Fostering Families Part 2: The Gross Family

Gross family photoOver the next month, we will be doing a three part series on fostering. According to, on any given day, there are more than 400,000 children without permanent homes in the United States. Of those children, most of them will remain in the State’s care for over two years, some for much longer. Each of these families has a unique and impactful experience.

Anne Gross and her husband would be the first to tell you that their household is loud and crazy at times. With 5 adopted siblings, a rescue dog and 4 rescue cats, they say, “Our home is full of people, animals, and love!”

The Gross’s dated for three years before they married in Hawaii and actively discussed their passion for adoption early on in their courtship. As Anne explained, “I have always wanted to adopt. My husband is a cancer survivor and we had explored trying IVF, but adoption was always our first choice and never a back-up plan.”

Anne’s husband works in computers as an Operations Engineer while she works part time as an aid at their children’s school. They love to travel, are big foodies, and enjoy kayaking. Their adoption journey took a surprising turn 4 years ago when they went from wanting to adopt a baby to fostering a sibling set of five, 3 boys and two girls, that at the time ranged in ages 5-13. The children lived with the Gross’s for six months before they officially joined the family through adoption on March 13, 2012. The Gross’s are now advocates for adoption and keeping sibling sets together.

How did you first get started with fostering? 

My husband and I were approved and on a waiting list with a private adoption agency to adopt a baby. We even had nursery ready to welcome our new bundle of joy. Then we happened to sit in on a meeting about foster care. Here we were on a waiting list for a baby when thousands of older children are on a waiting list for a forever home. We immediately removed our name from a waiting list for a baby, donated our nursery full of baby stuff, and signed up for foster classes. This felt right. Our hearts felt peace and we knew we were on the right path for our own personal adoption journey. Two weeks before our foster care classes were over, our licensing worker called and told us about a sibling group of five that had a close knit bond. They longed to be adopted together. Our hearts exploded with love for them the moment we saw their photos. We had found our children.

What qualities do you and your family possess that make you good foster parents? 

I would say unconditional love, structure, as well as patience and understanding. It is a process for everyone to find that new normal. It takes time. We also had to set realistic expectations.

What did you/do you find most challenging? 

Our kids are really resilient and amazing! I think as parents we had a harder time adjusting. We definitely had moments where we felt spread thin at times; they were so eager to feel love and meeting 5 kids’ emotional needs can be a challenge! The cycle of grief is real. Triggers happen.

What have you found most rewarding? 

Raising 5 kids has made our dreams come true! We may have missed some of the kids “firsts” but we have experienced other “firsts” like getting their driver’s license, their first kisses, being able to give them experiences at nice restaurants, first plane ride, first trip to Disneyland, first fishing, camping trip, the list goes on!

What were your biggest concerns prior and have those concerns been managed or have they just changed as you’ve gone through the process? 

Josh and I were nervous as certain issues came up with each of our children. They have been through hell and back. Having a good therapist is a MUST! We wouldn’t have been able to deal with the issues and our concerns on our own. Reaching out for help, having a support group is important.

Have you met the children prior to them staying in your home? 

Only 2 weeks before!

What types of help and support do you receive? Therapy!

What have you learned from the experience?

We both have learned so much about ourselves. We teach our kids we are all human and it’s OK to mess up. We aren’t perfect parents either but we gave birth to our five kids from our heart. Love is thicker than blood.

What’s the most important thing you’d want people to know/understand about fostering? 

There are so many wonderful kids stuck in the system that are on a waiting list for a forever home. I hope our personal experience can help plant seeds in others hearts.

See the Gross Family on Ellen:

 Tessa Wesnitzer is a mom of two boys and a fitness coach. She lives and writes outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.

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