We just closed out Season 11 of The Forgotten Podcast, and it was our most listened-to season of the podcast ever! SO exciting! In today’s bonus episode, I am joined by Mitch Nelson, our Creative Director here at TFI, to reflect on some of our favorite moments and takeaways from Season 11.
Creating and sharing this podcast is such a privilege and honor to us, and we hope revisiting some of these conversations and highlights is as encouraging for you as it is for us. We can’t thank you enough for listening, sharing, and supporting this podcast, and we look forward to experiencing Season 12 alongside you in the new year!
Want to catch some of the episodes we talked about today? You can find them here:
Tod and Gretchen Sawyer’s world was turned upside down when they lost their first biological daughter. They decided to honor her memory by sponsoring a child through the local Department of Social Services, which was the beginning of their foster care journey. God led them to become aware, which led them to take action. In addition to being some of our newest TFI Advocates in Aiken County, SC, Tod & Gretchen have been foster parents for ten years now. Above all else, God has shown them again and again how His plan for their life was different, and better, than their own. I hope this conversation will be an encouragement to you!
Content / Trigger Warning: This episode does contain mentions and descriptions of abuse, rape, attempted suicide, self-harm, and trauma. If any of this may be triggering for you, we recommend you either listen carefully, listen with someone else, or you may even consider skipping this episode.
Tricia Collins’ primary memory from her childhood was one of fear. Tricia grew up in and aged out of the foster care system after she was the victim of horrific abuse at the hand of her dad. But through the people God placed in her life, she overcame obstacles and started to find healing from what was done to her. In this conversation, Tricia openly shares her story, how God worked through other people to pursue her, what it has looked like for her to experience healing, and the eternal impact one foster family had on her life. Today, she is the Director of Missional Impact at Child Bridge in Montana, connecting the church to the needs of children in foster care and asking them to step in and make a difference like Jesus did for us. Tricia’s story is an absolute glory to God, and we are grateful to share it with you today.
Did you know there’s a lot of crossover between the characteristics that make someone vulnerable to human trafficking and common characteristics of children in foster care? Did you also know that a significant percentage of victims nationwide have a history in the child welfare system?
Whether you are a foster parent, adoptive parent, or someone that wants to learn how to spot the warning signs of human trafficking, we all have a duty to be aware of what those are. In this episode, I’m talking with Meghan Reedy, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and the Clinical Director of Eden's Glory, a restoration home for adult survivors of human trafficking. She shares about the women they have been able to support at Eden’s Glory, how traffickers will typically prey on disadvantaged people, common red flags you should be on the lookout for, how she remains
hopeful through the heartache, and a whole lot more.
If you are a victim of human trafficking or know someone else who may be, call the Human Trafficking Hot Line at 888-373-7888 or text 233-733
Trent Taylor’s earliest memories are filled with abuse and extreme neglect. These circumstances led to entering foster care at the age of four where he would remain until he was nine years old. After he was adopted, it was a long and painful process to establish trust and work through the trauma he had experienced, but he found that there was hope. In this episode, Trent shares some of the common misconceptions people have about foster children, how to support a child working through trauma, the reality that healing requires pain, and a look back on his own story and how God is using his life in some incredible ways.
This episode honestly hit me hard. I was an emotional wreck by the end! If you’ve ever wondered how foster care would affect your biological children, if you are feeling the weight of it all right now, or if you grew up in a family that did foster care, this episode is for you.
James Drayer was just four years old when his parents became houseparents at Gateway Woods, a ministry that offers Christ-centered social services in northeast Indiana, including Residential Childcare, On-Grounds Schooling, Foster Care, Gateway Farms, Adoption, and the LARC Program.
In this heartfelt conversation, James shares with us what it was like to grow up helping kids with trauma, the impact that experience has had on him throughout his life, and how God transformed his heart to follow in his parents footsteps. I’m praying you will feel seen, and refreshed, as you listen!
Today I have a special conversation that I’m excited to share with you. Most often, we view the world of foster care through the lens of foster parents, former foster youth, or those that support foster families and children. But today we get to hear Brenna Hunter’s story, a parent that had her kids removed and walked the path back to reunification. Brenna graciously shares her journey of growing up in a Christian, homeschool family, struggling with insecurities and an unhealthy relationship with food, the circumstances that led to her two children entering foster care, placing her dependency on Jesus, and the journey that ultimately led to reunification. Her story is powerful and I really appreciated Brenna joining me for this conversation. This episode holds some important reminders to both foster parents and biological parents alike. No matter your role, there is hope and you are not alone!
