A mom to many: client Jodi Morris

Jodi’s daughter’s wedding. In attendance: Jodi’s foster daughter and two foster sons from Myanmar with their families, foreign exchange student from Germany, and two foster daughters and their families. All six of the children call Jodi “grandma.”

Mother’s Day is this month, so we were excited to speak to a remarkable mom, client Jodi Morris. In addition to having two children of her own, Jodi fostered 22 kids from ages 3 to 21 (maximum age for refugees) over the span of 17 years. Before you can praise her laudable generosity and hard work, she’s quick to point out that she’s the lucky one.

Jodi says fostering children has made her and her husband better parents, provided her children with an invaluable education on different perspectives and cultures, and expanded her family to include all the children they fostered. And their children. Jodi has seven foster grandchildren.

“I love my children’s view of family, and my husband and I got a lot of training. People worry about exposing their children to the issues of foster care, but ours have benefited from them. The big picture has taught them a lot. They’ve learned a lot of lessons without having to experience the consequences themselves,” says Jodi. She says everyone loved having extra people in the house, learning to work with and help each other.

Nine of Jodi’s foster children came to Jodi’s daughter’s wedding. Two were bridesmaids, and Jodi’s foster granddaughter was the flower girl. “To me, it’s never short-term. They’re still a part of our family,” Jodi says. She says social media helps her keep in touch with all of them.

Jodi got to know about foster parenting while working at Utah Youth Village. She says the shortage of foster parents is unfortunate, and thinks most are afraid of the children’s issues they will confront. While Jodi agrees “the kids are dealing with a lot,” she emphasizes that benefits far outweigh the hurdles. She says her children were sad when there weren’t extra kids in the house, and their extended family is family for life.>If you’re thinking about fostering children, Jodi says to adjust your expectations. “You never know the difference you’ll make. You may not know the impact you’re making or what’s working at the time. I’ve thought they weren’t listening and discovered later that they were.” She says “success” may not look like you imagined—things may not go your way—but you could be making a profound difference in these children’s lives. She says, “They’ll be in a better place” and, chances are, so will you.

To find out more, visit Utah Youth Village or contact Mark Baker at (801)680-1049. Jodi also recommends the movie Instant Family, which she says gives a realistic portrayal of foster parenting.