After caring for 18 foster children, Johnson adopts

Published 3:02 am Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Bobbie Johnson said there’s never been a time in her life when she didn’t have a child for whom to care.

And that includes the 18 children for whom she has provided foster care since 2012.

“When I lived in Mobile, I went to a church where they did a lot of outreach,” Johnson said. “We did a lot of mentoring for young moms and things like that. When I moved back to Andalusia, I thought that it would be nice to do something a little more for someone who really needs it.”

With connections she made through the Department of Human Resources, Johnson started taking the steps to become a foster parent.

“A couple of my friends from DHR told me that they are always looking for foster parents,” Johnson said. “I just kept making excuses, saying I was too busy, or I didn’t have time. It took me three years to finally decide to do it. I just thought that it would be a way to pay it forward and really help somebody that can’t help themselves.”

In 2012, her first foster child came as a set of four boys, ages 2, 4, 6 and 8, the most she has had in her household during her time as a foster parent.

“I guess I don’t have enough sense to be afraid of anything,” Johnson said. “I was just thinking, ‘Well, Bobbie this is what you wanted to do.’ I knew that it was going to be a lot, but I was going to give it my absolute best.”

To add to Johnson’s amazing story, she is a single foster parent.

“I don’t have any children of my own, I am just a single individual,” Johnson said. “I’ve always had children to take care of via nieces or nephews. I’ve just always had someone to take care of.”

Johnson said that  being a single foster parent is no different than being a single parent.

“It is really no different from being a regular single parent,” Johnson said. “I mean, you have the daycare challenges and the school challenges, it is just anything that any body else would go through as a single parent. I don’t think it’s any more or any less, because every child has their specific issues. Whether it is a foster child, or one that you brought home from the hospital. It is a little different, simply because these foster kids are coming from homes that had a lot of instability.”

She said the best thing about being a foster parent is seeing the children change during the time she keeps them.

“Being able to see them change from broken individuals into whole little happy children is the best thing,” Johnson said. “A lot of it you don’t see overnight, but weeks or months down the road, you start seeing them be happier, you see them thriving and that is the best part.  I am over 50 and I don’t remember a time in my childhood when my parents weren’t there, so I’m not even sure what that would be like. That’s why it is amazing to see when they have even just a little bit of stability.”

The longest a child has been in foster care with her was three years, and he’s now her adopted son.

“He came to me at 18 months old, in September 2015,” Johnson said. “And I adopted him last year on December 11. He actually turned 5 yesterday.”

She said that several people ask her if she will continue fostering now that she has adopted. Her answer is a resounding yes.

“Right now, I don’t have a placement full time,” Johnson said. “But if something comes up I would love to do a full time placement, because I got into fostering just as a way to give back. I did not get into fostering to adopt. Literally God put it in place and He still had to convince me. People always ask me when I decided to adopt and I always tell them that I didn’t decide. My son chose me. When he was brought to me, he was in another foster home the whole night. He was having a really bad night and when the DHR worker that had him came to my house, she told me that he had been crying all the way from Greenville, but he stopped crying as soon as they reached my street. I knew I was attached right then.”

Some advice that Johnson would give people thinking about foster care would be to take the chance.

“Step out on faith,” Johnson said. “Step out on who you know you are, because sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit. There are kids out there that need you.”

Johnson said that it is important to go over the top for these children.

“My boys were typical boys,” Johnson said, she said of the first group of four brothers. “They ate and drank a lot. They would usually drink four to five gallons of milk in a week. So I had to get another refrigerator just for their milk. A lot of these kids don’t have people that go over the top for them. They don’t even have the bare minimum. Especially for the older ones, for them to see that somebody is willing to do a little something extra for them, that really counts in their eyes.”