Written by Jenny Riddle With Tiernan Courtney
When Tiernan Courtney was ten years old, her parents became aware of the need for more foster families in their area. Both sensing the Lord’s leading, they began gathering information, including exploring their two daughters’ feelings about being a foster family. “We both said we would love to have that opportunity to open our heart and home to children in need,” Tiernan recalls.
Her family began the process to be licensed, and one year later, they received their first placement. That day began a life-changing experience for Tiernan. Now, 17 years old, she would tell you that her life isn’t the same: “Since then, my family has had 12 sweet girls in our home all at different times . . . I knew that it was going to be something special; however, I didn’t truly understand how being a foster sister would change my view on life and other children/families. Every child who has come and will come through our home has a special place in my heart. I tell people that I’ve been a sister to 12 girls. Each of them has her different story, but each of them will always be part of my story. “
Over the last six years, Tiernan’s experiences with her foster sisters expanded her worldview outside of the safe home in which she had lived. She bonded with her foster sisters as she helped care for them, such as when a new placement had to receive medical care as a toddler. Although this situation was one in which no child should have to experience or witness, these challenging circumstances have softened Tiernan’s heart to the needs of others. She has incredible empathy for others and a desire to serve them because she has seen the needs of others in a first-hand way. She explains, “Foster care has opened my eyes in many ways. It has taught me that I always need to keep my heart open to other people’s situations.
Tiernan learned to listen to those who come from different backgrounds. She is not under the illusion that she is a rescuer or the only one who has something to offer. She bonded with her foster sisters as she listened to them share their hearts. One teenage sister helped her understand the love between a parent and child, even when situations were complicated.
Although she has seen some of the complex parts of the world, Tiernan has seen the redemptive role that foster care has played in the lives of her foster sisters. Instead of a lifetime of hardship, they now have a legacy of hope. One of her foster sisters “came into foster care confused and wishing things were different. Upon going back home, she graduated high school, moved out, has been in a loving relationship for over two years, and has a job that she loves. Her story went from living in disparity and being unsure of when she was going home to having hope and completely changing her life. “Seeing the way foster care has impacted the lives of the sisters who have come into their home and how it has changed her own heart, Tiernan wants to continue with the ministry of foster care in her own life. She shares, “I want to continue the legacy of foster care when I grow up and have my own family. I want to open up my home to be a safe place for not only my children but also for other children who don’t have a safe place. I want to pour into the lives of others and continue the legacy of foster care. “
If your family would like more information on leaving a legacy through investment in the lives of vulnerable children and families in the foster care system, please visit Foster Care – Lifeline Children’s Services.