Paying it Forward as Foster Parents

Johns FamilyThe author Albert Pike said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

This idea is what motivated Clyde and Jessie John to become foster parents. It all began when John came from the Virgin Islands as a child to live with his older brother and sister-in-law in New York.

“They gave him an opportunity,” says Jessie. “He may have never had that if they hadn’t taken him in and brought him to this country. John and I will always be grateful for that.”

When the Palm Bay couple decided to do something to give back into the community, friends suggested they try foster parenting.

“Our children were all grown up and had moved out on their own,” she says. “So we prayed about it and asked the Lord to open that door for us. We proceeded and God did open the doors … and we have been fostering ever since!”

The Johns became foster parents in 1997 and over the years have cared for 16 children. Though they’ve always enjoyed the children in their care, there have been ups and downs. The couple once had to let go of a foster child who was being adopted. After saying goodbye to the little girl they had loved, the Johns lost touch with her. But there have been many more happy memories along the way.

Jessie recalls family fun at her nephew’s wedding last year, when her foster son Alex surprised her on the dance floor.

“He has never been interested in music or any such thing,” she says. “He would always say it’s to loud and cover his ears. But that day, Alex got on the dance floor and danced with me! I’ll never forget it!”

For those considering foster parenting, the Johns have this advice: “Becoming a foster parent will give you the opportunity to change and influence a child’s life. The rewards of seeing that child strive and develop are tremendously gratifying.”

Jessie smiles as she thinks of all the children who have thrived and grown in her home. “You’ll have the joy of knowing that you made an effect on the character of a child’s life.”