Former Foster Child Now Providing a Loving Home to Children in Need
With Ashlee Terry having her two brothers as neighbors and her sister living just 15 minutes away, the Apollo-area foursome enjoys the familial bond that the close proximity allows.
However, this was not always the case as a complicated childhood led to separation, challenges, and for Ashlee, the desire to help other children in need.
“When I was younger, my siblings and I were in the system,” Ashlee explained. “My mother moved around a lot. My younger brother [Zachary] and I were born in Texas, but my sister [Gracie] and my oldest brother [Ethan] were born in Pennsylvania.”
When she was just 9 years old, Ashlee and her siblings were separated. She went to live with her great-grandmother while Zachary went with a different grandmother, both in Texas. Ethan lived with his father in Pennsylvania and Gracie was adopted out in Pennsylvania.
At the age of 16, Ashlee found a source of much-needed stability when she began dating her high school sweetheart, Jessie. The couple later married and moved to Pennsylvania in 2016. When Zachary turned 14, the couple took him in on a temporary guardianship.
“Having been through all of that was definitely a push with deciding to foster,” she stated. “I know how some of these kids feel and if I could make an impact of any kind to them, then I told myself I would do it. My husband is 1000 percent supportive and feels the same way. We knew that there are so many children out there that just need to feel loved and safe and we knew we had plenty of love to give.”
Having learned of Adelphoi from one of Jessie’s friends who has worked with the organization for many years, the couple decided to begin their journey as foster parents. They opened their home to Daryl, 5, approximately a year-and-a half ago.
“He is a fun-loving, energetic 5-year-old, soon to be 6,” said Ashlee. “He definitely keeps us moving.”
For Ashlee and Jessie, one of the most rewarding things about being foster parents has been watching Daryl grow and develop. “He has learned self-confidence and found his little voice,” she said.
While she stated the family has shared many special moments, one in particular stands out.
“We were teaching Dar [sic] to ride a bike. He was so determined and he wouldn’t stop until he got it down. The joy on his face when he could finally throw the training wheels off was everything,” she recalled. “He was so proud of himself. It’s those little moments that make it all worthwhile.”
Despite the many good times, Ashlee admits that fostering also comes with its challenges.
“Fostering is hard,” she bluntly stated. “There are many challenges with how things are constantly changing throughout certain cases, learning how to work around certain schedules and dealing with the thousands of things that come with fostering. However, it is all worth it just to see these kids smile and know that everything is alright.”
While they have not adopted any children yet, Ashlee claims they are definitely open to doing so should the opportunity arise.
“If anyone is thinking of becoming foster/adoptive parents, I would just say really, really think hard on it,” advised Ashlee. “It is such a wonderful journey, but it does get tough, very tough. Your entire world will change, but it’s worth it.”