When did you meet? July 2013
Where did you meet? Princess Cruise Lines. Andrew was a personal trainer and Janelle was on an Alaskan Cruise with her family.
Who was interested first? Both.
When did you get married? May 2014
Valentine’s Day celebration? Our son was at a birthday party, so we took the three girls ice skating! It was Rose’s and Ella's first time and it was incredible the JOY we experienced seeing their confidence grow and then soar on the ice.
What did you love first about Andrew? Besides his English accent? I love his positive spin on life and entrepreneurial spirit.
What did you love first about Janelle? Janelle has a light about her!
What’s your favorite thing to do together? Outdoor activities- especially skiing and biking. Working out. Traveling whenever we have the chance!
How did you work together to finish the licensing process? We fit it in the nooks and crannies! We had support from another family to help with the kids while we went to training. That was incredible!
How did becoming foster parents impact your marriage? It tested our marriage. We are thankful Project 127 didn’t sugar coat anything in the training. If our marriage, our communication, hadn't already been in a good place, I honestly don’t know if we would have made it through the way we did. We both sought outside counseling/coaching to have outside perspective and wisdom. That was the best money we have spent.
Tell us about your kids. Anja is 10.5, Rose and Kade are both 9, one week apart to the day and hour! Ella is 8. January is our "triplet" month, when the younger three are all the same age. Fun! (But I still haven’t figured out how to plan that many birthday parties.) When we were in Foster Training, we were asked what kind of kids we were hoping to foster. We were being a bit silly and made a comment that we were looking for kids who liked to bike and ski. Well, our two new daughters love nothing more than to bike and ski! So many metaphors for life being tough and God giving us strength to overcome are being learned as the girls have now skied their first "double black" and earned the BLACK ski hat.
How have your kids impacted your marriage? Our marriage has been made richer - because of the tough times, the arguments, the frustrations with each other, the working it out - we feel more grounded, more stable for life's storms.
How do you show your kids how much you love each other? We hug lots in front of them. We talk about how we feel about each other in front of them. We want them to know that we, too, have hard times and God has given us His strength when we feel weak. We assure the kids our marriage is #1 and then it's them. They see us have date nights and take trips just the two of us. Our goal is that they trust our words and feel our love.
What were some fostering challenges you faced together? The system is super frustrating. It was hard to see past the "broken” system" some days, especially when we were so ready for our girls to start building up a more secure identity.
How did you support each other through the hard days as foster parents? This we are passionate about! We “kick each other out” often. We each chose a healthy outlet activity and made sure it was happening every day. Or MOST every day. For Andrew it is getting out on his mountain bike. For Janelle it is hitting the gym first thing in the morning.
What’s one thing you’ve learned about Andrew as you parent together? Andrew is consistent. I knew that about him when we first met on the cruise ship, and as we emailed and spoke on the phone while dating. He was true to his word. Now that we are parents, it is that exact characteristic that allows our kids to thrive and our marriage to be strong.
What’s one thing you’ve learned about Janelle as you parent together? Janelle can handle more than she thought. It is not my job to fix her, but to support her during tough times. Janelle needs her own time and sleep is vital for her to be full of the joys of spring! Janelle brings tenderness and fun to the kids’ lives.
What are some ways your church or support team help you keep your marriage strong? We recently moved to a smaller church and the community has been exactly what we were needing. Many other families in the church have adopted and fostered children. Recently, we shared about adoption during a service and it was very emotional to recap the past three years. The church has been such a support and encouragement to us.
What’s one thing you’d recommend to other couples considering foster care? If you feel called to foster, know that it WILL be hard. Don't be surprised when tough times come your way and you have moments of thinking, "Why am I putting myself through this?" Set up a fantastic counselor or coach ahead of time. The bottom line is foster children don't deserve any of this hardship. It's not easy for these kids. It's not going to be easy for you. That said, God wants you to show up in kids’ lives in the most powerful of ways. We have personally witnessed God on a whole new level as a family, as a couple and personally. Through the storms, we clearly see God's purpose, path and provision.
No one ever looks back on his or her life and says, "I'm so glad I took the easy road."
How can we pray for you and your family? Pray our children would have their identity cemented in Christ. That all four see how God is at work in their lives and the world. Pray they fully experience the joy that comes through hardship, even at a young age.
WHO WE ARE