OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe family is growing after deciding to adopt two teens in foster care.
Kelsey and Jason Stock had an agreement before they were married: they would foster children one day.
"We're normal, we are not extraordinary people, we’re doing this because we love kids and we care about kids and we love people," Kelsey Stock said.
After having their first three biological children, they decided last year it was time to grow their family.
"COVID really taught us that there is no time like the present, and we cannot wait to do this," Kelsey Stock said.
The couple took foster parent classes through KVC Kansas to receive the proper licensing. They first fostered three younger children. While taking classes, Stock said they realized the great need for foster parents of teens.
"I didn’t understand the degree of the trauma that these kids endure before coming into care and it was really heart-wrenching," Stock said.
Stock said some foster parents advised them against fostering teens.
"People had cautioned us to take teenagers because they are challenging and they can be really difficult, but we just felt that that’s what we needed to do, we felt in our hearts that that was what we needed to do," Stock said.
The couple fostered a 14-year-old girl in August 2020. Within two weeks, they knew they would adopt her.
"It was instant, she just fit into our family seamlessly," Stock said.
Stock said the girl was shocked to learn she would be adopted. She had been in multiple homes over the last six years and had accepted that she would never be adopted.
"Seeing how different her life is going to be because we came into each other’s lives, versus where it was going, I mean it’s going to be an honor for the rest of my life seeing her grow into the person that she’s going to be," Stock said.
According to KVC Kansas, the majority of kids in foster care are older than 8 years old, and it's most difficult to find homes for foster kids older than 12.
Teens who age out of the system face a much greater chance of homelessness, young parenthood and other challenges.
Megan Maciel, KVC director of recruitment and communication, said less than 3% of teens who age out of the system go on to finish college.
Maciel said there is a giant need for more foster parents and many resources available for those who are interested.
"I think a lot of families rule themselves out for foster care, they think oh my house isn’t big enough or maybe you are a single parent or a same-sex couple, any family is a family to KVC," Maciel said.
As the Stocks prepare to adopt their foster teens, they can't wait to see the lives they'll both go on to live.
"It’s going to be an honor for the rest of my life," Stock said.
Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent can visit kansas.kvc.org.