Gaynelle & Willie Powell: Fostering is a ministry
By Intisar Seraaj-Sabree
Since November of 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Willie and Gaynelle Powell have fostered more than 25 children. For them, fostering is a ministry in which they can teach youth how to lead successful lives and encourage them to seize opportunities they wish they had while growing up.
One vital part of leading a successful life is being responsible, and teaching this concept to their foster youth was a major challenge for the Powells, according to Gaynelle.
In March of 2001, the Powells’ teachings were put to the test when they received two teen siblings. They later received the siblings’ two younger siblings in January of 2002 and in March of 2005. All of the siblings
While in their care, Gaynelle and Willie taught their foster children to be responsible students in school and to be responsible in seizing available opportunities. As their wards crept towards the age of legal independence, the Powells also had to reassure the youth that they were strong and smart enough to succeed in the world on their own after they left the Powells’ home.
“They were skeptical about leaving, and felt like they couldn’t make it,” said Gaynelle. “But they’ve found that they can make it on their own.”
Gaynelle said her adopted children are now working and gaining more experience in independence and accountability. Some of them are raising families of their own.
Although they live on their own, their past foster children maintain contact with Gaynelle and Willie. Gaynelle said they love to visit and eat at her home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and on Sundays for dinner.
Their love for children and a full house has Willie asking Gaynelle when they’ll start fostering more children. Likewise, this is why they began fostering.
Through 2001 to 2005, the Powells received a sibling group: Thomas, Chadwich, and Mariah O’Neal. After fostering them for six years and overcoming several challenges, the Powells decided to adopt them. Gaynelle said she found out how many foster homes they had been in and out of and knew it was time to adopt them.
“I got tired of them being moved and tossed like a ball,” said Gaynelle.
This adoption was also a way for the Powells to finally have a daughter. Gaynelle said she has always wanted a daughter to raise and nurture.