Life was forever changed when Beth and Jimmy Rogers decided to become foster parents. Spurred by faith, they now work to help other families discover the blessings associated with fostering and adoption.
Beth and Jimmy Rogers were not exactly planning to expand their happy family of four prior to 2012. Parents to teenagers Cole and Cori, the empty nest was visible on the distant horizon, and they were looking forward to a quieter stage of life. Then came Andre, with his heart-stealing liquid brown eyes and mile-wide smile. Everything changed. The Rogers family now includes Andre, Karyn and Riley—three beautiful children adopted from the foster care system.
In retrospect, it had always been in the back of Beth’s mind.
“When I was a child, I loved reading a series of books about a foster child who got adopted,” she said, “and I knew people who were foster parents.” Many years later, when the Rogers’ friends adopted from China, Beth—a teacher at East Newton Elementary School—began thinking about adoption again. “Beth prayed harder than me,” Jimmy said with a laugh. “She was already there mentally, but I wasn’t. Then I did the ‘Experience God’ workbook. It taught me a new level of Christian service and obedience, which led me to being open to it.”
The Rogers also had friends who had started fostering, which allowed them to see the reality of introducing a new child to a family. Their focus soon shifted. In 2012, they became licensed foster parents through the United Methodist Children’s Home in Tucker. Now called Wellroot Family Services, the program trains new foster parents and provides support throughout the process. The Rogers’ first placement involved two girls who lived with them for one year and two days. Beth and Jimmy still hold a special place for them in their hearts.
“So many people say, ‘I could never foster because I would get too attached,’ but these kids deserve someone who will love them like that,” Jimmy said. “The love they receive is more important than anything you might go through.”
“It doesn’t take anyone special to foster or adopt. We just put ourselves in a position of being used. Anything good that happens is because God has done it.”Jimmy Rogers
Their next placement stayed for three months. Then the agency called to inform them that it was bringing a 1-month-old infant. However, instead of the baby, 2-and-a-half-year-old Andre arrived, his belongings stuffed in trash bags. The social worker told them Andre was already slated for adoption. When it was time for the social worker to leave, she beckoned Andre to come tell her goodbye. He ran into her arms and said, “I want to go home.”
“When she told him that this was his new home, his face just fell,” Beth said. “It was his third move in two years. Our hearts broke for him.”
In that moment, adoption was back on the table for the Rogers.
“We were open to giving him a permanent family to keep him from the trauma of moving again,” Jimmy said. “Of course, we grew to love him, too, but initially [deciding to adopt] was because we thought that would be best for him.”
The following day, the Rogers accepted the placement of a spunky 5-month-old named Karyn, the energy level in their home increasing exponentially; and several months after Andre and Karyn arrived, the Rogers took a newborn placement straight from the neonatal intensive care unit. Riley was far different from the other children. “She was so lethargic,” Beth said. It was later discovered that Riley suffered from chronic urinary tract infections due to kidney reflux—a condition in which urine backs up instead of flowing out. She spent 20 days in the hospital. Those weeks were a blur, as the Rogers struggled to balance full-time jobs, two teenagers, a toddler, an infant and a hospitalized newborn. Once Riley returned home, they all worked to adjust to their new normal.
Adopting the girls was the natural next step for the Rogers. “Relatives had considered adopting Karyn, but that didn’t work out,” Beth said. “That was pretty much it. She was just ours.” Social workers also attempted a family placement for Riley, but it fell through. When her birth parents suddenly relinquished their parental rights, the Rogers knew she would be their daughter, too. “We had kids in diapers for five straight years,” Beth said. When Riley’s younger birth sibling was temporarily added to the mix, they found themselves juggling five children under the age of 5 for six months.
Their incredible journey only deepened from there. The Rogers now have a new focus: Kaleo Family Services. “Kaleo” is Greek for “the call,” and the organization was birthed out of the Rogers’ desire to see others answer the call to foster and adopt.
“Once you see what these kids go through, you can’t unsee it. I think my job is red-pilling the church,” Jimmy said. “Honestly, it’s hard to get people to care about fostering and adoption. They say they’ll care—but not to the point that they’re willing to have it affect their life. There are a few scriptures that really began to change how I thought about things: James 1:22–27 and 2:14–17 and 1 John 3:16–18. I couldn’t read and know them while continuing to follow my own thoughts.”
Kaleo will focus on the hundreds of foster children in DFACS Region 5, which includes Newton, Rockdale, Walton, Morgan and eight other counties. The organization is currently completing the documentation required to work directly with the state. It will promote children ready for adoption, recruit potential foster and adoptive parents and connect them with training programs. The Rogers have a special desire to help teenagers at risk of aging out of the system.
“People don’t realize that we have foster teenagers staying in hotels because there’s such a need for foster homes in our region,” Jimmy said. Although people often praise the Rogers for their work, they are quick to give credit to a higher source. “We’re not anybody great,” Jimmy said. “It doesn’t take anyone special to foster or adopt. We just put ourselves in a position of being used. Anything good that happens is because God has done it.”
For information in Kaleo Family Services, visit KaleoFamilies.org.
Click here to read more stories by Kari Apted.