SHERWOOD, Ore. (KOIN) — Originally, Alison and Mike McKay wanted to do short-term foster parenting, a transition point for foster kids before they found a more long-term home. They always had an interest in it, but with 8 kids — including an adopted son from Ukraine who has Down syndrome and autism — they thought their capacity to help was limited.
“Our goal was to be available for short term stints — 2,3,4 days — while these children were in transition and needed a quick place to stay,” Mike said.
“We want to be a little part of their picture,” Alison said. “Honor them and love them … send them to their next foster placement knowing they’re loved.”
Then, the McKays got their first foster-daughter, and any short-term plan they had vanished.
“It just so happens that our first foster daughter, we initially thought she was going to be with us for a few months, and now it’s been 2 and a half years,” Mike said.
That foster daughter, who is both blind and deaf, has been a blessing to the McKay family.
“Being able to have children in our house with special needs is a really kind of unique and special thing for us to participate in,” Mike said.
“Just wanted to be a part of something bigger than ourselves,” Alison said. “We just saw this as an opportunity to bring children into our home that are vulnerable and we can love on.”
Alison and Mike McKay have been married for 18 years now, but they say they’ve always had a heart for special needs children. Through their college friends, they started getting acquainted with the foster care system. Then they heard about Embrace Oregon, an organization that acts as a liaison between families and DHS.
The couple says their Christian faith is what gives them hope and a desire to pursue things of eternal value. That’s why they believe in fostering, especially children with disabilities. Their big household, means some sacrifices though.
“We don’t have time for the kids to be involved in lots of extracurriculars and they don’t do competitive sports. We give up things that a lot of society puts high value in. Our family is just going to be different.”
They even plan on moving soon for their foster daughter. They said their current house isn’t disabled-friendly. They want a home where their 2-year-old foster daughter can have the freedom to move around in her wheelchair.
The McKay’s are doing their part for the foster-care community, but wants to urge the public that more help is needed. KOIN 6 News learned Oregon has a shortage of foster parents. There are about 7,600 foster children in the state but only about 3,800 certified homes.
The McKays are sharing their story in the hopes they can inspire people thinking of becoming foster parents. They’ve seen the joy that comes from opening their doors to a child in need, and it’s certainly changed their life in ways they never could’ve foreseen.
“She’s a part of our heart,” Alison said. “She’s a part of our story. She’s a part of our family.” If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, Embrace Oregon, makes learning about the process easier.
Click here to check out their website.