Juan and Dessa: How Fostering a Teen Changed Our Lives - Good Shepherd


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February 16, 2021

Juan and Dessa know what it’s like to be looked at by a child with hope in their eyes.

They had gone through the experience of fostering children, once even welcoming five siblings into their home and caring for them until they all reached permanency. It was quite a jump going from a household of two to seven people!

But it was a very special teen who would change their world forever.

The couple began their foster journey in 2016 without specific parameters on age – they simply wanted to give love to children who needed it. They were licensed for ages 0-18 and agreed to be guided by their principal to “always do what’s in the child’s best interests.”

Both Juan and Dessa are fluent in Spanish and were excited when they received the placement of a 16 year old female who also spoke the language. Of course she came with her own, unique challenges, as every human does. But the couple focused on meeting her where she was in life, respecting her needs, and actively listening to what she had to say.

Little by little, her personal barriers began to drop. The trio became close. They shared experiences and laughter, bonded when they overcame rough patches together, learned about trust and what made them a good fit.

That’s when she came to them and asked if they would consider adopting her.

The couple had already had conversations about asking her the same question. It was a perfect moment of three hearts melding into one family.

Good Shepherd is an agency that works with children at all stages of their lives and families who have love to share. Juan and Dessa say that yes, there may be challenges and storms to weather together. But the rewards of bringing an older child into their lives have been extraordinary. They wouldn’t have it any other way.