A Journey to Family: How Fostering a Teen Transformed a Life


“Kathy” had often considered becoming a foster parent. For years, she had weighed the pros and cons, but the emotional toll of potentially returning a child to their family weighed heavily on her heart.

As a 10th-grade English and AP Literature and Composition teacher at Reach Cyber Charter School, she had the opportunity to educate youth who were in the foster care system, but had no first-hand experience with fostering. 

It was through one of these students that she was introduced to Adelphoi.

“One of my former students was foster-to-adopt through Adelphoi and she recommended that I contact them,” she recalled.

Because of Kathy's familiarity in working with teenagers, she and her partner, “Jim”, expressed their preference of fostering an older child in need.

“I teach them every day, so I’m used to the unique challenges they bring,” she explained.

In 2023, Kathy and Jim, of Irwin, opened their home to “Connor,” a teen from a group home who was on probation for offenses he had previously committed.

“We have been very blessed with this placement,” Kathy stated. “He has fit in so well with us that often it feels like he has always been a part of our family. There certainly were some minor adjustment issues at the beginning, but it all sorted itself out very quickly, and much more quickly than I expected.”

Over the course of the past year, Connor, who is now nearly 15, has gotten off of probation and has had the opportunity to experience a wide variety of new adventures.

“He loves trying new restaurants and watching zombie movies,” said Kathy. “He went on a trip to [Washington] DC with us and was recently on a school trip to Gettysburg. He has gone to his first Renaissance Fair. He played soccer for the first time and went to Overly's Country Christmas. He also went to Acrisure Stadium and PNC Park for the first time. 

“There are so many [special moments],” she continued. “Just all of the ‘first’ experiences we have been able to provide for him— and the first time he hugged me.”

What was perhaps one of the most heartfelt moments the new family shared together took place in April, when Connor participated in Jim and Kathy's wedding.

“Spending every day with a teenager is demanding but it is such a special time,” Kathy exclaimed. “So much is happening in his life and being able to experience things with him is my favorite part of the day.”

With the possibility of adopting Connor on the horizon, the trio is filled with excitement and anxiously awaits the day they can officially be a family.

“Being a ‘mom’ is rewarding in so many ways but the changes I see in my foster child every day and knowing that even if in a small way I am helping him to grow and evolve is my favorite,” said Kathy.

“It is the best decision I have ever made.”

There is a growing need for foster parents, especially those willing to foster teens. If you're interested in becoming a foster parent, contact Adelphoi at www.adelphoifoster.org or 1-800-KID-5928 to learn how you can make a difference in a child's life.