Local foster parents: ‘Best, hardest thing ever’

Grand Rapids
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It’s Tuesday, which means many of you will be tearing up as you watch NBC’s hit show “This is Us.”

Among the many story lines on the program is the relationship between the characters Randall and Beth and their decision to foster a teenaged girl named Deja.

For Stacey and Julian Goodson, it’s a story ripped straight from their lives.

“I have my ‘This is Us’ box of Kleenex right there because it requires a whole box each time I watch it. It hits so close to home. Everything they’re going through at some time we’ve experienced,” Stacey Goodson said.

The Goodsons have been together for eight years and married for six.

“On our first date, she asked me if I was ever interested in foster care and I said yes,” Julian Goodson said of his wife. “She likes to tell everybody that that’s when she knew she was going to marry me.”

Their unconventional family consists of six kids, two from a previous relationship and four who were adopted.

“It’s like a walking United Nations, really. Sometimes we don’t explain it,” Julian Goodson said.

But what they would like to explain is why they’ve dedicated their lives to fostering teenagers.

“It’s the best thing ever, it’s the hardest thing ever,” Stacey Goodson said.

Each of their four adopted children were their foster kids first. Their youngest daughter, now 14, came to their home two years ago and never left.

The photos on the walls of their home boast of strong family bonds, love and acceptance. They say teenagers know it’s a safe place.

Their lifestyle inspired Julian Goodson to write a book titled “Thoughts of a Foster Dad.” He was taken in by his aunt and uncle as a teen himself, so being a foster parent is a way of giving back.

“I wanted to share with the world that these kids need loving homes and teenagers are kids too,” he said.

The Goodsons hope that as America gets to know Randall, Beth and Deja, more people will consider opening their doors and hearts to teens.

“Any time it can be portrayed in a positive light within mainstream, then people realize there’s a need: ‘I have a loving home, let’s open it up to someone that needs it,'” Julian Goodson said.

D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s holds monthly Foster Parent and Older Child Adoption Orientation meetings. The next one is March 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s North Conference Room, 805 Leonard St. NE in Grand Rapids. If you have questions or for more information contact Lisa Puente at lpuente@dabsj.org or 616.774.4310.

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