If you had met the Conroy family a year ago, they would have looked like your average family –Mom, Dad, and three wild and fun boys. However, over the past year their family has grown in ways that they would never have imagined. After looking at their sweet family of five, they decided that they had more love to give and decided to start the process of becoming a foster family. When they first started the paperwork, they had no idea that this decision would impact their family forever and grow their love tenfold.
Shortly after becoming licensed, the Conroy’s received their first placement call for two little girls, ages one and three. Within a few hours they grew from a family of five to a family of seven, with three of the littles being under three years old. Their house is louder than ever, with a little chaos and a lot of laughs, and more diapers than one can count. As everyone adjusted to this new normal, all the kids connected seamlessly and naturally, as though the girls had always been there, a simple reminder for all that family is full of love, not just shared genetics. Family is Friday night pizza nights, neighborhood walks and scooter rides, lake days and tubing, bedtime stories and little prayers before dinner.
On the day the girls were placed with the Conroy’s, they did not only gain two new family members, but a whole community of family. Two of the girls’ teen sisters are in Epworth’s residential group home, and the Conroy’s have gone above and beyond to connect with them and include them in their family. They FaceTime the girls regularly, take them on adventures, and include them in the little girls lives. They visit them in their cottage at Epworth and Mrs. Conroy loves to spend girl time with them getting their hair and nails done. The older girls are still able to be involved in their little sisters’ lives, and they know what milestones they are reaching and what their current favorite cartoon is. This has made the transition for the little girls much easier, since they are still connected with their family, but it also has had a profound impact on the older girls. Cheryl Singletary, the older girls’ Cottage Coordinator at Epworth, says this about their relationship with the Conroy family:
“I have seen such a remarkable change in the girls; they are happier. The Conroy family is such an inspiration; the love and affection I’ve seen shown to Jayla* and Taylor* is overwhelming. The girls are truly blessed to have this family in their lives. There is an abundance of joy and pride that is felt whenever they encounter this family. As the Cottage Coordinator of Dantzler, I can honestly state that this is one of the best connections I’ve seen in a very long time.”
But for the Conroy’s, it doesn’t even stop there. Epworth has also been able to connect them with the foster families of the girls’ other siblings, and they have built strong connections and developed a community with them. Because of this, they are able to include everyone in birthdays, special events, celebrations, and milestones. They are redefining what family can look like, and it is trickling down to their children. Cash, the Conroy’s oldest son, is so proud to be part of a foster family and loves to tell people that he has 12 brothers and sisters and 2 of them live in his house.
Foster care can be tough, but it is also a beautiful and life changing experience to be a part of. Mr. Conroy reminds us that there is eternal value in investing in these children, families, and entire communities. That there is immense joy when a child sees the beach for the first time, or gets up the nerve to jump into the lake, or trusts you enough to let you do their hair for the first time. The Conroy’s remind us all that children in foster care are not bad kids, but kids who have been through hard things at no fault of their own. They just want to play volleyball and run track and get embarrassed by their family at school and have nice little notes in their lunchbox. They want safety and consistency and for you to care, about them and their whole family. Although the Conroy’s do not know what the future will hold for them, they are pressing forward with one motto in mind: Fear Less, Love More.