Teri and Kevin Holmgreen have raised three children together, but they’ve changed the lives of at least 25 others as well. For eight years, the Holmgreens fostered kids, and they always made sure it was a family decision to take in each new child.
Kevin, now a regional manager for Independent Electric, worked with the husband of an Arizona’s Children Association employee. Teri and Kevin would often hear stories, with no personal details included, about foster children that no one would take in, such as a 17-year-old boy with only two months left until he turned 18, teens being placed into group homes or sibling sets that were left with no option but to split up.
“It was just a bunch of sad stories,” Teri said. “So finally I said, ‘You know what? I would have taken them.’ So after hearing so many stories, we were like, ‘Let’s do it.’ So we talked to the kids and they all agreed, so we decided to do it.”
Luckily, the Holmgreens never had any midnight house calls of foster kids needing placement immediately.
Most of the time, they had one to two days’ notice, or at least a few hours to prepare.
After receiving a call that detailed each foster kid’s specifications, Teri and Kevin would sit down with their kids.
“We would talk to the kids each time and tell them what was appropriate to tell them — because you don’t want to give them too much information to make them uncomfortable to be around the kid — and we would decide as a family because we wanted the kids to be as much a part of the decision as us,” Teri said. “It’s their home also. Every time, the kids were excited and said yes. Other than making that decision, we would have the beds already ready. Once the kids came, then we would let them pick out what they wanted for their space.”
The Holmgreens also never had dinner planned each time they took in a new foster child. The family let them pick whatever they wanted to eat.
Teri will never forget their first foster experience.
“It was scary,” she said. “We had a sibling set of two — a baby and a five or six-year-old boy. We were extremely nervous but super excited. We hadn’t had a baby because ours were in school, so we were really excited. They get the ages confused a lot. They said they were bringing us a three-month-old. When he came, I was like, ‘That is the biggest three-month-old I’ve ever seen. He was actually like six months old. When they came, it was really shocking because they were just filthy. It was really sad, but it was a really cool experience, taking them in.”
Fostering for that long exposed the Holmgreens to a wide variety of situations and experiences.
“It’s so hard because the children are amazing, and it’s definitely worth it,” Teri said. “It’s just really difficult. I’m sure there’s been all kinds of situations and things that the government has had to make all these crazy rules, but dealing with the system is the hardest part. There are hard children. You will get difficult children, and depending on how long you do it, you will have situations where you’re going to have to make a decision, for your family, to let them go. But there are children that you’re going to have where you’re going to make the biggest difference in their life.”
Teri and Kevin have had past foster children find them on Facebook, and through social media, they’ve been in contact with most of their foster children who passed through their home.
One of their very first foster children found Kevin on Facebook and reached out a few years ago.
“It’s just the most amazing thing,” Teri said. “You don’t realize what a difference you make in their life, and then they find you.”