Crystal and Devin Durain are changing lives, one foster child, at a time. The family opened their hearts and their home to children in need seven years ago as foster parents through Marion County Children’s Services.
“We had difficulty conceiving at first, and we were planning to adopt,” said Crystal. “We took a class on working with families and our vision changed. We both felt pulled to help families as a whole.”
So after hours of training, tons of paperwork, and a home study, the Durains became licensed foster parents in 2014. Their first foster children were siblings: a baby girl and her toddler brother. So far, the Durains have cared for 16 children through the program, ranging in age from infants to teenagers.
“When that first call came, we scrambled to gather what we needed within an hour or two. While my husband was filling out paperwork at Children’s Services, I was scurrying to get a pack-n-play and baby clothes quickly!” Crystal Durain recalls.
Over time, they developed a network of church groups, other families, and social media friends who are ready to go into action when “the call” comes in.
“It’s overwhelming…the amount of support and people who really want to give. We’re a prayerful family and God always provides,” stated Crystal.
The Durain home is busy. In addition to their foster children, the couple has three biological sons: Deacon, age 9; Elliot, age 6; and Foster, age 4.
Their caseworker, Karena Pryor with Marion County Children’s Services, said: “Crystal and Devin Durain have incorporated fostering as a way of life for their family and ensure the children placed in their care feel like part of their family. It is difficult to distinguish who is biological and who is not when visiting in the home; all children are treated equally. Crystal and Devin are great advocates for fostering.”
“When Deacon was little, he would make it a point to include (in bedtime prayers) a prayer for the mommy or daddy of our foster kids to get better so they can be together again.” Children’s Services and foster parents focus on reuniting foster children with their birth family if it is possible.
Once foster children are able to return home, it can be hard to say goodbye. “One boy we fostered for about 6 months; he and Deacon were just like brothers. Later, we went to Florida for vacation and the family was living there. We spent a day together at Chuck E. Cheese…the boys were SO excited to see each other!” After kids return to their birth families, the Durains stay in touch.
The local need for foster and adoptive parents is great. In 2020, 296 local children were placed in foster care. Marion County Children’s Services only has 37 licensed foster homes, and only seven who accept kids are 16 or older. Seven local children are waiting for their forever families and six of them are teenagers.
The Durains have advice for anyone considering becoming a foster parent. “I tell it straight. Children often come to you with many unmet needs – eyeglasses, dental work, mental health issues, speech therapy, and on. It can be hard when the needs are great and you’re balancing that with school, work, and life in general,” Crystal stated. “You pour love, effort, and energy into each one. Our family isn’t perfect, but it’s good to be able to show kids a loving, caring family life.”
With the Durains, the decision to foster new children is a family discussion. “This (fostering) is all our boys have ever known. Now that they’re older, we get their input first,” said Crystal. “One time, a 9-year-old girl needed us. The boys were thrilled to learn that she loved sports and pro wrestling!”
This family effort pays dividends for Marion.
“Devin and Crystal believe in the safety and well-being of children, which is evidenced by the children in their own home,” said Elizabeth Moore, Foster Care, and Community Engagement Coordinator with Children’s Services. “Fostering is truly a family endeavor for the Durains, with all three of their children seeking out ways to love and serve their community.”
For more information about becoming a foster parent, contact Moore at 740-386-0465 or go to www.marionkids.com.