John and Valerie Butler have been foster parents with Inspiritus since 2016. John Butler is the pastor at Covenant Life Church in Bremen, GA. Three families in his church are also foster families with Inspiritus along with many adoptive families, and relatives caring for their children.
When the Bulters’ daughter graduated high school, they felt that God was calling them to open their home to children in need and started exploring the idea of becoming foster parents. They contact Inspiritus, then LSG, and began to work diligently through the approval process to ready their hearts and their home for foster children. Both of them knew the time and energy it would take to care for foster children, but neither of them fully understood the emotional impact children would have on both of them.
In the summer of 2016 the family accepted their first placement of two brothers. Early on in their placement, the family quickly realized that both boys had more behavioral and mental health issues than anyone initially knew about. The family went to work finding the best therapist, psychiatrist, and specialist in their area to serve these children. They worked together to take the children to multiple appointments per week along with sports and church activities. Through this all, they handled everything with amazing grace and love for these children.
Within a few months it become apparent that these children would not be able to return home with their biological family. The Butler’s did not feel called to adopt these children. However, they had many late conversations with them about adoption and how the right family would come along that was meant for just them. Just as the Butler’s said, an adoptive family was found late in 2017 and the Butler’s worked with the adoptive family to make it a smooth transition. The boys still call the Butler family a few times per year and have come to stay for a long weekend last summer.
Last summer, the Butler family welcomed a sibling group of four in their home last summer with ages ranging from 5 to 16 years of age. Although the stress was increased with additional children, the Butler’s managed day in and day out to provide nurturing and individualized care to each child in their home. Their schedule is often hectic with specialized therapies, medical appointments, sports, and after school activities, but the Butlers continue to provide the love and care the children need.
Late last year one of the children had to be moved from their home because he was in need of more intensive services than their community could provide. Shortly, the unthinkable happened. The boy took his own life. The Butlers were devastated. However, they had to manage their grief so they could support the three siblings in their home though their brother’s death. With the support of their church, community, and faith in God they managed to all come together to grief and move forward. Their strength through this tragedy was incredible.
The Butlers have risen to every challenge that foster care has thrown at them since day one. When they began this process they had no idea what obstacles they would face and the trials they would encounter. However, they continue this journey with faithful hearts and a big smile. Their church has a thriving foster care ministry and they are always looking for ways to help. Many foster parents in their church were involved in the local Foster Parent Association meetings. So when the association approached them about using their church as a meeting spot for local meetings, they enthusiastically said yes!
We often sit back in awe of this family and their commitment to the children that they serve. We are so grateful to be partners with them through this journey.