13 Children

Mary Ann and Greg Welter had been parenting for more than 25 years—to three biological sons, two adopted daughters, and four foster daughters. Recently, after prayer and discussion with their church, the Welters—with a still-valid foster home license—took in four children under the age of 10. The Welters have raised their children primarily with one income, from Greg’s work as an engineer. Mary Ann has devoted much of her time to their children at home, while also working off and on in schools. The Welters spoke with Sojourners editorial assistant Celeste Kennel-Shank about the grace, time, and support needed for parenting.

Sojourners: With most of your children already grown, and just a 15-year-old at home, what motivated you to keep parenting young children?

Mary Ann Welter: We have always raised our children in the context of community. These kids were part of our community, and they had a terrible tragedy in their lives. There was a lot of interest in how to help them.

Greg Welter: It wasn’t so much choosing, going out and looking to do this; it was being open to the accident, open to the moment that we seemed to be called for.

Mary Ann: And that really was the same in terms of our getting involved in foster care in the first place—being open to the moment.

Sojourners: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned that help you continue to parent?

Mary Ann: Knowing that, even with our original family of five, a parent cannot control everything. A parent cannot control the outcome. Much of it is just being there, walking the walk with children and then they have to walk it themselves. Grace teaches being open to the moment—whether that moment is a high point, or an ordinary moment, or a moment of struggle.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2006
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