Jennifer stood by the window, nervously peeking through the curtains, as she waited for her new caregivers to arrive. Her heart pounded as she watched the car pull into the gravel driveway. As Emmanuel, Sarahi and their two children stepped out of the car, Jennifer broke into a wide smile. She was excited, but nervous too. She knew this day was important, but she was uncertain of what to expect. Slowly, she gathered her courage and opened the heavy front door to greet her new family.
2015 has been a transformational year for Douglas Children’s Home. This summer, the dorms were outfitted with a kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and laundry area—renovations designed to facilitate family-style living. Each dorm now functions as its own independent family within the Douglas campus. It’s within the walls of the newly-renovated homes that children like Jennifer are catching their first glimpse of healthy family life.
Providing family-style care means Israel can confide in his house mom, Marlin, after a friend at school hurt his feelings. It means Joel and Viviana can lead evening devotionals and pray with each boy before heading off to bed. Family-style care means dinners are no longer around a long plastic table in a noisy cafeteria. Instead, the children gather around a wooden dinner table with quiet music playing in the background as they share about their day. Some nights are filled with laughter, as the children recap an adventure at the playground. Others are teeming with tears and frustration from a low test score at school. Family-style care allows house parents to provide deeper support and care for each individual child as they navigate life’s challenges.
Transitioning each dorm hasn’t been easy. There has been laughter mixed with heartache. But for the four couples and two single women who serve as house parents in the dorms at Douglas, this is their family. Their own biological children live alongside orphaned children. It’s messy but beautiful. It’s challenging but it’s transformational—exactly how a family should be.