It should come as no surprise that Miles and Deborah Jordan were ready for a change. The Suffolk couple had taken in 94 foster children in 26 years, after all.
So, earlier this year, the Jordans adopted Tamiah, 9, Ronnie, 8, and 5-year-old twins Alijah and Amere.
That’s right. The change they wanted wasn’t peace, quiet and a well-earned rest. It was permanency.
“We’d gotten attached.”
Today, when the four youngest Jordans emerge from their school bus, which stops right in front of their house, they are bundled against the cold, but all smiles and full of news about the day. Amere (pronounced “Ah-meer”) ate a yucky-tasting cracker (a fate Alija somehow avoided); Ronnie wants to sign up for karate classes; Tamiah wrote a story (about an invader from outer space!). When the twins’ stories and explanations get confusing, Tamiah, like so many big sisters everywhere, gives business-like clarifications.
The kids are engaging, bubbly and cute, all right. But why take on such a big commitment now?
“We’d gotten attached to them!” says Deborah. “And they had no family to come up to the plate and take care of them. We prayed about it, and God led us to do it.”
Becoming foster parents
“We used to just take care of other people’s children,” Deborah said. This allowed some of the women in the neighborhood to have jobs. Then a newspaper ad got the Jordans thinking about foster care, and that idea led them to Lutheran Family Services of Virginia.
The Jordans look back at that time as a turning point, and not just because they started taking in foster kids (They already had a son and daughter, now both in their 30s). It was also what they learned in the meetings and training sessions for therapeutic foster care, and from putting the theories and techniques of therapeutic foster care into practice.
“We learned the ‘three P’s:’ Patience, priorities, plenty of love,” Miles said.
“Foster care changed my life. Kids with issues? I was impatient, I wanted to strike out. We have learned to be better people through foster care
Miles looks at his wife. “We both grew up without fathers,” he says, and Deborah nods. “How to be a man? A true father? I learned that.”
But there is no question who packs the most parenting wisdom, according to Miles.
“She’s the matriarch,” he says, looking again at Deborah. “She makes the rules. I’m the big goofy one, always ready to give in!”
“Hey, Mom! Hey, Dad!”
Thanks to their training in therapeutic foster care and their willingness to parent almost anyone who needed them, the Jordans took in many kids who otherwise might not have found foster homes. Kids who had experienced trauma of one kind or another, and who were still working through the effects. Teenagers. Sibling groups. A four-month boy was in the hospital with shaken baby syndrome. A teenage girl was pregnant.
They worked through it all. Miles took a four-month leave of absence from Newport News Shipbuilding to spend every day in the hospital with the little boy. When the pregnant girl had her baby, they brought mother and child home.
The Jordans began thinking seriously about adoption several years ago. Everything began to fall into place after Tamiah, Ronnie, Alijah and Amere came to the Jordan home in 2011 (a fifth sibling, the eldest sister, lives with her father).
The Jordans acknowledged their successes over the years every time a school bus unloaded kids at their house, some homework was completed or a previously sullen child said, “Thank you.” They’ve celebrated at countless family functions, many high school graduations and weddings (some conducted by Miles himself — he is pastor of nearby Bridge of Light Church in Suffolk) and over phone call after phone call.
“They always call,” Deborah says of their many former foster children.
“Hey, Mom! Hey, Dad!” Miles says, beaming.
Those are words Miles and Deborah are going to be hearing a lot, for a long, long time.