Foster Care Helps A Forever Love Find A Forever Family Of 10
Many people use foster care to find or complete their forever family, the Balls, however, found so much more.
First things first, Abby and Tony Ball have known each other since Elementary School. While they didn’t stay in touch past that, their playground friendship was not forgotten. In 2004 the two reconnected at Epworth (Iowa) Elementary School when their new teaching positions began. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of a romance. After dating for two years the happy couple tied the knot in 2006.
Teaching Open Hearts
18 years later and both Abby and Tony are still educators. Abby is currently working as a visiting assistant professor of education at Clarke University in Dubuque. While Tony continues to teach physical education in the Western Dubuque Community School District.
Abby acknowledges that her role as a teacher was significant in making her long for a larger family. In an interview with Telegraph Herald, she said,
I always envisioned having a big family. Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved children. I think that’s why I also had the aspiration to teach.
Building A Forever Family
Over the next few years, the Balls would welcome three children of their own before opening their home to fostering in 2014. Their first set of fosters were Kior, Makenna, and Omari. Their younger sibling Calvin was not born yet.
The courts were able to reunify the siblings with their birth mother for a time but on November 3rd, 2017 they all returned back to the foster care system. At this point, Abby and Tony knew they belonged together and moved to adopt the siblings, along with then 18-month-old Calvin.
We had become a family. After the three had left us the first time, there was a piece missing. When they returned with Calvin, it was just right.
Adapting And Growing As A Family
In 2019, the Balls decided to downsize to support bigger goals, one of them being a five-week trip to visit national parks across the United States.
The goal was to give the kids an opportunity to see things they had never seen before. But the biggest thing was to focus on spending more quality time together as a family and removing things that distracted us from that.
They plan on taking a second road trip, this time they want to hit up the eastern half of the United States, ending in Alabama.
Embracing The Change
One of the most wonderful things we find with forever families is how children adapt. Abby recounts what happened in her home,
The changes in our family have been very real to experience, but we acknowledge that we are all one family forever. The children have accepted one another as siblings, but they also have learned so much from each other and about their differences. It has been beautiful to watch those relationships continue to grow.
To Tony and I, it is a beautiful thing that changed our family for the better in many ways. It comes with challenges, as all things in life do, but we were able to work through those challenges because we deeply had a passion to help children in the foster system and knowledge of working with children with different strengths and needs. We were very fortunate to fall in love with four beautiful children that enhanced every aspect of our family.
Words of Advice for Families Looking to Adopt Through Foster Care
For those looking to foster and adopt here are some words of advice from Abby.
Sometimes, people see pictures of our family and think that our life is perfect and make foster and adoption look easy, but nothing is perfect, including my family. We work hard to continuously grow as a family, and sometimes, that comes with sacrifices and change. Everyone has their own passion and gifts, and if a love for children and helping families reunify is one’s passion and gift, then foster and adoption might be a great avenue, and our community could use great people to join the foster system.
Thanks to the Ball family for sharing their forever love story. Congratulations on finding your beautiful family!
For those looking to help kids in foster care while they wait for their forever homes, get involved with Together We Rise here.