Children in foster care often carry the heavy burdens of trauma, abuse, neglect, and the anxiety related to the uncertainty of their futures. Finding loving parents to help them carry that weight is core to DePaul’s mission.
Greg and Gloria Killen are those loving parents. Greg and Gloria are in their late 60s, so they aren’t who you might imagine as typical foster parents. But that hasn’t stopped them from changing lives.
Gloria had always wanted to foster, but with two biological kids at home, the timing was never right. After their biological kids were grown, Greg and Gloria decided it was time. The Killens became approved foster parents through DePaul’s Cedar Bluff office in 2017. The same day they were approved, they got a call about a 7-year-old girl who needed a home.
Nicole came to them carrying plenty of burdens. She was guarded, distant, and resistant to love. As the Killens settled into caring for Nicole, they began welcoming her 8-year-old sister, Claire, for weekend visits. At the time, Claire was living with her and Nicole’s biological mom. During those weekend visits, Gloria started noticing that Claire was being neglected at home.
“It broke my heart to send her back,” said Gloria.
The heartbreak Gloria felt led her to fight hard for Claire. She knew Claire could have a better life, with less burdens. At the end of 2017, Claire officially became part of the Killen home. The transition was tough. Nicole was still trying to learn how to love and be loved, while her sister Claire was adjusting to a new way of life.
“Both girls, in their short little lives, have seen more than you can imagine. Their innocence and childhood were taken away from them,” said Gloria.
Greg and Gloria refused to give up on the girls. They knew they needed love and a family. In May 2019, the girls were adopted.
“They are blossoming and growing into such beautiful young ladies,” said Gloria.
Today, the Killen family tree is quite unique. Greg and Gloria’s biological kids are grown. Their grandkids are closer in age to Nicole and Claire. And the Killens are currently fostering two young boys, ages 4 and 5.
“They keep us young. We can’t imagine our lives without them,” said Gloria.