It’s their job: Couple felt called to foster parenting

Brian and Jennifer Zangara have worked as house parents at the New Mexico Christian Children’s Home for 4 1/2 years, including time training. They moved to the area from Michigan.
The two are raising their four children and another five in the custody of the children’s home. The children range in age from 2 to 14.
What does your job entail? (Jennifer) It’s kind of like foster parenting. It’s probably much like with your own kids. I guess the ultimate goal is to prepare them for life outside the home, especially to take God with them wherever they go.
What is a typical day for you? (Brian) A typical day changes by season. (Jennifer) (In the summer) we usually wake up 4-H kids at 6:30 for breakfast, and they get picked up for the barn at 7. They’re expected to have their rooms picked up and beds made before they come out to breakfast. Then when they come home, they usually shower and go play outside for a while. We have lunch at noon, and then they have quiet time. It’s two hours of rest time. Then they play some more before supper. It all depends on the day whether we have them doing chores or playing. Then after supper, a different set of 4-H kids goes out to the barn to work their animals. Then the rest of the kids, we try to exercise with them every night after supper. (Brian) And in between all that, we would take kids to their doctor appointments, counseling appointments, dentist appointments. Bedtime routine is group prayer with each individual praying, cleaning up their rooms last minute before they go down for bed and then individually tucking each kid in.
Why did you choose this job? (Jennifer) We actually moved here from Michigan, and we really just felt called by God to be foster parents. So we prayed about that for a long time and really felt lead to New Mexico.
What training did you need for this job? (Jennifer) We are constantly getting trained even still. We have meetings every Monday that incorporate training. At this children’s home, there’s a house-parent-in-training program. We were in training for two years. Sometimes they have to move house parents in right away, but generally they’re in training for a little while. We have a training manual we go over as a staff constantly.
What do you most enjoy about this job? (Jennifer) Feeling like we’re making a difference in kids’ lives. Knowing when they graduate from here, they’re going to be all right. (Brian) Watching a child come to know Christ is one of the greatest benefits of this job. Teaching them good work ethics, too.

— Compiled by PNT Senior Writer Argen Duncan