Joshua and Tara Troester, who decided prior to marriage that they would not have biological children, recently grew from a family of three to a family of five when they adopted two children through COMPACT Family Services.
Tara’s passion for foster care and adoption developed at a young age as she saw firsthand how children can connect with family beyond biological bonds. One of her good friends had siblings who came through the foster care system.
Her desire to parent children she had not birthed grew during her experiences on short-term missions trips. Although she met many children who needed homes overseas, she never lost sight of the need for foster and adoptive parents in her own community.
Josh, 37, founding pastor of Live Church in Republic, Missouri, agreed with Tara’s calling, and the couple began to grow their family five years after they married. Grayson, 6, was only 5 months old when he came to live with them. The couple adopted him about a year later.
The Troesters provided foster care for a handful of other children before letting their foster license lapse in 2018, thinking Grayson would remain an only child.
However, their relationship with one of their church members, Ashley Grant, Missouri director of COMPACT Family Services, led them to reopen their license in January 2020.
“We felt comfortable to begin the process again with Ashley because we knew she would help us find the best fit,” Josh says. “She sees us as people, not just a home for children.”
Last June, Grant contacted the Troesters about Gracie and Stephen.
The preteen siblings had bounced around different foster families for four years without finding a permanent home. Grant saw the kids in a posting from another foster care network and felt the Troesters could provide the home these children needed.
“The Troesters have a heart for kids from hard places,” Grant says. “They are out to redeem souls of broken kids and families, and they have a realistic understanding of what that takes. That’s what makes a successful foster or adoptive family.”
The Troesters had not previously considered fostering older children and felt a bit hesitant to take on the unfamiliar challenge of parenting a 12- and 11-year-old. However, Tara taught middle and high school for eight years, so she had a lot of experience interacting with adolescents.
“I felt safe and comfortable to try parenting older kids because I trusted Ashley,” says Tara, 32.
Foster agencies often have difficulty finding families for preteens and sibling groups.
“Had the Troesters not stepped in, it is likely these siblings would have been separated,” Grant says.
Watching the experience of their youth pastor, Troy Ashley, who recently took in his biological siblings, impacted the Troesters’ decision to give parenting preteens through foster care a try.
“I watched God use him and his wife to give a fantastic home to these older kids who needed it as much as babies,” Josh says.
Gracie and Stephen’s adoptions became final on Jan. 29.
“Even though we will have a shorter time with them in our home, parenting doesn’t end when kids turn 18,” Josh says. “They aren’t aging out of the system. They always will have a mom and dad and a place to go for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Tara finds joy in the way all three kids love and support each other. She also recognizes the impact the experience has had on Live Church.
“Our church family now knows how to support foster families better,” Tara says. “Whether it’s a night out, someone watching kids for two hours so we can go out on a date night, an invitation for coffee to check on us, or a hand on the shoulder saying, ‘I’m praying for you,’ all go a long way.”
Tara’s heart to see children find families and the support her family received from Ashley led her to start a new career. Tara now works as a contractor for COMPACT.
“One of the most intense of spiritual battles is when you go to war for a widow or an orphan,” Josh says. “Adoption of the abandoned is the clearest view of what the Cross did for us.”