By Lauri Ann Hanson
For college sweethearts Calvin and Melanie Bailey, it was love at first sight. And still is.
“She was drop-dead gorgeous, so friendly, and she just had a spark about her,” Calvin said.
“I was out to meet Calvin from the first time I laid eyes on him,” Melanie added. “Every time I would see him walking through campus, he was smiling. I just had to know him.”
Today, the couple of 28 years lives out their traditional love story in a most unconventional way as group home foster parents on the Buckner Children’s Home campus in Dallas.
“We decided to foster children as a form of ministry,” Melanie said, “but in the meantime our marriage has been strengthened.
“To stay married you have to take the focus off of yourself,” she said. “We found that when we were younger, our marriage was all about what made us happy. Over the years we’ve learned that serving together not only keeps us bonded, but it adds life and joy to our relationship in ways we never anticipated.”
Calvin, a landscape architect, and Melanie, an interior designer, have two adult biological sons. After living several years as empty nesters they decided to rejoin the parenting ranks. Now they take care of teenage boys.
Teamwork is key, Calvin said. “I couldn’t imagine doing this by myself,” he said. “My wife is amazing. She does so much to make this house a home for the boys while I have awarded myself the title of ‘activities coordinator.’ We enjoy taking the boys on bike rides, swinging at golf balls, and hitting up Dallas’ cultural attractions – this is when I really get to see the boys open up.”
Buckner Foster Care Case Manager Whitney Floyd said the Baileys’ encouraging attitude is a daily commitment.
“One of my favorite things about the Baileys is that they give all of the boys hugs every day before they leave for school,” she said. “They also host a weekly family time where they sit together and discuss various topics to assist the boys in gaining new insight as they are mentored to be confident and capable young men.”
The couple’s love and affection for one another is critical and provides the boys with a strong role model for what a loving relationship can look like.
“There are so many children out there who need a safe and stable place to call home,” Floyd said. “Buckner foster group homes help provide for that need, and parents like the Baileys help make home a reality.”
For the Baileys, becoming parents to teenagers again after living life as empty nesters was an easier decision than one might think.
“After 26 years, we feel like we were just starting to get this parenting thing down,” Melanie said with a laugh.
But while they may have mastered the art of juggling “joyous chaos,” she said it’s not all fun and games.
Many foster children come to them from situations of serious abuse or neglect, and they struggle with the baggage of their pasts.
“Often times the home environments these boys come out of have affected their self confidence and stunted their social development,” Calvin said. “Because I have been the first father figure that most of them have ever had, my goal has always been to prepare them to be strong, but loving men once they are out on their own.”
Calvin and Melanie model this by staying committed to one another and keeping their romance alive through daytime dates while the boys are at school.
“Our daytime dating scene may be unconventional, but we’ve learned what works for us,” Calvin said. “We have to make a point to take time for the two of us so that we stay connected and keep our priorities in line. From coffee to lunch or the movies, we take advantage of the special time that we have to build into our relationship and enjoy one another in the little things.”
Floyd said that the two are great models of parenting.
“They are a dynamic team,” she said.
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