experiences of his wife Natalie and son Andrew as they navigate life together.
Judith Cope is a foster care recruiter and trainer for Sunbeam Family Services in Oklahoma City. Aside from her professional work in foster care, she has served as a single foster parent for more than three years. Judith believes the most rewarding part of serving as a foster parent is supporting the reunification efforts of children with their biological families and continuing a relationship with a children after they return home.
Judith began her career in the non-profit sector at Infant Crisis Services in outreach and communication. She is a graduate from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Community Health.
James Hunt serves as the senior pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Guthrie. He loves serving Jesus by serving God's people. He also enjoys spending time with his wife of more than 20 years as well as his four children. You'll find him just as comfortable in the office deep in thought as he is at a rodeo. He likes boots, jeans, and state park trips with the family. His dream car is actually a 1968 truck. His favorite bicycle is one with a big motor. Of course, he has neither a motorcycle nor an old truck. But a guy can dream, right? James will be sharing his experience adopting children through OKDHS.
Jenn Morris is a freelance writer who believes it’s her mission to help people tell their story. When she’s not writing about the messiness of life at Fumbling Towards Friday, you can find her wrangling children like a boss. As a mom of five, including biological children and foster children, she’s seen it all. She’s fueled by coffee, strong sarcasm and a diehard belief that everyone’s story matters. When not breaking up fights or cajoling someone to “just try the carrots,” she can be found hanging out with her husband, who understands her special brand of crazy. She'll be sharing her unique experience raising foster and biological children with us here on this blog.
Ariel Austin is a stay-at-home mom of two. She freelance writes in what free time she gets (which isn’t much) to help keep her sanity. If she isn’t chasing around her kiddos or writing, her nose is buried in a book. Ariel loves to read anything she can get her hands on.
In November of 2012 her family received their first placement of a sibling group of two. After two long years they were finally able to adopt that same sibling group and create their forever family. Ariel has become an advocate for foster care and is always willing to share her experience with fostering and adoption to anyone who will listen.