Friends, I have such a fun episode to share with you today! Isn’t it crazy how God can redirect our passions to make a difference in ways we never dreamed possible? This is Leah Johnson’s story. Leah lives in North Carolina and has been a TFI Advocate in Mitchell and Yancey Counties for over a year now and she is sharing how God has used her passion to lead her on a journey to ultimately partner with us at TFI. In this episode, she shares her story, the incredible God stories of being able to provide for various needs in her community, what her relationship has been like with local agencies, becoming God-conscious instead of self-conscious, and more. Hoping this conversation is an encouragement to you today!
You can sign up now to make a difference in your community: tfiadvocate.org
From the age of 15, Javian Shipley felt the desire to foster. It’s a calling she has passionately carried with her into her marriage and is living out today. But her journey has not been easy. In addition to the challenges of being a foster parent, she has also walked through infertility. In this episode, Javian shares what she has learned through the grief and pain of her own story, how she and her husband found unity in their decision to foster, why we need to be intentional about our perspective towards biological parents, the value of anchor Scriptures, and how God has continued to show up again and again and again.
My guests today know what it feels like to say “no.” AJ and Katrina Nowaczyk have fostered nine children, so far. And while they didn’t set out to only foster, they have learned a lot whenever the opportunity to adopt one of their foster kids came up. In many cases, circumstances pointed to needing to say “no.”
If you’ve ever felt the internal struggle between yes and no, I hope this episode is a support for you and a reminder that there’s simply no perfect formula for making hard decisions.
It’s not uncommon for us to talk about the unique balance of brokenness and beauty in foster care. In this episode, I am joined by someone who has experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly of the foster care system. Darren Morris is a father and husband, a store manager of a Starbucks, small business owner, and founder of a soon-to-be nonprofit, A Foster’s Hope. He entered the foster care system at the age of four and was eventually adopted eight years later into a family that now has 17 kids. (You read that right! 17!) In this honest conversation, Darren shares the impact of being a young kid bouncing around in the system, how his foster care experience has shaped who he is today, the value of mentors in his life, the redemption he’s seen in his story, and how he’s navigated trauma and overwhelming emotions.
Britanie Ramirez and her family have said “yes” to opening their home 26 times. Like all of us, Britanie started out with some preconceived ideas about the goal of fostering but, through her journey, God has taught her about the meaningful and challenging realities of stepping into a family’s brokenness. In this conversation, she shares about seeing collateral beauty in brokenness, recognizing what we’re actually rooting for as foster parents, why it’s 100% worth it to step into foster care, and reminders to celebrate the small wins. I know you’ll be encouraged by this one!
What impact does a safe adult have in a child’s life? It’s nearly impossible to measure. In this episode, we have the incredible privilege to welcome Jaymi Matranga, who has experience across the gamut of foster care. Jaymi is not only a social worker today, but also a foster and adoptive parent (she took her first placement at 19!), and was in the foster care system herself. She was removed from her home at the age of 13 and considers herself to be one of the “lucky” ones as she truly felt heard and supported in a unique way by her caseworker. I know you’ll be inspired by her story and supported by the wisdom she has to share!
Does your child ever just get on your last nerve? Have you had a meltdown of your own after a really hard day? Does it feel like your parenting techniques that have worked with other kids in your care just aren't working anymore? As parents, we’ve all experienced this more times than we would care to count. When our kids have significant trauma in their past, and we have our own triggers from our past, it can make for a really challenging journey.
Ryan and Kayla North know firsthand what that is like! They have 10 years under their belt as foster parents and today they develop training and programs on childhood trauma. Join me as Ryan and Kayla share perspective shifts we need when raising kids with traumatic backgrounds, how our own childhood trauma may be impacting our relationship with our kids, practical ways to parent with connection as the primary goal, why we can’t care for our children if we’re not caring for ourselves, and so much more. This was such a rich episode, and I look forward to hearing what stands out most to you!
Chris and Jihae Watson are just two of the “Watson Nine” as they affectionately call their family. Over half of their children have come by way of adoption and they have been foster parents for six years. In today’s episode, my friends share how their relationship started, the joys and hard lessons they’ve picked up along the way, how they manage such a large family, and the importance of our role as foster, adoptive, and biological parents. I can’t wait to share this conversation with you!
When Jonathan Pitts took his wife of 15 years into his arms for their anniversary dance, he had no idea that within a month he would be on a completely different journey, navigating life after Wynter's sudden death at the age of 38.
