Meeting the need
Paula and Lance Raymond are the only couple in their Sunday school class who are not empty nesters. Though they are both in their 60s, the Raymonds’ Mesquite, Texas, home is often full of childish voices and little footsteps echoing through the halls.
Paula and Lance have been foster parents for over 17 years, and it’s a ministry they don’t intend to stop doing.
“I think what keeps us doing it is the same reason we went into it,” Paula said. “We really saw a need and we could fill that need. We felt like we could do a good job of filling that need.”
Lance is a retired police officer, and Paula worked as a caseworker before becoming a stay-at-home mom to homeschool her kids. When their youngest was 9 years old, Lance heard an advertisement on the radio about the need for foster parents. He knew instantly he and Paula should get involved.
“Both of us are service minded,” Lance said. “We’re both believers, and we both serve. I like the opportunity to have a ministry with kids and young lives. There are a lot of things they’ve never experienced that I can help them experience.”
The Raymonds have had 37 foster children in their home and with each one they make sure to involve them in all family activities, including volunteering projects. They go camping, swim, cook and play games. Lance is an avid woodworker and he enjoys teaching the craft to the children.
Therapeutic foster parents help children blossom
One of their favorite things has been seeing how their foster children respond and relate with their son Eric. Eric has Down syndrome and while some of the children are a little leery of him at first, Eric’s smiles and bright personality often helps the children settle in sooner and feel secure.
“It’s been really neat,” Lance said. “These kids come, and they fall in love with Eric.”
“A lot of times, they’ll watch something on the TV together and he’ll dance with them and fit right in,” Paula added.
Eric also inspired Lance and Paula to begin therapeutic foster care. Children in the therapeutic foster care program have moderate to significant social, emotional, behavioral or unmet physical needs requiring the extra care and attention of a skilled caregiver.
As when they first started foster care, Lance and Paula saw a need they were qualified to meet so they stepped up to help care for some of the most vulnerable children in foster care.
“My favorite thing is seeing them change,” Paula said. “We have had some that we have not seen change, but for the majority, once they feel secure and safe and know they are going to be OK, they just blossom.”
And while most people Paula and Lance’s age have downsized their homes, the Raymonds decided to upsize so they could care for more foster children.
“Someone asked us how long we plan on doing it, but we’ve never even talked about quitting,” Paula said. “It can be very challenging, but we love doing it. It’s one of the ways we can really minister. I think that not everyone can be a foster parent, but I do think everyone could support a foster parent. In Scripture it talks about visiting the orphans and widows and these aren’t true orphans because they do have parents, but essentially it’s the same idea. We see the need and can meet that need.”