Brett and Debra Martin began their journey as foster parents with an open home, open hearts, and open minds. They had hoped to adopt through foster care one day, but never imagined that would become reality so quickly.
“We just wanted to provide a safe, loving home for anyone who came through for as long as they needed it,” said Brett.
The Martins were approved as foster parents through DePaul in June of 2018. By the end of that summer, they had welcomed two boys into their home—Malachi who was 13, and his brother Elijah, who was 7. Debra and Brett initially believed their stay would be short, but it wasn’t. Very quickly, the Martins realized Malachi and Elijah needed a safe, permanent home and a loving, forever family.
The realization was, understandably, overwhelming. Debra and Brett were first-time parents in their twenties, and the boys had built walls to protect themselves and carried scars from their past. But the Martins could see the boys needed them, and they could not bear to let them go.
“To go out into the world is scary, even when you have mom and dad behind you. To try and do that alone … it broke my heart thinking about them having to do that,” said Debra.
Over the last couple years, the family has grown closer and their bond has grown stronger.
“Seeing and realizing the impact that you have on their lives, it’s quite humbling and amazing to me,” said Brett.
But the Martins are very clear—this growth did not happen overnight. It took work, commitment, and a willingness to acknowledge the challenges and meet them head on. It took being open to the process and the journey, being present for the easy moments and the difficult ones.
“It’s been a lot of learning, a lot of family meetings, just getting to know each other better,” said Debra.
Malachi and Elijah are doing well in school. They are happy and healthy. They can express their emotions more clearly. And they recently decided to change their last name to “Martin.”
The Martins recently became a family of five— they have welcomed a 16-year-old young man, Jacob, whose goal is adoption, too. Because Debra and Brett opened their home, hearts, and minds, three boys have the chance to grow up feeling safe and loved.