‘I love kids. They’re just a part of my world’

Tammy Wallace wasn’t sure if she’d ever marry, but she loved kids and she wanted them to fill her home. Twenty-two years ago, she started fostering a 7-year-old girl. Then, she married Terry. He liked kids too. He moved into the house, and when that little girl turned 10, they adopted her.

“He was on board right away,” said Tammy. “He’d been a bit of a family friend all along since his sister and I were best friends. So, their whole family was fully aware that kids and fostering were a part of me.”

Terry and Tammy fostered together for about 15 years before he died five years ago. Tammy estimates that in that time, they took care of around 200 children. They even adopted three of them. Tammy also gave birth to two boys, which means she still has five children at home under the age of 16. That first girl they adopted? She’s 28 now and has five children of her own.

It would have been easy for Tammy to call it good and quit fostering after Terry died. No one would blame her. Some of her family members even encouraged her to quit. She couldn’t do it, though.

“I love kids. They’re just a part of my world,” she said. “I figure that if I have the space and the energy to take care of them and give them help, then that’s what God wants me to do. So, I talked with my foster care worker and said, ‘I’d love to continue doing this, but I’m going to need help with appointments and all those things,’ and they’ve been awesome about helping me get these kids where they need to go.”

A full-time teacher, Tammy admits it’s harder to foster without Terry. She misses having someone in the home to share tasks and discuss parenting decisions with her. But she has a good support network, and she’s a strong person. Right now, she’s fostering a 3-year-old girl who Tammy’s cared for since the child was seven months old. As soon as coronavirus clears enough to safely enter the courthouse, Tammy will adopt her too.

“All it takes to be a good foster parent is to be loving, caring, kind, and patient,” said Tammy. “Be organized and have big faith in God. That’s a big one. Without God, I would never have gotten through all the stuff I’ve experienced.”

This story originally appeared in the 75th anniversary issue of Hi-Lites. You can view past HiLites here.