The sound of laughter and pattering feet fills the Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of Elaine C. Swanberg and her husband Mike L. Johnson daily as their foster grandchildren learn the true meaning of family.
Elaine, 53, and Mike, 61, met while working at a department store and married in 1997. After raising four now-grown children, both felt an interest in foster care and decided to go to an informational meeting.
But the couple dropped their pursuit of foster care and took on the challenge of helping to raise a new grandbaby. They spent the next few years navigating the foster system to first gain custody of and eventually adopt their grandson. Austin is now 13.
Elaine and Mike heard about through a foster kids backpack giveaway hosted by Hearts CRI, an outreach of the church. They subsequently began attending Brighton AG. But due to Austin’s trauma from his foster journey, he struggled in situations outside the home. Elaine and Mike left him unaccompanied for the initial time in kid’s church.
“Those in the kids’ center were the first ones who knew how to help him,” Elaine says.
Elaine says they wanted to finalize Austin’s adoption before their foster care license needed renewal, but she felt God nudging them to open their home to more children.
“I just knew in my heart we were supposed to do it, but I was not willing,” she says. Then pastor preached a sermon on how Christians should bring strangers into their home.
“Suddenly, I’m crying, and everything was lifted from me,” Elaine says. “It turned our lives around.”