Episode 18: The Foster Journey, Part 5: Parenting Kids from Hard Places

April 28, 2020

Listen as Joanna shares the heartbreaking details of losing her mother and the events that led her to foster care at the age of three. Over the years Joanna lived in group homes, with various foster families, and sometimes her biological family. Through each of the more than six placements she had, Joanna was impacted by each of these placements and unfortunately had a few traumatic experiences that profoundly affected her.

Joanna held onto hope that one day she would be able to be reunited with her father and live with him. She shares with us the journey of searching for her father and how that process changed things for her. Her story is a powerful testament to her determination to overcome trauma and hardship. 

Then listen with us as Kayla shares some practical tips for parenting children from hard places. She acknowledges the trauma that children carry with them into homes and offers advice and stories to guide caregivers. Kayla brings more than 10 years of fostering and parenting experience to the conversation. Her words offer encouragement to those who are parenting children touched by foster care.

To Learn More:

Key Quote / Takeaway:

"I just didn't really have the support that I think I would have definitely benefited from at that time as a kid. So it was more of just kind of trying to learn how to cope and survive with what I had gone through." - Joanna Torres

Meet Our Guests

Joanna Torres

Joanna is passionate about kids being placed with families who will provide a safe and loving environment and wants to see new families be recruited, empowered, and equipped to provide for children in foster care. She hopes to help families understand the challenges that children in foster care face.

Joanna now uses her voice and her story to speak to the situations that children in foster care may be facing, but to encourage others to provide space for children to continue healing and growing. She is a founding Board Member of “Orphans and You Matter”, a nonprofit that looks to support and to provide for children who have been orphaned globally. She also works for a Olive Crest as a Program Supervisor for a Transitional Housing Program for foster teens. She works with teenagers who are in high school.

Joanna is a California native who lives in Long Beach with her husband, step-daughter, and two cats. She loves to be creative and spends her time painting, drawing, do-it-yourself projects, or hair and make-up for a wedding. Joanna hopes to write a memoir about her story and eventually publish her story.

Kayla North

Kayla and her husband, Ryan, have 6 children, 4 adopted from foster care. They spent 10 years as foster parents and have learned many of the things they share with families and churches in the trenches. They are co-founders of One Big Happy Home and are considered experts on childhood trauma. Together they have developed training materials and programs for churches, schools, and parents educating them on trauma and its impacts including their online training for churches; Becoming Trauma-Informed: Helping Kids Feel Safe at Church. Kayla is a Trauma-Competent Caregiver and the Executive Directory of Tapestry, a non-profit that supports and equips local churches and families with the tools and resources needed to help the families they serve. The Norths have trained and mentored hundreds of ministry leaders and trainers in the United States and Canada. They are both TBRI Practitioners and speak at churches, conferences, and retreats nationwide. You can hear them on The Empowered Parent Podcast and read their writing on Empowered to Connect, and at One Big Happy Home. Ryan and Kayla live in Dallas, TX with their 6 children and 2 dogs, Snowcone and Elvis.