The Morris Story
Photo by KL Photography
Note: We have blurred the faces of two of the Morris’ children because they are still in foster care.
It comes as no surprise that November has been aptly named National Gratitude Month. It only seems fitting that it also be National Adoption Month, a time for children and their families to celebrate the new opportunities they have been given to become one. The Morrises are one such family. Since completing the process to become foster parents in February of 2021, Adam and Jennifer Morris have provided a loving home and safe space for children and siblings of various ages. Their kind hearts and ability “to meet the needs of youth in their home, while showing love and patience” led to the couple recently being named Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (KDCBS) adoptive family of the year from the Two Rivers Service Region.
Turning Grief Into Good
Married for 18 years with two biological children, Adam and Jennifer said they had always discussed becoming foster parents, but the timing never seemed right.
“Jennifer wanted to foster years before this,” Adam said. “The reason we didn’t do it before is because I said, ‘We’re not ready; we can’t afford it.’”
Then, in April of 2019, Jennifer’s sister died suddenly in a car accident, causing all four of her nieces and nephews to go into the foster care system in Alabama.
“We prayed about this for many years,” Jennifer said. “When tragedy struck, we were like, ‘Okay. Let’s get our feet wet.’”
They began the process of becoming certified foster parents in the summer of 2020, in the midst of a pandemic. The family attended Zoom trainings and pivoted where necessary with the hope of gaining custody of Jennifer’s nieces and nephews. During that time, a grandparent was able to step in and provide a home for the children, allowing Adam and Jennifer to complete the process and take in children locally. Two of the boys they have now were some of their first placements.
“I like to look at my sister’s death as how God turns things into good,” Jennifer said. “For me to heal, I had to see that this is the good that came from her death.”
The couple is now raising six children between the ages of six and 18, including a biological daughter and son, three foster sons (one pending adoption), and a daughter they recently adopted.
You Will Never be Ready
Adam said that the couple is often asked how to know when the right time is to foster and when to say yes to the placements of certain children. He jokes that his wife “has always been a little extra,” and that when it was time to bring home a new dog, she came home with two. Likewise, their first foster placement was not one child, but three siblings.
“That’s when I had to let go of my constant fear and having to be in control,” Adam said. “If you wait for things to be perfect, the only thing you need to be prepared for is to have no control.”
As to how their two biological teenagers, Grace – 17 and Jaxson – 16, reacted to bringing new siblings into their home, the couple said they did not move forward with any placements until everyone was on board. Although Grace and Jaxson have been incredibly supportive of the process, there were still natural growing pains that came along with an expanding family.
“With all boys (at first), Jaxson had to share his things,” Jennifer said. “Then Brenda came, and Grace had to share her mom with a little sister.”
Jennifer says that amongst their overflowing calendars and busy schedules, the family loves each other through the chaos, and has fallen into a rhythm that works for them.
“We’re just living our life and just doing the best that we can,” Jennifer said. “God’s saying, ‘Just stay the course.’”
Beauty out of Brokenness
Although Adam and Jennifer attended the same church youth group in high school, they admittedly came from different upbringings. Jennifer shared that she grew up in a trailer park and often struggled with her mental health when she was younger.
“I come from a very broken family,” Jennifer said. “We began fostering because I wanted to be the adult that I needed as a kid.”
That life experience has helped Jennifer to walk alongside and guide her children through their brokenness.
“There is so much brokenness,” Jennifer said. “It’s literally in your backyard and we don’t see it because we choose not to. When we talk about the bad stuff it gets real and your heart gets broken. Those broken pieces of you, you have to be able to express that,” she said, adding that all of her children are in therapy to give them the opportunity to express themselves and focus on their mental health.
Adam and Jennifer have found genuine joy in opening their home and their hearts to foster care and adoption, but they admit that there is a darker side to foster care that isn’t always discussed.
“You go through a honeymoon period and then the real behaviors come out,” Jennifer said. “Behind every behavior there is a reason, because you are dealing with a very broken side of people. But, I love them all and respect them all. At the end of the day, everybody needs Jesus.”
It Takes a Village
The couple admits that it would be impossible to try to run and raise their family of eight without a little help. Adam serves as the worship and student pastor at Christ Community Church, while Jennifer is currently a full-time student in the Work Study program at Owensboro Technical & Community College (OCTC) working towards her associates degree, and ultimately a degree in social work. While the family has a natural heart for service, they also understand firsthand how important it is to have a support system.
“We couldn’t do it if it weren’t for our village — for our extended family and friends,” Adam said.
Adam shared the story of their first placement of three siblings and how God has always seemed to provide what they needed.
“We didn’t even have a bed for one of them,” Adam said. “The very next day, Borrowed Hearts brought us a brand new bed to our doorstep.”
Borrowed Hearts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide clothing, toys, furniture, and hygiene products to foster families in need.
“Borrowed Hearts of Owensboro literally clothed my babies,” Jennifer said. “It is the most magnificent resource we have as foster parents. Now our family, our church, our youth group, we do everything we can for Borrowed Hearts.”
As for how he feels about foster care now compared to a few years ago, and four children later, Adam says he’s had a complete change of heart and suggests that others be open to the process.
“We became certified and I put my stubbornness aside because every kid deserves a fighting chance,” Adam said. “Now that I see the world through these kids’ eyes, I’m like, ‘Just keep sending them.’ Have faith and jump in and God will provide.”