Eat, play and pray: All are welcome in the Robards home

When you were growing up, did your home have a revolving door where kids were welcome any time to pull up a chair or tag along to church? For the Robards, they are that family. Between fostering through the Commonwealth and Sunrise, they’ve had a combined 22 placements in their home since 2009 and there’s an open door policy in the neighborhood.

The Lord is at work here.

“We’ve always had kids in our home. We’re the house where everybody goes,” said Janene Robards, who is currently parenting eight children, along with her husband Tim. They have three biological children, a teenage daughter they are currently fostering, and four adopted children.

God’s work began with the Robards before they became certified foster parents. They were caring for their biological children, but also served in an unofficial capacity to a brother and sister in their community, who were four and six years old at the time. The Robards’ eldest daughter noticed the two needed more of a family and social interaction and began inviting the kids to church with them every Sunday. They picked them up and did this every week for three years. Then, the Robards realized they had to do more to help more kids.

Kellie Neal, foster care program director for Sunrise’s Lakes and Rivers Region, was instrumental in bringing the Robards to Sunrise in 2013. What attracted the family to Sunrise are its Christian-based mission and principles and access to a wonderful network of Sunrise foster parents willing to provide help and advice.

“No one really understands but other foster parents,” said Janene and Tim, who work great together as a team, but certainly don’t feel like they’re caring for all these children alone. They credit Sunrise with helping them through major hurdles along the way, providing therapy when it’s most needed, and being an extra set of eyes and ears for each of the children. Sunrise has even helped the Robards, in some cases, maintain relationships with the biological families of the children because they know that’s the best outcome.

“Their parents can make a mistake just like us, but we deal with it and move on,” said Janene. “I love these kids, therefore I love their families.”

Note: For the safety and privacy of certain children and youth, their faces are protected and their real names aren’t used.


Written by Melissa Bailey, Sunrise Associate Director of Communication.

Jake Pelfrey