A Grandfather’s Story of Foster Care and Adoption

By Jim Kurt (St. Vincent Catholic Charities Board Member and Volunteer)

This is my grandfather’s story of foster care and adoption. Being a grandparent is one of the most amazing experiences one could imagine. When our children announced the pregnancy of each of our 12 grandchildren, my wife and I were so excited. When my daughter, Susan, and her husband, Kevin, announced their plan to become foster parents, I responded slightly differently as a grandparent, at least at first. How would this affect their three children, my three amazing grandchildren, Gabe, Allie, and Ben? Would the foster child require too much attention, taking away from my grandchildren?

As I processed this news, I realized there are many children in foster care who need a home. As a Board Member, I realized STVCC was in the business of finding homes for children in foster care and adoption. I soon learned that this was something that Susan and Kevin had been praying about for a year before reaching this decision. And now they were ready to commit.

When Jase came on the scene he was just four weeks old. He had many issues to deal with… eating and sleeping disorders; no weight gain and crying most of the time. He was not a happy baby. Although it was not verbalized to me, I think there were times his new foster parents considered giving him back. However, I knew that Susan, being a terrific loving, prayer-filled, mother and a “stay-at-home mom,” imitating her mother, Lynn, (my wife of 40 years, deceased eight years earlier), would work through these difficulties.

Help from STVCC Foster Care and Adoption

Because of love, prayers, conviction, persistence and patience; doctor appointments, physical therapists, and never ending support from the foster care staff at STVCC, matters gradually got better. After a few months, my entire family became attached to Jase. He began to smile, was sleeping and eating better, and starting to gain weight. He was becoming a much happier baby. My initial concerns for my three grandchildren were soon alleviated. I am so amazed how much Jase is loved by his “new” siblings. They love talking and playing with him, reading with and feeding him, and has just become an integral part of their family life. As far as I was concerned, there was no way he could go back into the foster care system. But then, as a grandparent, what say did I have in this?

So when I learned of my adult children’s plan to adopt Jase, my heart was flooded with joy. I couldn’t imagine him going to another foster care family. So many children need a home and I felt so proud that a member of our family had decided to take action to make a difference. When the judge made the adoption official, there were over 70 family members and friends in the court room with balloons and confetti celebrating the occasion. I have never seen such a joyous group, welcoming Jase into the Mayes family.

Kevin is a teacher and basketball coach for East Lansing Schools. Gabe, Allie and Ben play soccer, basketball, football, and have games throughout the year. Jase has attended most of their games and loves cheering them on with his arms up-touch down style. It is amazing to watch Susan and Kevin’s adult friends at the games, who love Jase more than you can imagine. He gets passed from mother to mother. Of course, most of these mother’s youngest child is probably 10-14 years old and they miss having a baby around. So they get their “baby fix” with Jase. And, Jase loves it.

Jase is now 15 months old, smiling, walking and a very active little boy in a big family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins included) and with friends who love him to pieces. He is a blessed little boy and we are blessed having him in our family. The Mayes family is even more “aMayesing” now that Jase is an integral part of their family!

Each of my grandchildren are so precious to me. I feel blessed by how they are each so unique. I feel thankful that my daughter and son-in-law expanded our family and our hearts by adopting my grandson. I feel thankful, proud, and blessed that adoption is a part of our family story. This young boy, Jase, has changed our lives and we are so fortunate to share in his life journey. God has filled our hearts with a love that we are so grateful to share. “We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19

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