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Foster Mom to Forever Mom

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Mother’s Day means a little something different to Rooftopper Renee Jeep this year.

Officials signed paperwork this week and set a date for her to adopt three adorable children – Stephen, 5, Vaeh, 4, and Maya, 3. Next month, her foster kids will become her forever kids.

“When I started fostering, I was open to whatever God placed in front of me,” Renee said. “I got better at trusting him and believing that his plan was bigger than mine.”

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God spent years preparing Renee for this moment. She never really liked kids until she took a job at a center for at-risk youth. Her heart broke for their pain, but she didn’t have a home to share.

Renee eventually moved in with her Aunt Jane, a high-school teacher who also passionately loved children. Tragically, Jane developed breast cancer and died in 2010. The grief crushed Renee, but God used the loss for good. In her will, Jane left her house to Renee.

“I always thought God had a plan for me to use my home for something more – to share it and fill it,” Renee said. “But I wasn’t sure how that was supposed to look.”

Renee thought about fostering children a lot but didn’t commit until she felt God speak to her through a friend.

“She said, ‘Just do it. You will not regret it,’” Renee recalled. “I think I needed to hear that. That day, I got online to find out how to get certified.”

The ink wasn't dry on her certification papers when state officials called her with a request to take a sibling group – two girls and a boy – with severe trauma. She loved them, but every day was a struggle to care for them.

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“There was never a moment when I was ready to check out,” Renee said. “There were times that I didn’t know what to do, who to ask for help or how to get through the day. But I was all in at that point.”

Officials eventually sent the sisters to homes where they would get skilled therapy and reunited the boy with his father. The experience left Renee emotionally exhausted, and she took a short break from fostering.

A few months later, she was ready to open her heart again. In June 2015, Stephen, Vaeh and Maya – who were 2, 1 and six-months-old at the time – came to live with her.

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Renee, 39, who is a co-owner of Lifeguards Unlimited, never really imagined getting married and having a baby, but she always wanted to be a mom. A single parent raised Renee, so she knew the challenges.

 “It’s an extra challenge doing it on my own,” Renee said. “Every day, at some point, I think about how it might be different if I had a partner.”

God used fostering to shape her faith.

“At first, it was just so hard. I was so desperate to want things my way. I prayed a lot that God would do it the way I wanted it, and almost always, that didn’t happen.” Renee said. “He showed me life was going to happen his way, and that way was going to be better.”

The adoption hearing is set for June 27.  Renee said her kids are very connected to each other and very good at loving people.

And even though Mother’s Day for a single mom with small children isn’t much different than any other day, this one will be sweeter.

"I love being a mother," Renee said. "Mother's Day is almost an excuse to just be with my kids and let go of all the other stuff for one day."

For more information about fostering and adoption, contact Rooftop's Fostering Faithful Families ministry at fff@rooftop.org.