ORLANDO, Fla. – A Central Florida couple is sharing their story of how their life has changed after becoming a foster family one year ago.
"We've had kids for almost eight months and we've had them from newborns from the hospital to up to 3 years old," Chad said.
He and and his wife of 17 years, Holly, made the life-altering decision to foster right around the same time that she got accepted into a master's program.
"At first he was like: 'Are you kidding me?' Like this has gotta be the worst timing of anything that you've ever come up with," she recalled with a laugh.
But Chad was on board and six months later they opened their home and hearts to their first foster child. Since taking that leap, they've fostered 13 kids.
"I think it's brought everybody closer together as far as her and I and us and our twins," the now-foster dad said.
The couple have 10-year-old twins who help out in the process.
"We wondered how this would affect our kids with attachment, seeing kids come and go so that was definitely a concern but from day one these kids have truly, truly been like siblings to them," Holly said. "They always want to help, almost too much sometimes. We're like, 'I'm the mom, like, I can handle this."
Today, Chad and Holly are fostering two sets of siblings.
"I love it. I like having all the little kids - like 24/7. I like having them a lot," their 10-year-old daughter said.
As for her twin brother, he is just as happy.
"I like kids in general 'cause their speech - cracks me up. I love 'em. So having toddlers in the house is so much fun," Grant said. "Having a bunch of kids, it's like, people say: 'How do you do it?' And it's like, 'God helps us.'"
Holly said she hopes her and her family can have a positive impact on the children they foster.
"I think they see the beauty that fostering can bring, that there's so much that we can do in whatever time we have with them," Holly said.
"They've not felt left out or there's not been jealousy. It's actually kind of bonded everybody together. It's given us all one more thing we're in love with," Chad said.
Although there is a stigma that's sometimes tied to foster children, Chad says it's about patience and giving them what they need.
"That's the big issue I think, is people assume that the kids are bad kids and that they're gonna have problems and that's not the case at all," he said. "Because there's been a lot of kids in our house that haven't had a lot and so you know, you give them the chance to play and to have fun and to have some toys, they're great kids, they're awesome kids. They want what every other kids wants."
Holly is grateful to have the experience.
"It's just been more than we ever could've imagined, I'm glad that we took that leap of faith," she said.