10 years ago, when the youngest of their three biological children was 5, Steven and Kristen Marler decided to become a part of Wyoming’s Department of Family Services Foster Care Program.

“Neither Steven or I had any personal connection to foster care, but we had always felt called to it. Even before we were married we agreed that it was something we wanted to do.”

The first thing they did was sit down with their children, who were 8,7 and 5 at the time, and have an open and honest discussion with them. “It would have been unfair of us to do this without our family on board.” Kristen then went on to say that a lot of change comes with their lifestyle. From sharing rooms with strangers to learning that other’s needs sometimes must come first, Kristen explained that her children have learned the true meaning of grace, love, and forgiveness. “There is no better way to teach children how to selflessly give of their heart than to welcome another child into your home”.

The Marler family now has a total of 11 children, with all 8 adopted children coming from the Wyoming Foster Care System. Kristen was unsure of the total number of children that have been welcomed in her home, but guessed the number was around 70. With all of them coming from the Wyoming Department of Family Services Foster Care System, and the majority from Natrona County.

“We couldn’t do this without the help of each and every family member. Steven has talked me down out of the tree more times than I can count!” Kristen says with a laugh. “We are truly blessed with children that have a heart for this.” Kristen agrees that sometimes it’s resulted in tough conversations with her kids. “They have learned that what you do is who you are, and that can have a negative or positive impact on everyone around you based on your choices.”

“We come crashing into these families’ and children’s lives and we have realized that our family is here for a purpose.” It’s clear to see that what the Marler’s are doing is contributing to creating a better Wyoming. When a Foster Child is welcomed into the Marler family it gives these children an opportunity to know stability and love, even if it’s only for a brief time. They realize that they are worthy and that they are valued. They see a two-parent family, a husband that works alongside his wife as an equal partner. Steven offers these children a male role model that can show both tenderness and strength. These children leave with hope in a future that can be different from what they’ve previously seen.

Usually, there is little to no notice when a new child will be arriving. The struggle to quickly gather up exactly what each child needs is complicated. It can result in franticly digging through a storage closet or midnight runs to Walmart for clothing and formula. Children often arrive with little or no clothing, dirty and emotionally and physically battered.

This is where the Marler's have seen their local community step in to help. From friends dropping off gently used clothing items in just the right size, to donations of gift cards and even things like bringing by a meal or helping out with housework, Kristen continues to be amazed at the generosity of others. She explains why it is SO important for these children to know there is an entire community working to help them.

“If these kids who feel like they are nothing, whose own families have made them feel less than, see that they have not just us, but an entire community rooting for them…Not only ready to help them, but happy to…Imagine what that can mean to the future of Wyoming!”

Because of the Marler family, and many others in our community like them, these Foster Children receive the message that we are ALL here for them, that we care. With this knowledge these children may go on to become leaders in our community as examples of strength and courage to others.

If you’re looking for ways to help a foster family in your life here are a few ideas from the Marler family. If you are interested in fostering children please follow this link for more information.

  • Donations of nonperishable items to your local DFS (diapers, coats, hair brushes, hair ties, sanitary napkins, underwear and socks, and fabric drawstring bags/totes).
  • Transportation to and from activities (all you need is a driver’s license and background check).
  • A “Foster Child Shower” with items the children can then take back home with them when they leave.
  • Buy family passes to local places like the rec center and science museums and donate them to Foster Families.
  • Freezer meals or grocery store gift cards.
  • Donate your gas points to help with transportation costs.
  • Add money to a Foster Family’s account at their local Once Upon a Child store.

Those living in Natrona County can call Rose (307)473-3924 or Amanda (307)473-3925 with any inquires.

'Wyoming's Worthy' are Wyomingites that make us proud to call this wild and wonderful state our home.