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Jen Lilley and Husband Jason Wayne Share Their Moving Foster-to-Adopt Journey: ‘You Have to Get Too Attached’

Getting to know the foster care system

Jen Lilley: My parents were kind of unofficial foster parents, meaning we had people who would live with our family from time to time who maybe had just fallen on difficult times and needed some assistance getting back on their feet. So the idea having someone outside of my family unit stay with me for extended periods of time was not foreign or scary to me. That’s where my empathy and seeds of my love for foster care really started.

Jason, like many Americans, didn’t know a lot about foster care and really believed the myth and misconception that kids in foster care are associated with the juvenile delinquent system, they’re “bad kids.” Where the truth is these are children who have found themselves in an extremely broken system through no fault of their own, but generally due to severe neglect or abuse.

The goal of foster care is not actually adoption; it’s actually to reunify the families, but in some cases it’s just really not safe for the child, and those children become eligible for adoption. So when one of my mentees was facing reunification, that was a very bad, unsafe idea for her. That was the catalyst for Jason, and we decided to get licensed.

Jason Wayne: Well, she just asked me, “What’s the harm in taking the classes to find out more information? Rather than coming to your own conclusion without knowing all the details.” That was very logical to me. I thought, “Okay, we can do classes to find out about this.” And so we did.

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