By Elayza Gonzalez | Photo by Fredshots Photography
Kristy Sutton always knew she wanted to adopt. After the birth of her second child with husband Zach, Kristy experienced a year of postpartum thyroid issues, which led to the conversation of how her and her husband were going to have more children.
“I thought I was done with childbearing, but then we traveled to Haiti for some mission work in December 2009,” she said. “There, God softened Zach’s heart to the idea of adoption.”
They started pursuing the foster care route knowing they wanted to adopt domestically, and in August 2012 they were licensed to foster and adopt children. She said once they had their first placement, they knew they would be walking the foster care journey for a long time.
“There’s basically more of everything: More chaos, more crying, more hugs, more hits, more volume, more tears, more good, more dirty dishes and loads of laundry, and a ton more beautiful moments to share with even more people,” said Sutton.
Over the years, the Sutton family has fostered more than 30 children. In December, they said goodbye to their 33rd foster child and adopted their fifth child, Gideon (2).
Kristy said her biological children, Evie, 11, Beckett, 9, Elin, 7, and Griffin, 4, have been involved in the family’s fostering journey almost all their lives. In 2012, Evie was just starting kindergarten and four days before their first foster child arrived, Kristy unexpectedly found out she was pregnant with baby No. 4.
“This is just our normal,” said Sutton. “Our kids expect us to say yes when a call comes with a new child that needs a safe place to land, and I love that! I love that our kids don’t know life any other way.”
The Sutton family is licensed to foster two children at a time, and there is a limit of five to six children in a home at a time, including your biological children. Kristy said they have been overcapacity a few times with up to eight children sleeping under their roof some nights.
Kristy’s advice for families looking to start fostering is count the costs and prepare to be broken. She said there are so many shattered lives in just Alachua County alone, and the Sutton family keeps saying “yes” to fostering as a way to connect with parents and families who need support by loving their kids.
“Your life will likely be unrecognizable after foster care,” she said. “You can’t unsee the brokenness, but there’s so much joy in the journey — in this hard calling.”
The Suttons, along with some friends, established Foster Florida, an organization that helps equip those on the frontlines of foster care with things like childcare, supplies, prayer and meals.
“No one can do this alone,” she said.
Visit www.fosterflorida.org to learn more about Kristy’s organization and to find support in your community.