In 1990, Jenni and her husband attended an info meeting at ECFA led by Barbara Helmer about fostering pregnant teens. At the time, they were in their early 20s and wanted to start a family. While they did not feel ready to commit to teenagers, God stirred in their heart the desire to foster children, and in January of 1991 they earned their license.
God works in beautiful and mysterious ways, and in May a family called Barb Hellmer at ECFA to let her know of a child they had seen at a 90-day emergency home. That child was Alonzo, who was 3 months old and barely 7 lbs. Barb called Jenni and her husband, and within a few days they went and picked up Alonzo and took them into their home as Licensed Foster Parents. After about 6 months, it was clear that the birth parents were not going to be able to take care of Alonzo, so Jenni and her husband started the adoption process.
When Alonzo was 9 months old, Jenni gave birth to her daughter, Marcy. She and Alonzo were and still are the best of friends.
The years between Spring of 1991 and Fall of 1994 were filled with doctors’ appointments, parental visits at ECFA and DCFS, court appointments, psychological tests, an Autism diagnosis, and lots of therapy. Jenni shares that they knew all of the details of their story were in God’s hands. After three years, the adoption was finalized.
Many years after the adoption, Alonzo connected with his biological aunt and birth parents. It brought such joy to his birth parents, who were in nursing homes, to see pictures of Alonzo. His birth mother passed away not long after.
Jenni shares that they couldn’t have gone through the journey without a deeply rooted faith. She encourages adopters to not be afraid to seek God’s guidance and leading on their adoption. “There are many children that need a loving and supportive home,” she shares. “I especially encourage folks to be open to children of other nationalities other than their own, and to be open to children with special needs. We have learned so much about special education, special Olympics, adult long-term care, and have met many wonderful people along this journey. The joys outweigh the difficulties!”