Biological, Foster, and Adoptive Parent
I became a licensed foster parent as a single 27-year-old. I had a house, was employed full-time, and felt that I had something to give to a child in need of a safe place to grow.
The truth is, there was a lot I didn’t know!
During those single years, I provided respite and fostered a long-term placement. Years later, I met my husband, and he got licensed as well. About one year into our marriage, we welcomed our only biological child. Almost one year after that, we decided it was time to re-open our home to kids in care. We received a few placements of individual children. Soon, we welcomed a seven-month-old boy. After several attempts to engage the birth parents, their rights were terminated, and the Patricks adopted “Little Guy.” The days ahead were busy! Little Guy had a lot of needs and our eldest was an active and healthy two-year-old!
I had planned on going back to school to get my Master’s degree until one day in December, when I found out we were pregnant. I waited until my husband came home to tell him. He heard the news and responded:
I just want to drink coffee, save orphans, and take naps. 🙂
“The caseworker called…Little Guy’s birth mom had a baby. They’re giving us 12 hours to tell them whether or not we would be willing to foster her.”
We prayed on it, slept on it, and woke up feeling the same way we ended our night: there was no question. We would keep the siblings together and foster Baby Sister. We would prepare her and mom for reunification, or we would prepare Baby Sister to stay with us. Either way, she was coming!
That year was a huge learning curve for me as I built a relationship with Birth Mom while raising three children. Six months later, Birth Mom decided to sign off on Baby Sister, who she asked us to adopt along with Little Guy.
With three kids under three years old, the next several years were a whirlwind of diapers, doctor visits, early childhood activities and preparation for school.
After the kids started entering school, I realized that I wasn’t going to be that awesome parent with a 12-passenger van (you guys are truly a cut above!!). So, I returned to my original plan to earn my Master’s as a Certified Family Life Educator with a focus on providing mentoring, resources and education to all families, with a specific focus on foster and adoptive families. I wanted to offer the support and training I’d received from my mentors to others on their parenting journey.
Over the past 7 years, I have worked with the Judson Center as a Post Adoption Resource Center (PARC) Family Worker, the AFPRR Program Director for the Region 3 Resource Team, which provides recruitment, training and resources for foster, adoptive and kinship households covering an 18-countywide area. I am currently a pre-licensing trainer with the Judson Center, training up-and-coming foster, adoptive and kinship families. My husband and I are currently raising our three children in beautiful southwest Michigan.
I love quiet (a rare treasure!), long walks, kayaking, reading, caring for animals, and time with my family.
Education and Background
Jennifer R. Patrick, M.A., Certified Family Life Educator, fostered for over 20 years, and is currently both a biological parent and an adoptive parent. Jennifer began fostering when she was single at 27. At some point, she realized that she wasn’t going to become that amazing foster mom with a 12-passenger van, a grande dirty chai, wearing a trendy tee shirt and skinny jeans, so she pursued her Masters in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University in 2016. A long, LONG time ago, she attained her B.A. in Interpersonal Communications from Western Michigan University (1994).
Since attaining her Master’s degree as a CFLE, she has worked with the MDHHS and private agencies as a pre-licensing trainer, first with PRIDE and currently with the new GROW curriculum developed by Eastern Michigan University. She has supervised a recruitment and retention staff spanning 18 counties in southwest Michigan and prior to that, served adoptive families through Post Adoption Resource Center, Region 5.
Jennifer is purposeful and enthusiastic when informing and equipping FAK parents while keeping positive outcomes for kids in care the focus of her work.
- Jennifer created the program Fostering Partnerships which encourages members of faith communities to become foster parents while empowering churches to build sustainable support systems for foster, adoptive and kinship families in their congregations or communities.
- She is the recipient of the 2015 Faith Communities Excellence Award.
- She currently presents continuing education classes for FAK parents through Michigan State University, and has been a presenter at the Annual Foster, Adoptive, Kinship & Guardianship Parent Conference since 2019.