RICHMOND, Va. -- Deciding to become a foster parent is a life-changing decision. There is no mold a family has to fit into to provide a loving and caring home for children waiting to be reunited with their biological families, according to our partners at Connecting Hearts.
A year after Jordan and Emily Shea-Nielsen married, Jordan realized she wanted to start a family.
"I was driving home from work crying every day because I knew I had to have a conversation," she said. "I can't be complete if I don't have kids. I don't know what to do with those feelings."
As a same-sex couple, trying to have a child could mean very invasive and expensive procedures. Plus Jordan said she was terrified of the possibility of being pregnant.
The couple then considered foster care.
"This might be a chance to have seasons of parenthood and seasons of solitude and go from there," Emily said. "If we grow our family that way, we do, and if we don't, at least we'll be able to help out in the community, so it's kind of how it all started."
Foster parents for four years now, Jordan and Emily have helped many children. They currently have three girls, ages 11, 12, and 14.
The girls, who arrived as emergency placements last July, are in line to be adopted by Jordan and Emily.
"I don't remember what life was like back then," Emily said. "I can't recall a single detail of what life was like before they got here, because it just feels like they've always been here."
The couple also has a toddler boy who will soon be reunited with his biological parents.
While that's always the goal of foster care, it always brings mixed emotions.
"That loss is going to break that tiny little piece of our hearts that he has, but it's where he should be," Jordan said. "If he's safe, it's where he should be. And, so it's worth it to us for our hearts to break, so that their hearts don't have to break any more than they have."
These two moms also believe working with an agency that includes foster parents of all ages, races, and lifestyles sends an important message to the children.
"This is a life you can have. You can marry who you love, you can build a home with who you love, you can build a family with who you love, and it's not just about same-sex or single or married or divorced or anything else," Emily said. "It's just that kids are impressionable right now, and being able to see that whole picture."
A picture filled with love and family.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you can contact Connecting Hearts by calling 804-282-5644.
Note: To protect the privacy of these foster children, their faces have been blurred.