Pointing up at Jean MacDonald was a small index finger, grabbing for attention. “What’s up?” Jean asked the little girl. “Did you know you’re white?” the little girl said. With an astonished laugh, Jean looked down at the girl and said, “I am?”
That’s when Jean fell in love with Jasmine. At four years old, the little girl was in the foster care system with five of her siblings, two of who were being fostered by Jean. About four years later, Jasmine became an official part of the MacDonald family.
Jean has been fostering children for the past twenty-nine years, since she first fostered her sister’s children for a year. Jean usually fosters teenage boys because of her personal enjoyment in sports, camping, and traveling, and her love of fishing.
“(Foster care) is my passion. It’s something I’ll do to the day they put me in the ground … I absolutely love it,” Jean said. “If you remotely think that you could do this, if you’re saying to yourself I don’t know if I can do this, the answer is ‘yes, you can.’ If you have a caring desire to help children and teenagers, then I would say try it: You can’t fail.”
Jean’s foster children come to her through Catholic Charities of West Michigan (CCWM) located in Grand Rapids. Working through the Department of Human Services, CCWM president and CEO Deb Nykamp said they have hundreds of adoptions, and do the best they can to place foster children into loving homes.
“We really look for families who are very, very special and who can provide an emotional support … and provide a really safe home environment for them while we work to help the birth family get ready to have their children back,” Deb said.
Jean and Deb both emphasize the amount of need children have when it comes to having a foster family, an adoptive family, or simply donated clothes, food, and toys.
For more information about foster care or to donate, visit ccwestmi.org.
Written by: Chelsea Stoskopf, an intern at Serendipity Media. She's finishing up her journalism degree at Grand Valley State University and counting down the days to her wedding next July.