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Big Sisters

Featured Photo from Big Sisters

These Lake Mary siblings have brightened the lives of dozens of foster kids

You’ve heard the term foster parents, but when it comes to the Griers, foster family is more accurate. The Lake Mary family has proven it has more than enough love to go around.

Amy and Jordan Grier and their two daughters, London (age 12), and Vera (10), decided as a family to join the foster-care network. They partner with Embrace Families, the local organization that oversees foster care, adoption, and child welfare services in Seminole, Orange, and Osceola counties.

The family’s goal was simple, really.

“We started fostering because we wanted to impact kids in our community,” says Amy. “Our goal was not to adopt,” she adds with a laugh.

Amy and Jordan were very content with their two biological girls, but felt they had space in their house and love to give.
“We wanted to take in one child at a time, younger girls,” Amy recalls.

But as most in the foster community know, little goes according to plan. The Griers’ first placement was a boy, and since 2015, the family has fostered nine children long-term – some siblings, some teens –  and nearly 20 other kids for short-term visits, which lasted overnight or as long as a week.

But nothing happens without the agreement of all family members – including the sisters.

London is the mini mom, says Amy, “and Vera is Mom, Jr. in training. They’re super helpful, and we could not do it without their support. When we started fostering, Vera was four and London was six, so they’ve really grown up having kids coming in and out of our home.”

Every time the family agrees to a new foster placement, the Griers talk it over. Amy and Jordan realize that it’s a family effort – and sometimes a family sacrifice – and everyone must be on board.

The family had a difficult experience several years ago, and Amy and Jordan considered a break. But the sisters kept asking, “Have we not been getting calls? When will we foster again?” Two weeks later, Amy and Jordan received a call regarding twins who needed placement. London and Vera were ready.

“The girls are always so willing and open,” Amy says.

The foster twins came to the Grier house when they were about nine months old with medical issues and challenges due to delayed development. London and Vera were instrumental in helping them adjust to their new home, so much so that the family adopted Winnie and Jordan, Jr. about 22 months later. The twins are now happy, healthy four-year-olds who look up to their big sisters. 

When asked if London is a good big sister, Winnie giggles, rolls her eyes a bit, and shouts an emphatic, “YES!”

“You only really want to do it if you feel you’re called to do it,” says London, a sixth grader who enjoys horseback riding. “You should definitely feel that you’re supposed to.” 

Vera thinks about her role as a big sister before adding with a wide smile, “Hmm... I help with fashion!”

Vera loves playing dress-up with Winnie, with whom she shares a room. She also participates in a local theater group.

“I also watch them, and I sometimes clean their rooms – I play with them,” says the fourth grader.

Mom reminds Vera that she’s also taught a few of the family’s foster children how to ride a bike. 

The Griers have seen it all – they have experienced reunifications between foster children and their biological parents, they’ve adopted, and they’ve even had friends adopt children who were in their care. Their family unit is more of a forest than a tree, says Amy. Every situation is different.

“You have to be ready for what’s to come,” says London, who often talks to her friends about adoption. “It’s emotional, but it’s good.”

London and Vera are experts at sharing. They also recognize there may be some sacrifices. More children in the home means less time with mom or dad, but Amy and Jordan somehow make time for everyone.

“We’re really intentional about having one-on-one time with them or pairing off,” Amy says. “London helps me so much, but she has to be a kid, too.”

No matter who is in the house, the Griers operate like any family – and everyone is included. They have family movie nights, and they go to the beach or a theme park. At Thanksgiving, they all head to the family farm.

“We love having children in our home and different kids,” says London. “We treat them as if they’re our siblings.”

The sisters embrace fostering as a bonus and not a burden. They are happy participants and have been a great influence to so many children.

“We get to share our family and our home,” London says.

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