November 6, 2023
The Zoeller Bunch
An Adoption Story.
Here’s the Story…
For Louis and Melissa Zoeller, life in their home is always in motion. They recently finalized the adoption of three siblings, Izabel, Oaklee and Carson, completing the Zoeller Bunch of seven children. The couple, married for more than 15 years, lives with their family in Mountville. In addition to the three children just adopted, oldest, biological children Coral and Dominic provide loving sibling guidance to Sophie and Tatum, who had previously joined the family through adoption. If that doesn’t sound like a busy enough household, the family animals include 11 chickens, five ducks, two dogs, two geckos and a cat. With years of experience providing foster care and growing their family through adoption, Louis and Melissa have wisdom to share about their experiences.
What are your reasons for fostering and adopting?
We started fostering because we felt a calling from God. When we first started dating, we both had a desire to adopt. We heard about COBYS from a friend, went to the informational meeting and the rest is history. After our first adoption we continued to keep our home open because we saw a need and we knew we were able to provide the love, support and time to continue fostering.
What are some aspects of providing foster care that have been most rewarding for you? What has been most challenging?
The most rewarding would be the increase of our family. The most challenging is learning to parent children with early childhood trauma. Also, not always agreeing with the decisions that are made for the children in care.
What impacts of the legal system have you seen on the children in your care?
At times the decisions that are made in a court room cause more short-term trauma on the children with the whole purpose of seeing if the family can step up to parent. The system that was designed to protect the safety and welfare of children is not always serving the actual child’s safety. It is difficult to walk the system knowing, at times, the judge, lawyers, caseworkers, bio parents and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) are not in agreement on the case plan.
What have you learned about children through the process of fostering?
We have learned that no two children, regardless of age or circumstances entering care, are alike. We must meet the individual need of each child and their trauma.
What have you learned about yourself, individually and as a couple, during your foster care journey?
We have learned we need to be on the same page as much as possible as a couple. Kids with early childhood trauma are very resilient and can be good at causing divides to get their perceived needs met. Louis, has learned that patience is a need while I, Melissa, have learned that our family and myself can survive a tidal wave of overwhelming things and come out strong on the other end. At the end of the day, we always made it through.I also lea rned to make my voice heard no matter what, and to create healthy boundaries, otherwise you will burn out fast.
What role did your faith play in your decision to foster children? Is there a particular Bible verse that sustains you?
As far as our faith, I have no idea how people foster without Christ. There have been more times than I can count where we needed to completely rely on God knowing best, because what we were seeing play out was not okay or right. We pray Numbers 6:24-26 over all our children each night. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” The verse goes on to say that if Moses says this prayer, God will put his name on the Israelites and bless them. That is all we want for all our kids, that God show himself and make his will known to each of them so they will have joy and peace in life.
“We have appreciated COBYS walking alongside our family for all these years. I have had COBYS caseworkers cry with me, laugh with me and be brutally honest with me (even when I did not want to hear it). We have had some amazing caseworkers, some of which are true friends. Although we have now closed our home, we will continue to pray that future families will step up and meet the need. We hope to remain a part of the COBYS family in one way or another.”
– Melissa Zoeller