When Regina Harris learned that her 16-year-old niece Tiffany Whitefield was pregnant and being asked to leave her father’s house, she felt compelled to step in. By opening her heart and her home, Regina became the forever foster mother that Tiffany needed at just the moment she needed her most. In nominating Regina for MetroFamily’s 2014 Awesome Mom Contest, Tiffany wrote: “To take on a teen with a baby is a lot, and at that time, Regina also had two kids of her own. If it wasn’t for Regina I would have been on the streets and who knows where now. She supported me so I could get through high school and graduate.”
Taking on Tiffany
When Regina learned of Tiffany’s pregnancy and found out that Tiffany had to leave her home, she immediately offered her home and support. “I don’t even think I asked my husband!” Regina giggles. But she says her husband David, an oil field worker, was right behind her. “There was never a hesitation with him,” she explains. “We just knew it was the right thing to do. Family is supposed to be there for each other.”
Today, at age 29, Tiffany recalls how Regina has always been a pillar of support. “I lived at Regina’s house. She was there for me at the hospital when I delivered [my baby], when my parents weren’t,” she explains. Through tears, Tiffany gratefully expresses, “I just love her, because if it wasn’t for Regina I would be on the wrong path right now. She took me in her little house, even though she had a tiny teeny little house.” Regina, David and their daughters Hallie (now age 21) and Hanna (now age 16) made room for Tiffany and her soon-to-be son, Mark (now age 13), in their 900-square foot home. “We can laugh about it now,” says Tiffany. “But she helped me raise Mark for a year and a half. She showed me how a mom is supposed to be, how you are supposed to have unconditional love and how to be a Proverbs 31 type of wife. She just cares about everyone and is always there for anybody who needs her. ”
Because of Regina’s generosity and guidance, Tiffany went on to graduate from high school. Tiffany fully credits Regina with making it possible for her to keep the baby that she would have been forced to otherwise give up. Tiffany has since gone on to take college courses and secure a good job at a local bank. In addition to Mark, she and husband Ryan have two more children, Maxx (age 6) and Maylee (age 2). Tiffany feels she became a happy and successful person and mother all because of Regina’s support.
Taking on Life
Regina and David have continued to open their home in Bridge Creek to those in need. Together they have fostered and now adopted five more children: Eli (age 20), Brittany (age 19), Albany (age 12), Amaya (age 10) and Jake (age 10). “Fostering was something we knew we always wanted to do,” Regina says. “We just wanted the timing to be right. We wanted to spend time with our [biological] girls and for them not to feel like we took anything away from them before we adopted.”
Although her children keep this stay-at-home mom’s life very busy, Regina does find time to pursue her own passions. Recently, Regina has had a significant weight loss and discovered a love for running. She enjoys growing vegetables in her garden, spending time on a tractor and the smell of fresh dirt. She also enjoys finding a good deal at a thrift store or a garage sale.
“No one can stand next to Regina on the things that she has done for others,” Tiffany concludes. Regina humbly replies, “You do what you have to do. That is what family does.” She adds, “You don’t have to have a million dollars and you don’t have to have a bedroom for everybody. It’s just love. That’s all you have to have.”
Here’s more about how this 44-year-old mom shares the love:
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I used to weigh almost 300 pounds.
What are you passionate about?
How has motherhood changed you?
It has made me a selfless person and has taught me patience.
How do you banish stress?
I run every morning at 5:00 am.
What is on your wish list?
I’d love to run an orphanage.
What is the biggest challenge in your life?
Making sure I have instilled enough morals and values in my children’s lives that when they are older, they will make good decisions.
What are you most proud of?
My marriage of 21—almost 22—years.
Advice for other moms?
Take one day at a time and never go to bed mad.
How do you find balance in your life?
A good cup of iced coffee and a big calendar on my pantry door, with all the important dates written down.
How do you help others?
I enjoy cooking for others. When someone I know has had surgery or a baby, I like to take a home-cooked meal to them.
What is your parenting style?
I am very hands on—what I say, I do . I don’t give in and I am very creative in my means of discipline… just ask my kids!
Favorite advice about motherhood?
“You have two choices for dinner—take it or leave it!”
Quick Facts about Regina:
- What are five words that describe you? Energetic, strong-willed, loving, selfless, cheap.
- What is your favorite indulgence? Iced coffee and chocolate.
- What’s your favorite TV show? Duck Dynasty.
- What’s always in your handbag? Wet wipes and lipstick.
- What’s your favorite family outing? Six Flags or camping.
- What’s your favorite movie? Beauty and the Beast.
- What’s your guilty pleasure? Chinese food.