- Associated Press - Saturday, May 8, 2021

CHESNEE, S.C. (AP) - Mother’s Day is for homemade cards, brunches, flowers and candy.

This year, it will be even sweeter for one Upstate family thanks to them saying “yes” to a question and a call they never expected.

Andrea Forringer remembers her husband, Todd, coming home from a work trip in 2015 and suggesting they should consider becoming foster parents. Andrea admits she was initially apprehensive about the thought of fostering children.

“Do you know what I do for a living?” she joked with her husband. Andrea is a 6th grade teacher at Spartanburg District 5′s Berry Shoals Intermediate School. Both of their sons, Ryan and Adam, were in college, and the couple was on the brink of becoming empty nesters.

But by chance, she had a student in her class that year who was a foster child. He was in 6th grade, and had been in 21 foster homes.

“I remember thinking, how can this happen?” Andrea said.

South Carolina has over 4,000 children in foster care, and 34% of those children have been in care more than 24 months. Spartanburg currently has 183 children placed in foster care with 55 of those in care more than 24 months.

The Forringers attended a Miracle Hill information session for prospective foster parents to learn more about the need for foster families as well as the obligations. Andrea said this opened her eyes to the reality of what children in foster care are facing.

Miracle Hill Ministries is South Carolina’s largest provider of homeless services, and through their Foster Care Program and Miracle Hill Children’s Home, provide services to children and foster parents.

“We went to a Miracle Hill information session at Grace Church, and I was done,” Andrea said. “I met Brenda Parks (Foster Care Director) and that was it. Her passion, the stories, the need, the statistics. It was powerful.”

The couple opened their home to foster children in January 2016 and have since welcomed six children into their home. Some stayed a few months, some much longer.


When a child is removed from their home due to abuse or neglect, they need a stable and loving foster family to care for them. Foster homes are designed to be temporary. But the love and care a child receives while in foster care can last a lifetime.

Some people are apprehensive about becoming foster parents because they are worried about becoming too attached to the child in their care. The initial plan in a foster environment is always reunification with birth parents. That road is not always an easy one.


When a child comes into foster care in Spartanburg County and there are no available foster homes, they often go to the Miracle Hill Children’s Home or Hope Center for Children.

Todd volunteers his time at Hope Center for Children for the boys living at the home.

And while volunteering through the mentorship program at Hope Center for Children, he met Jackson.

Jackson was 16-years-old and life had dealt him some difficult blows. His birth mother and grandmother had passed away. His birth father is in prison. After the passing of his grandmother, Jackson went into the system at 4-years-old. He was in and out of foster homes the first few years, but was adopted by a family at 10 years.

But it wasn’t a good fit. He ran away from the home and ended up living at Hope Center for Children when he was 16 after a court case with his guardian and caseworker. Jackson remembers leaving court that day, and his caseworker took him to P.S. I Love You Ministries in Spartanburg.

“I remember him coming in that day with his caseworker,” said Kay Kirby, P.S. I Love You Executive Director. “He looked so discouraged and just hopeless.”

P.S. I Love You Ministries is a faith based not-for-profit ministry that provides resources for foster children and the families caring for them. Jackson’s caseworker took him there to visit the clothes closet.

“I had nothing, and I didn’t know where I was going,” Jackson said. “I was wearing gel slides and someone else’s clothes. They had lost the one outfit I did have so, I had to wear someone else’s (clothes) because I had to have something to go to court in.”

But things turned around for Jackson at Hope Center for Children, especially after meeting Todd. Jackson said he didn’t have any expectation of getting adopted at 16 because “who adopts a 16 year old kid?” But he knew he had a special connection with Todd and Andrea.

“Jackson was just part of the family from day one,” Todd said.

Andrea calls it divine intervention.

“Fostering, I had to lean on the Lord more because I’m kind of an ‘I can take care of it’ person,” Andrea said. “And you can’t control anything when fostering. I know the Lord was teaching me when fostering that I am not in control of anything. He said ‘watch me, I’m going to bring Jackson here.’”

It wasn’t an easy road. It was a journey filled with court dates, meetings with DSS, caseworkers and attorneys. It was important to everyone in the Forringer family Jackson be adopted before turning 18.


It’s a term familiar with most teens in foster care. The term “aging out” refers to children within a state’s foster care system who are still in the system when they reach the age when they have graduated high school. The state does provide resources for foster children aging out of the system, but 20% of kids who age out become instantly homeless.

On December 20, 2019, Jackson officially became a foster child of the Forringers.

“We knew we wanted to pursue adoption even before he came to live with us,” Todd said. “And it was important we adopt him, that he have our last name, his last name, before turning 18.”

The Forringers celebrated Jackson’s adoption day one month before his 18th birthday.

“I wanted his high school diploma to have his name on it,” Andrea said. “I wanted him to graduate with his name.”

Jackson is a senior at Chesnee High School and plans to work with his brother Adam over the summer. He’s an avid soccer player, and works part-time at Denny’s after school.

“I used to dream of having the life I have now,” Jackson said. “Everything I do now I used to think about doing, but now I can do it.”

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