Julie and Brian Paszczykowski have always had a full house. They have four biological (bio) children of their own, and just as they were about to become empty-nesters, they made the decision to foster.
Julie reminisces, “I remember telling my husband when our children were young that I wanted to be a foster mama to those who didn’t have a mama. Our house was full already with four of our own, and he looked at me like I was crazy. God just put that in my heart.”
“When our bio children were all grown and married except for one…the opportunity [arrived] to take in three siblings who were our kin, and I never looked back,” she said.
Finding a forever home
Julie and her husband thought they would foster the three siblings for about a year “while their bio parents got cleaned up, and reunification was always the plan, [but] in my heart of hearts, I knew the day they came to us that it would be forever.”
Julie recalls that first day vividly: “They came to us with the clothes they were wearing–nothing else. They had been ‘homeless’ for two years prior, living with this person or that, and rarely all together.”
“We were told that it was rare for three siblings to stay together, and since they were older it was even more difficult to find placement. There really wasn’t much discussion on whether or not we would ‘keep them’ forever. We just knew it would be.”
The four biological Paszczykowski children jokingly call themselves the “OG’s” or “original gangsters,” and they were unequivocally supportive of their parents’ decision. Julie explains, “They have embraced the three ‘littles’ as their own siblings. They grew up with them as their second cousins, but now the kids refer to each other as brothers and sisters.”
Julie’s urge to foster began when their biological children were young and continued throughout her life. Just a year before the Paszczykowskis opened up their home, she and her friends started a bucket list, and “the very first thing on my list was to foster children. It was one item I was able to check off for the first time.”
The ups and downs
While the Paszczykowskis would not change a thing about their situation, Julie admits that foster care and adoption have their hurdles. She had trouble articulating the struggles, but she explains that the new movie Instant Family is “spot on.” She confesses, “I laughed, then cried, then laughed again. It was so on point with all the ups and downs.”
Julie chuckles that fostering before adopting isn’t a “benefit” because “it’s not like you could ‘return’ the kids if it wasn’t what you thought. Although, trust me, it is not always easy and that thought might go through your head! Even with your own bio kids!”
She adds, “But seriously, fostering is like slowly falling in love with your kids…getting to know them, letting them adjust, getting used to the idea of a new family.”
Julie advises to gather as much information about fostering before you take the leap. “Talk to others who have [fostered]. Gather information. Attend classes. Ask to join a support group beforehand to be armed with information going in. And, most importantly, have an open mind and an open heart.”
Favorite activity to do with family?
I love having meals together and playing games after dinner, as well as going to church and volunteering in the community.
Best holiday memory from when you were a kid?
I remember always going to Children’s Wonderland and seeing all the Christmas scenes and taking photos in front of them!
What do you do when you have a few moments to yourself?
A hot bubble bath! My other fave thing to do is hang out at a bookstore with a coffee in hand.
Your life in 5 words or less: Love, laughter, chaos, Jesus, family.
Favorite Toledo hangout?
I LOVE downtown!
Describe Toledo in a sentence?
Toledo is quickly (slowly?) becoming what it used to be, and I love it!