The Ward Family’s Fostering Journey: A Testament to Love, Faith, and Selflessness

by | May 2024

BECOMING FOSTER parents was a natural fit for Irvin and Teesha Ward. Growing up in Christian homes, the Wards saw many examples of helping people. It was ingrained in them early on. When their first opportunity to foster their nephew arose, the answer was unquestionably “yes!” 

Since 2012, Irvin and Teesha Ward have fostered 47 children, adopted seven of them, and had three biological children. While caring for so many kids over a 13-year period may seem overwhelming, Teesha says their willingness came from their hearts. 

“We wanted to help other peoples’ children feel safe — feel that love — knowing that their children were being taken care of by good people.” 

Both were working full time when they started fostering. Irvin owned his own construction company, and Teesha’s work focused on mental health in the public school system. The Wards connected with Lynchburg’s HumanKind organization and became colleagues and good friends with Executive Director Jamie Creasy. 

“They’ve been so supportive — very open to our ideas,” Irvin says. 

Creasy holds the Wards in very high regard. 

“Irvin and Teesha really stand out because they said ‘yes’ to any child in need. It is very hard to find homes for teenagers, especially teenage boys, and they took on very difficult teenagers. They were never scared of a challenge and gave each youth a chance.” 

Saying “yes” to fostering several teen boys at once meant that the Wards needed more living space in their home. Irvin put his construction skills to work and created five additional bedrooms in the basement. He also used those same skills to help some of the boys begin to learn a trade. 

The Wards quickly learned that fostering required teamwork. Teesha adds that having a schedule and a routine for each child was the key. 

“It was good for them. Each had his or her own responsibilities,” she explained. 

Irvin adds that children in the foster system need structure to succeed and be able to either move back home or move out on their own when they age out of foster care. Teesha points out that she and Irvin have had very good relationships with most of their foster kids’ parents, even to this day.

However, fostering for more than a decade definitely can take its toll. 

“It’s an emotional attachment and then a detachment,” Irvin said of when a child comes to a home and then leaves to go back to their family. 

A clear concept is at the top of Irvin’s list for keeping his own family strong while fostering other kids. 

“Keep your marriage healthy! Keep the communication open. You both have to be fully committed to want to do this.” 

Teesha agreed. 

“You can do it if you open up your heart, open up your home, and make sure you’re caring for yourself well, too.”

In 2022, the Wards received one of the most difficult phone calls of their lives. They had already told HumanKind they needed to step away from fostering teenagers and focus more on younger children. HumanKind had four boys — siblings who were ages 1, 2, 3, and 4 — who needed immediate placement. All four were severely malnourished. None of them spoke. Three were diagnosed with autism. One of the older boys could not walk. Irvin sums up their response to the call in simple words.

“We had to say yes.” 

Now, two years later, all four boys are thriving and getting the love, attention, and care they need. The Wards’ 5-year-old daughter loves to play with the boys and is helping to teach them things like numbers, colors, and the alphabet. The Wards take the boys to many occupational and medical appointments each week but say they are improving. 

Not long after the initial call, Irvin and Teesha began the adoption process for the boys. Just last year, they retired fully from foster care. Teesha retired from her work in schools. Irvin, however, admits he is not quite “fully retired” from construction work.

Through their years of loving and caring for so many kids, Irvin says fostering was a ministry, too. 

“God gave us the strength to endure the challenging moments. He definitely had our backs,” Irvin affirmed.

Teesha wholeheartedly agreed. 

“God looked after us all these years.”

Last year, HumanKind held a retirement party for the Wards. 

Creasy said, “They will always be a part of our family, and we are so proud they chose us to walk through this journey with them.” GN 

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