Become a Foster Parent
Jeanne and Pete Jackson celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this summer – but that wasn’t the only cause for recent celebration. After 11 years of fostering children with Beech Brook, the Jacksons adopted a boy that has been in their home for 4 years, along with finalizing the adoption of the boy’s brother this fall, keeping the siblings together.
Being foster parents to children who have been removed from their home after experiencing some form of trauma may seem overwhelming to some – but to Jeanne and Pete Jackson, it’s a calling. Prior to becoming foster parents, they had been caregivers for the disabled, elderly, and even their own family members. As Jeanne puts it, “It’s part of who we are.” When Jeanne’s brother started fostering with Beech Brook (apparently the desire to help others runs in the family!), she and Pete just couldn’t help themselves – they had to open their home to children who needed a loving and safe family, if only temporarily.
In 2012, they became foster parents for Beech Brook.
Since then, they’ve fostered approximately 30 children. Some stayed for just a few days, some stayed over 4 years, like the brothers they are adopting. But whether the child stayed for one month or one year, the Jacksons made sure that they felt like they were a part of their family. And the impact of that kind of love is immeasurable – it lasts through adolescence, into adulthood, and carries over into their relationships with their future spouse and children. It breaks the cycle of feeling unwanted and unworthy and helps build stronger families for generations.
A Teen Who Needed Attention and Support
One teenager stands out to Pete as someone who really benefited from having attentive, loving parents. He was 13-years old, had just come into their home as a result of parental neglect, and joined his school’s football team. After a few weeks of attending daily practice, they found out that he hadn’t actually been attending practice at all.
This boy had never had parents who cared where he was during the day, or even if he came home at night. So, Jeanne and Pete spoke with him - but didn’t punish him. They repeatedly encouraged him to do his best. The fact that his new foster parents cared where he was and what was best for him gave him a parental relationship that he had never had. Eventually, with time and patience, he came to appreciate their support because he was a great athlete throughout high school. Now, he is attending college, something that had not even been on his radar before entering the Jacksons’ home. This once rebellious and traumatized young teenager stays in touch with the Jacksons and always calls them on the holidays. He still lets them know where he is.
The impact the Jacksons make on their foster children is especially apparent as the children slowly let their guards down and start accepting expressions of parental affection from Jeanne and Pete. “Some kids come into our home not able to hug or say ‘I love you’ because of the abuse they experienced,” Pete explains. “But as they slowly begin to trust us, they start being willing to give hugs and allow us to love them – it’s very touching to experience that change in themselves as they let down their guard.”
During their time as foster parents, the Jacksons have touched countless lives through their dedication to the most vulnerable children in our community. They are the ones who are there for the kids who have no one else. They take them in, give them a family and show them love, and sometimes give them back so that they can reunite with their biological family - which is actually what Jeanne and Pete want for their foster kids. “It’s so critical for kids, even the ones who get adopted, because they still have that desire to know their parents,” Pete says. “We try to hold gatherings for the kids and their siblings so that they can keep that familial connection, which is important for everyone to have,” Jeanne adds.
Pete and Jeanne stay in contact with many of the foster children they welcomed into their home throughout the years. Some children had been adopted by other families, but get invited to birthday parties and family events, since they planned such an integral part in their upbringing. Others have moved away but still call them on holidays.
Many former foster children, now adults and living their own lives, still call them “Mom and Dad.” That’s what Pete and Jeanne Jackson built with these children, who were at their most vulnerable and riddled with trauma – a strong family who loves them.
That’s what all children need – and that’s Beech Brook’s mission: to help children and families thrive. No matter what that family looks like.
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