Over the past 12 years Lois and Roy Jorgensen have opened their home to take in foster children. There are currently more than 269 kids now in care with over 100 families in Jackson County. Here is a little bit of their story.
Lois, can you tell me a little bit about how you guys became involved in taking in foster teenagers?
When I was in high school my mom remarried and moved out of the Medford area. I then moved in to live with my older brothers for awhile, before friends began offering me places to stay.
I then bounced around my senior year staying with different families from my church. I have always been grateful for the kindness shown to me. When I got married to my husband Roy and we had our own children, we started exploring how we could open up our home to foster children the same ages as our own kids. I called The Department of Human Services and asked questions and the process began.
How are you notified and how many people actually offer their homes up for taking in kids?
We normally receive a phone call and get to learn about the youth. We then setup a time to meet them and then we go from there. There are only a few homes in Ashland that do foster care. Most openings are in the Medford area. Currently there are over 269 children in Jackson County in foster care and only 100 families that are certified for care. Some homes have 4 or more kids in them. D.H.S. only calls during working hours unless you are listed as an emergency placement.
What has been the most challenging aspect for you and Roy opening up your home to help out foster youth?
The most challenging aspect for us was when we were raising our own kids at the same time as having foster children. Rules were to be followed by all, and some foster kids had never had rules or structure to live by. Roy and I always have to work with each individual circumstances as it came. Having foster children means that they become part of your family and sometimes that was hard. The D.H.S. gave us great caseworkers, resorces and training to keep us informed and educated on each case.
Having foster children is a window of time to give these kids a new outlook at family life and you hope that when they leave they will take something good away from the experience. It’s not always easy but to Roy and I it has been more of a calling. Its not for everyone, but everyone deserves a family to love them, and a safe place to live.
What has been the most rewarding aspects for the two of you in being involved in this type of work? Roy and I both love seeing change and have watched these teens graduate from highschool, do missionary work in foreign countries, and go to college. Not all have a success story, but the lives you see change make up for the ones that didn’t. Some of our previous foster children are now in their 20’s and still visit us on occasion.
At one time you had your own teenagers at home and foster teenagers coming into your home? How did this work?
Yes, when we were raising our kids and offering foster care it was harder than it is now. Having foster children coming and going for different amounts of time was difficult but we just took them wherver we had to go and they participated or they watched. Our friends and church community accepted them. Of course some children had visits with their biological families and sometimes that went well and sometimes it didn’t. We always have tried to provide a place where the kids were loved and safe. Sometimes it was easy, sometimes it wasn’t.
How do you and Roy work together as a team in offering this type of service?
Team work has always been vital. Everyone has a job and each member of the family has to help. Some helped in the kitchen some did outside jobs. Each monday night the family gets together and they talk about the upcoming week and concerns. We also share ideas and feelings and then finish with a game and treats. No family is perfect but we always try to show the best way to resolve differences and keep each other heading in the right direction in life school and community.
Your biggest lesson?
I would have to say that the biggest lesson we have learned is that the kids might never say be able to say thank you for all that we have done. Often times they want to return to biological parents and this can be hard. Some have gone back and things didn’t work out so they came back to us. It takes time to see any gratitude but every child deserves a chance to be loved and be nurtured in a safe environment and that is why we do this.
What message do you try to give to kids who come into your house?
Our main goal is to encourage our foster kids to finish high school. To see all the choices and opportunities out there, and to make sure that their decisions each day don’t take away their chances for future success. The home has to be one trust and loyalty to each other. They need to feel that they are important and that they have a chance for happiness. To help do that for others and to give back.
Foster care is not for everyone but those who are interested can make a big difference in a childs life.
To learn more you can call: 1- 776-6120DHS
Roy and Lois Jorgensen own LooseEnds Hair Salon and Bearcreek Electric in Ashland, Oregon