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Tennessee couple accept 40th foster child

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (BP)–Jane Nason could only smile recently as she listened to a news broadcast out of Memphis.

The announcement described the plight of Baby Jane (not her real name). The baby had been born in a restroom and left in a trash dumpster to die.

By the grace of God, however, a janitor discovered blood in the restroom, traced it to the dumpster and quickly called the police. A policeman climbed into the dumpster and rescued the infant, who was then rushed to a nearby hospital.

The reason Nason could smile about such a tragic story was that although the announcer did not even know if the baby was still in the hospital, she knew the baby was safe and sound in her arms.

Nason and her husband, Mike, program director for the Boys Ranch of Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home here, just hours earlier had received the baby into their care as their 40th foster child.

The Nasons’ involvement in foster care began 15 years ago while he was youth minister at Whitten Memorial Baptist Church in Memphis.

Nason said he was convicted to be outspoken against abortion. He heard a preacher say something, however, that made him think seriously.

“If abortion is outlawed, what will happen to the babies?”

“We felt convicted to do something so we contacted the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes about foster care,” he recalled.

They began the process of getting approved and in June of 1985 accepted their first foster child. At the time they had two children of their own, Amanda, now 20 and a student at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and Matthew, now 18, and a high school senior.

Their family now includes another son, Jonathan, 10, and Allen Michael, their 13th foster son, who they have since adopted.

Their extended foster care family includes a set of triplets, who recently returned to their mother. During the last five years there have been only seven days when there was not at least one baby in the Nason household.

The Nasons, now members of Faith Baptist Church, Bartlett, Tenn., smile and note that perhaps their biggest challenge was providing care for the three little girls for 20 months.

The triplets had been born to a 17-year-old unwed mother. They were able to care for the babies until their mother was able to take care for them. The Nasons have maintained contact with the mother and the triplets. They still “baby sit” the girls on occasion to give the mother a break.

Jane Nason admitted that it can be hard when it comes time to give the babies up, but she noted it can be exciting too because families are united.

Mike Nason said the hard part is “when you see babies return to a bad situation.”

Jane noted that in many cases the baby returns to only the mother. “This is hard for Mike because he knows he might be the only daddy they will ever know.”

In 1996, Mike Nason was contacted by Gerald Stow, TBCH president, about joining the TBCH staff at the Boys Ranch in Millington.

One of the first questions they asked Stow was if they would still be able to serve as foster parents, the couple recalled.

“Foster care was (and is) our heartbeat,” they said. Both affirmed providing foster care has been a “God-called” ministry.

The Nasons observed they have seen couples go into foster care, have some bad experiences, and give it up.

“If you are not in it for the right reason, it will not work,” they stressed, “and the right reason is that God calls you to do it.”

Both agreed that the entire family, even extended family, must be in agreement about foster care.

“God has to call the family, especially if you have children,” Jane said. “Our children have always wanted us to take in the babies. They are a part of it,” she said.

Mike added that couples must be “confident in your own relationships. Bringing in a stranger will bring additional strain,” he observed.

The Nasons provide care for babies, but have taken older preschoolers.

“I enjoy the baby stage 2 and under,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed babies and nurturing them.”

The couple, both in their early 40s, has no plans to discontinue foster care for now. “I can’t think of any reason to stop unless our health fails, or perhaps, when we have grandchildren.”

“It won’t be any time soon,” Jane assured.

    About the Author

  • Lonnie Wilkey

    Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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