Wahl family sees growth through fostering

Published 7:17 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2019

In July 2018, J.J. and Ginger Wahl welcomed a sweet baby boy into their home, but little did they know at that time that their newest family member would bring with him additional family and close relationships. 

The Wahls became licensed foster parents in June 2018, after praying about the process with their three biological children and undergoing training through Wellroot Family Services, a faith-centered family services organization.

“It has been wonderful,” Ginger said. “I think we both would say it is the best thing that we ever did as a family, just opening our doors to children that need a home. It has been really rewarding, and our children have been a big part of this. They’ve really enjoyed seeing us meet the needs of other children who need a home, it has been a really neat experience.”

“They have been a part of it the whole time,” J.J. said of the Wahl’s biological children. “When we pray together at night, we all pray together about this, so they’ve been involved pretty much from the beginning.”

Bringing baby Owen home proved to be only the beginning, however, because they soon found new family nearby.

“We got approved to be a licensed foster home with the state of Georgia in June of 2018,” Ginger said. “We got our first placement on July 7. He was three days old, straight from the hospital, and within that first week, we realized that our three-day-old baby that had come to us from Atlanta has a half-brother who lives two miles from us. So, it was really a crazy God thing.”

Ginger said that while Owen’s half-brother, Trinity, does not live with the family full time, since he and the children’s great-grandmother live close by, they are able to allows them to act like siblings — along with the family’s three other children.

“We are able to allow them to have a relationship that may not have otherwise occurred,” J.J. said.

The process also brought another family member into their lives — the boys’ great-grandmother.

“We are now all like family,” Ginger said. “My children see her as — I think they think she is their grandmother, and we had a family dinner last night at her house. We swim at her house. It has been a very cool process.”

The couple said everything that has happened is an answer to their prayers and their goal to serve God from within their home.

“One of the scriptures that we were always pointed to when we were praying through this process of how we could make a difference in our community, what we could do to change these children’s lives — we were always brought to the scripture James 1:27,” Ginger said.

The verse calls for Christians to look after orphans and widows, a task that fostering has made possible for the Wahls.

“We wanted to do some sort of mission as a family in our own home, and we felt like we were being led to children,” Ginger said. “How could we help children who need a home? And we were always brought back to this verse, and then low and behold, we have this orphan who comes into our home, and as a bonus, we have his widowed great-grandmother that we are able to help and his half-brother that lives with her.”

The family recently adopted Owen in June, and Ginger said the experience was been great.

“The biggest surprise for me is how much our children enjoy being a part of everything,” Ginger said. “They would pray at night for a child that needed a home and needed a place to live, and to see those prayers being answered was a good thing for our family, for our kids to see that these kids need a home. They truly enjoy being a part of Owen’s life, and they would pray every night before we adopted him that they would be able to help, that they would be able to adopt him.”

She said that she was glad to be able to give her biological children the chance to see the needs of others met in their home in a positive way, especially considering the most common concern the couple heard while they were training to become foster parents.

“A lot of people would say, when we were going through our training, ‘Are you sure this is going to be the best thing for your kids? They are so young. Are they going to be affected in a negative way?’” Ginger said. “To see the exact opposite happen was really surprising, and it just really assured me that we did the right thing. I think it is normal to be scared. It is normal to wonder if you are doing the right thing for your children or for your family’s sake. We had doubts along the way, but I can assure you that it has been the best thing that we ever did as a family.”

The couple admitted that not everyone is a good fit for foster parenting, but they said that everyone can help. 

“Fostering is not for everybody, but everybody can help support the mission of fostering, whether by financial support or [other means],” J.J. said. “We had several families just bring us dinner within the first couple of weeks of Owen being placed in our home, because it is life-changing. All of a sudden you have another child in your home, and that kind of support was awesome. So, there is always a way to support the mission of fostering, whether or not you bring kids into your home.”

They also encouraged families on the fence about becoming foster parents to take the next step and learn more about what it means to be foster parents.

“I think families who are considering fostering should take that first step and contact an agency to go through the training,” J.J. said. “Wellroot was great for us. We had a great relationship with everybody who works there. They have been very supportive of us, and the neat thing through our process of fostering and eventually adopting was that we have established relationships with other people that may not have ever occurred. We have had opportunities to connect people through this process.”

Ginger said that people can help foster children by fostering, supporting foster families, volunteering or by being an advocate for foster children. As of May 2019, there were approximately 13,718 children in foster care in Georgia, according to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. To learn more about fostering children through Wellroot, visit Fostertroup.com, call (404) 327-5820 or check out the information meeting on July 30 at 10 a.m. at Western Heights Baptist Church.