Forever Changed as a First Time Foster Mom

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Forever changed as a first-time foster mom - Photo by Susan McConnell

Just six weeks after two young siblings arrived in their home, Melissa & Tee are getting used to their lives as foster parents. After struggling with infertility for years, Let It Be Us inspired them to get licensed as foster parents last fall. Today, this local couple can’t imagine life without the children and have already begun the adoption process.

In Part 2 of our 3-part series, Melissa shares some family firsts and reflects on becoming a mom through foster care. Here’s what she told me, in her own words…

I’d like to say we were well prepared for the day our children arrived. But that wasn’t the case. My husband Tee and I were in a furniture shop in Knoxville, Tennessee with my grandparents when our caseworker called. She had told us before of two young siblings who may need a home, but the details weren’t firm. During the call she said, “The two children I told you about are available now.” We were so excited and couldn’t wait to come home and meet the children.

Melissa & Tee in Tennessee after getting word of the children’s upcoming arrival

That night I was so emotional I couldn’t sleep. We had just recently received our foster parent license. And we were out of town when we got the call. We were reassured when Let It Be Us Executive Director, Susan McConnell said, “Don’t worry. Whatever you need will get worked out.” I immediately felt connected to the kids and prayed for them. A girl and a boy!

The siblings explore their new grandparents’ farm

When we got back from Tennessee everything happened quickly. I rushed to Target to pick up some things for the kids. It was mid-day when they arrived. We got a 10-minute heads up notice that the caseworker was bringing them to our home. I felt a mix of emotion. I was so ready for this. But I also felt hurt for the kids thinking how scary this might be for them. I was ready to take over and I know we are going to give them a good life, but we were strangers to them. Would they like us? Would they be okay leaving the caseworker and spending time with us? I wanted to tell them, “You’re safe. We won’t ever leave you.”

Motherhood comes naturally to Melissa | Photo by Susan McConnell

Our son was afraid of our dog and started screaming. But within minutes he was playing with him. Our sweet daughter said “Hello” and looked around. They both settled in nicely as if they knew this was their new home. They had no trouble saying goodbye to the caseworker and started playing with us immediately. Inside their duffel bags were some clothes, a stuffed animal, and a blanket. They had winter jackets and bikes too.

First bike rides in the kids’ new neighborhood

Our first night together, we read bedtime stories and tucked them in. I sat outside their rooms for two hours wondering if they were alright. They slept for 12 hours! When they woke, they ran into our room and jumped on our bed. We were all so happy, laughing, wrapping blankets around each other. I thought, “Could this really be true?”

First breakfast with the children

We had some background information on the kids. Our son has a few food allergies. It seems they may have lived a sheltered life. We like going places and doing things with the kids but they got afraid if it was something new for them. At first, whenever driving in the car they would become silent. The car meant something to them. Now they sing and talk non-stop while in the car.

First trip to church on Sunday

Our son had never had his hair cut. I asked him if he’d like to get it cut. He said yes. A friend of mine came over and cut his and his sister’s hair. My friend commented on how nicely they behaved. “These kids are terrific,” she said. It was adorable when I heard them complimenting each other on their new haircuts. They even pitched in on doing laundry with me. Our son loves to clean. My mom got him a cleaning set with a little broom and he loves it.

First spring cleaning

They are happy with whatever they receive, whether it be new shoes, clothes or a toy. How did I get so lucky? I’m their mom!

First trip to the grocery story

I’m lucky in other ways too. We have relatives, friends and Let It Be Us to support us as a family. The kids love the attention they get from their aunts, grandparents, uncles, and cousins. And from our friends. I love seeing my husband be such a great father. He often lets me be the good cop in the family. Which I appreciate.

Some people asked if I was scared about being an “instant” mom. All the things I fretted about before the kids arrived seem trivial to me now. I’m glad everything wasn’t ready. We can pick out paint colors for their bedrooms and clothes together. They’ve been with us for several weeks now. Our son is funny. He cracks us up. He likes the trains that run nearby. He listens for them and wants to watch them. He likes cars too. He’s very strong. I think he may make a good gymnast. Our daughter is protective of her brother and likes to cuddle. She loves art and baseball.

First time at bat

I am their mama bear always watching, protecting, and teaching them. Some days I’m exhausted but it’s a good exhausted. Each morning they wake us up at 7:00 a.m. and climb into our bed for snuggles. All the sadness surrounding not having children has left us. Love and joy have taken its place. We learn something new about our kids and us every day. We’re forever grateful for what we have and what’s to come.

First game of hide-and-seek | Photo by Susan McConnell

Coming up in Part 3 Melissa shares what lies ahead for their family, including some of their hopes and fears about adoption through foster care. For more on their story, be sure to read Part 1 where Melissa shares about their struggle with infertility and journey to parenthood

We hope you enjoy learning about foster care in Illinois through these stories of love, generosity and kindness. If you or someone you know is curious about how to get licensed as a foster parent in Illinois, please call 847-764-LIBU or visit


  1. I am truly moved by this article and wish there were more families like them out there! God bless your new family!

  2. I LOVE this story!
    Beautiful to know there are people out there who truly would love to be parents, and a program in place to help them…and, of course, the children.
    Thank you, Susan McConnell and Mary Klest!

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