Family Passes Tradition of Fostering Down to Next Generation
When Terry and Gloria Kshir adopted their sons Justin and Shawn two decades ago, not only did they change the course of their lives, but also the lives of a future generation as Justin embarks on his own journey as a foster/adoptive parent.
“We started fostering in 1999,” began Gloria, of Blossburg, PA, who learned of Adelphoi from a family friend. “We have fostered approximately 180 kids over the years. Some were short term, some were long term, some were overnight and some were kinship.”
The couple, who has four biological children, were still relatively new to fostering when they opened their home to the brothers, ages 11 and 12. Originally from New York, they had lost their birth mother when she was just 29 years old and entered the foster system at a very young age.
“As a child, I was in 13 different foster homes,” said Justin. “I can remember my first home at the age of 5. There were some good homes that I enjoyed to be at and some that were terrible. They weren’t in it for the right reasons,” he added.
Gloria reflected upon the early days when Justin and Shawn, who are both afflicted with heart conditions, first came to them and how they quickly bonded with their new family.
“On the third day they started calling us mom and dad,” she laughed.
“They were so grateful for everything,” Gloria warmly recalled. “They were so happy to have clean clothes, pillows and blankets.
“We got groceries one day. We went to Walmart and had two big carts full. We bought two pounds of grapes and the next morning they were gone. Justin said they never had fruit. I told him they would never be without fruit here.”
After fostering the boys for approximately a year, the Kshirs officially adopted them.
“Being adopted was a big deal for me and my brother,” said Justin. “Our new parents, Gloria and Terry, gave us something we never had — a stable home.”
The security and support they found in their new living situation allowed the boys to blossom on all levels.
“Justin grew 14 inches in one year,” Gloria said. “The school nurse called us. They thought he had Marfan Syndrome. He didn’t, it was just getting those kids in an environment where they could grow physically and mentally made such a difference.
“It was so rewarding and felt so good to see how much they grew,” she continued. “Having the opportunity to give them family time, meals, vacations, it was all very rewarding.”
Life came full circle for the Kshir family when Justin and his wife, Emily, decided to follow in his parents’ footsteps and foster/adopt through Adelphoi.
“He said he wanted to be like mom and dad and have a full house,” Gloria proudly stated.
“We became foster parents because of my heart condition and Emily’s sensitivity to blood and hospitals,” explained Justin. “We both had trauma in our childhood and want to give the children we have a fighting chance and to also be a positive influence in their lives.”
Justin and Emily have fostered a total of five children, two of whom were infants they have since adopted.
“We enjoy being positive caregivers to the children coming into our home,” said Justin. “We enjoy watching the kids grow and learn new things. Watching or hearing of them doing the things they’ve learned makes us so happy.
“Adelphoi has done a great job with the kids that we have had,” Justin praised. “The caseworkers and the workers who do their life books really do love seeing the kids. They love playing with them and seeing what they have learned since the last time they saw them.
“Children have different needs and wants, he noted. “Each child that comes into your home has damaged goods that they’re carrying. Not all need fixed. They just need love and nurturing.”
“I am so proud of the man he has become,” exclaimed Gloria. “It just melted my heart when he said he wanted to foster and adopt. He is very smart about a lot of things. He knew he didn’t want to pass his terrible heart condition on to kids.”
Even though they are grandparents now, Gloria and Terry have not closed their door to children in need. The couple continues to foster and has adopted two pairs of young siblings since December.
“It has been quite a ride,” said Gloria. “It’s challenging when you get kids who have had experiences you can’t even imagine. There are young people who have had such challenges, my heart goes out to them.
“If you have enough room in your house and heart, you should give it a shot,” she encouraged. “You don’t get rich being a parent, but you are rewarded in so many other ways.”