Josh and Julia Kuipers, who have a one-month-old daughter named Caroline, also care for seven boys ages 11–17 as "Teaching Parents" at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls, working 24/7 to counsel and support youth who are facing a wide range of issues, from emotional to judicial.
"To provide them that space and sense of safety so that they can process through important stuff — that's what we're about," said Josh, 29, who noted that the boys in their care "all have a complex life story."
Uprooting from their comfortable lives in Atlanta, the Kuipers moved to Richmond, Va., to fulfill their new parenting duties, as reported by WTVR. They are one of three sets of couples working as Teaching Parents at the nonprofit Virginia Home for Boys and Girls.
"There are kids that are here that have never experienced family," said 26-year-old Julia. One way she and her husband try to change that is with movie and board game nights. The Kuipers can also be spotted at the kids' sporting events, with Caroline strapped to her dad's chest. In a moment of family bonding, one of the boys even gave the baby his teddy bear.
The benefits of setting up misguided youth in a supportive family environment made all the difference for teen Kimberly Hallums. She came to the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls three years ago at the age of 15, after her adoptive mother died.
"At first I didn't want to be here. I was scared, nervous," Hallums said. But when asked about her experience with Teaching Parents, her emotions take over.
"It's a bond that's unbreakable," she said.
Hallums is now taking college courses and wants to be an attorney. It's these kinds of stories that make the Kuipers all the more sure of their decision to move from one state to another and care for kids they've never met.
"Extremely rewarding" is how Josh explains the experience.