Have you experienced loss? Difficult times? Frustrating circumstances? Most of us have felt grief at some point in our lives. In this episode, Jonathan openly shares his own experience of grief through the unexpected passing of his late wife, Wynter. He also shares how he has learned to be willing to process grief, how God shows up during difficult times, and his outlook on future hardships. This is such a powerful and honest conversation on how we can respond to difficult circumstances.
Today’s guest is familiar with saying goodbyes. Jamie Finn, host of the Real Mom Podcast, co-founder of Goods & Better, and the director of Foster the Family, has fostered many children over the years. In this episode, she shares her heart for foster care, how to renew and reorient your mind to do this work well, one of the most difficult decisions she’s ever made, and how she has coped with the fleetingness of fostering as well as the emotions that come along with it. If you are new to fostering or if you’ve been in this world a while, I know you will be encouraged and blessed by Jamie’s perspective!
If you are a long-time listener, you may notice this is an off-week for the podcast. Last month, we celebrated 10 years as a ministry! As we enter National Foster Care Month this month, what better time to imagine and reflect together on how we can continue to support our nation's foster care community effectively? In this bonus episode, I take some time to reflect on the last 10 years and share a little bit of what we're dreaming about here at The Forgotten Initiative!
Today’s guests are some of my favorite people and are no strangers to the call to foster or adopt. Jamey and Sarah McIntosh are TFI Advocates in Chippewa Valley, WI who felt the pull to this work early in their lives (even before they were married!). They have such a big heart for foster care, adoption, and advocacy. I hope you will be inspired by their journey and the lessons they have picked up along the way, how God has shaped them in the waiting periods, and even how they’ve learned to let go of control.
Each of us have a story. Hard seasons. Beautiful seasons. And times where we’ve seen God’s faithfulness. And today, I’m excited to share the powerful story of my guest, Annie Marek-Barta. Annie grew up in an unsafe home that ultimately led her to decide she would take her own life. Through a series of God-ordained conversations and events, she found hope and healing. In today’s conversation, she shares that whole story, what it was like to enter foster care at the age of 17, and the emotional experience of being adopted at 26. (And yes, that’s a thing!) I hope this episode inspires you and reminds you of the faithfulness of our God and why you do what you do.
Did you know that we’re celebrating 10 years of ministry this month!? God has truly been so faithful!
And what better way to celebrate than to share such a special conversation on the podcast?
This week’s guest is Amanda Auer, a mom of 4 who has an incredible story walking through a difficult journey of kinship care. You’ll hear her talk about what it was like to be educated about trauma on-the-fly, how challenging circumstances make our faith more concrete, what it looks like to live a life of compassion and surrender, and so much more. This conversation was incredibly rich, and I was just soaking in everything she said. I look forward to hearing what stands out to you!
Today’s episode is about a topic that’s actually quite common, but doesn’t often get talked about: food trauma. This episode is so informative, practical, and inspiring. My guest is Christa Jordan, who is an adoptive mom. She and her husband also both have a background in social work before they began careers as full-time writers. Christa is passionate about natural health, and equipping and encouraging others along the journey.
There is nothing I love more than hearing about God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficult situations, and that’s exactly what today’s episode is all about. Shaq Hardy is a youth pastor in Chattanooga, TN who spent the first 10 years of his life in foster care. Today, he openly shares about his experience in multiple foster homes, the challenge of living with Reactive Attachment Disorder, the hope he so clearly found in Jesus, and so much more. And towards the end of our conversation, he even shares a piece of spoken word poetry he wrote to process his life experience. Shaq’s story alone is powerful, but his perspective is even more compelling. Listen in!
Today’s guest truly is an inspiration. Dani Brewer is a full-time wedding and family photographer, a single foster parent, as well as a transracial adoptee. She shares about how God prompted her to step in to foster care even though she didn't feel ready and she shares honestly about how she’s been able to effectively care for a now-16-month-old and 4-month-old as a single mom, the barriers she’s overcome, and the irreplaceable value of strong community. Her spirit is so encouraging, and I look forward to hearing what stands out to you in this conversation!
I am so excited to be sharing this episode! My guest today has such a powerful story that needs to be shared. Born in India, Shreya Ramachandran was brought to the U.S. at only two years old. She struggled with her identity and culture growing up. She lost her father when she was ten years old. After this, a series of events led her into foster care, where she ultimately had to testify against her mother and abuser in court. And through it all, God’s presence and His Word were the anchors that kept her grounded. Her story inspired me, and I look forward to hearing how it impacts you as well.