Youth Villages stories
Four generations of adopting
The Jewett-Winter family has a long history of adoption. Pam herself was adopted by her parents, and her mom also was adopted. Early in their marriage, Pam and Bryan adopted their now-adult daughter through a private agency. The couple also has five of their own biological children.
In early 2017, after most of their children were out of the house, they took classes to become certified as a foster home through Youth Villages in East Tennessee.
“We went to our first class just to learn about the fostering process, not necessarily planning to adopt,” Pam said. “We learned about what a huge need there is for fostering and adopting, so we jumped in.”
Since then, they have fostered 14 children, including weekend respites, and medically fragile children. One of Pam’s daughters adopted their third foster child, so she is now a grandchild. Pam’s friend adopted another of her foster children, and Pam stays in touch with most of her foster placements.
They took Grace in foster care in February 2020, and by August, they adopted her. Grace is 16 years old, and Pam didn’t want to see her age out of foster care without a family of her own. As part of her adoption process, Grace wanted Elizabeth to be her middle name because all of the women in the Jewett-Winter family share Elizabeth as a middle name.
The couple now has children ranging from 16 to 34 years old.
Because of her fostering work, Pam got involved with Knoxville, Tennessee-based Compassion Closet, a clothing and durable needs nonprofit supplying foster and adoptive families. She was making the hour-long drive from LaFollette to Knoxville so often that she decided to help open a Compassion Closet satellite in her county to help the fostering families nearby.
When asked if she has advice for those considering adoption, Pam says to start somewhere.
“Some people are hesitant to foster or adopt but I tell them how rewarding the experience is,” Pam said. “Helping kids reunite with their biological parents or find forever homes with someone else is still a good thing, too.”
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