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Meet BNFEC’s Foster Parents: Roger and Karen Hensley

We were pleased to introduce a great set of foster parents. Locals of WNC, they have been fostering children on and off for 20 years.  They are such a sweet couple who have the heart and passion to see children succeed. Let’s meet them!

How long have you been married? 46 years.  We met when I was in the 5th grade, Roger was my school bus driver. (Back then you could be in high school and drive the school bus) We dated throughout high school for four years.

What is the secret to staying married so long? Love is not just kissing and hugging, it is all about knowing each other, make sure you all are best friends and pray. If the Lord was not in our lives, we would not still be together.

How many children and grandchildren do you have? We have 3 biological children and 1 adopted child. Our 8 grandbabies are our world, ranging newborn to 21.

What was your favorite part about raising children?  To know that they were listening to us and some of what we said actually stuck.  We love giving foster children new experiences they never had growing up.

What life experiences lead you to being a foster parent? Roger – I was adopted and raised by my grandparents, so I am able to relate to some of what these children are going though. Karen – I got a PT job working at a psychiatric hospital.  I never thought children could act the way they did. That hospital is where I got my first taste of the affects abuse can have on children.  They were so traumatized, but I wanted to see them succeed more than anything.  I fell in love; my eyes were opened.

Why did you decide to foster?  Someone told us we should become foster parents. We talked about it and we did. We had two arms, two empty rooms, and open hearts. We started off by doing a lot of respite, and then we had our first foster child, Tiffany, whom we fell in love with. I knew the day she came for respite I wanted to keep her. We found out the next week she was up for adoption so we adopted her in 2005. The crazy thing is our best friend adopted her brother, so we were able to co-parent each of them.

What do you enjoy the most about fostering? The best part is seeing how they change and how what you do, influences them. Its so hard for them to leave their home, so to be able to see those little glimpses of a smile and to get a hug; the joy of sitting and watching TV or go to church together. There is just nothing like it. There is just nothing like seeing them smile.

hensleys2What advice would you give parents who are thinking about becoming foster parents? Pray and Try it. It does not take much to love a child, just open your heart and let them come in.  You can’t take it personal, when they get nasty with you. You have to step back outside of yourself, breathe, and know that they are not angry at you. Let them vent, take a timeout, or you personally take a time out.  Also foster parents need to take care of themselves. Do not hesitate to get the respite you need. Take that time for you to just hang lose. Being a foster parent is a 24 hour job.

What do you all do in your free time?  Roger I used to collect model cars. When I was little, I could name every single car that went down the street.  Now I just like to relax, take walks, or watch television.  Karen – I like to volunteer with the church, take food and items to people in need, and just help out.

What is your favorite holiday?  Karen – I love thanksgiving because we are able to have all the family together in one place.  Roger – Memorial Day is my holiday because it symbolizes warm weather coming back. I do not like the cold.

If you could have any super power what would it be? To fly! I would like to fly to Africa.

What would you name the autobiography of your life? KarenThe little girl who was always looking in Roger – The life and times of an ordinary man

Finish this sentence. Family is… Family is Life.  Family is Being Together.