Please note that this article was written in 2010. For current information about the Tutt Family see the THSC web site.
It is one thing to speak out about the evils of the World. It's quite another to physically address them in your everyday life. Christina Tutt does both daily. Her passion for the 150 million children of the World in need of parents permeates her conversations, Facebook posts, and blog; and when you step into her home you see she's not just talking the talk. Her beautiful family includes 4 birth children, 1 adopted and 3 foster children--rescued from the foster care system, the projects, and her own community.
Her first foray into helping children came through the CPS foster care system roughly 5 years ago. She and her husband, Trevor, a bearhug in human form whom the children affectionately call Pop, felt a call from God to become certified as a foster family through CPS. Just 7 days after they were licensed, a call came from a local caseworker who offered them a baby girl born addicted to cocaine. That little girl, who was also exposed to copious amounts of nicotine and alcohol in utero, is now a thriving member of the family and a daily reminder of the promise God made to Christina soon after that first descision to pursue foster parenting.
"As I was praying, God told me we would receive a bi-racial baby girl who was addicted to drugs and that she would thrive and never leave our home," Christina often relates to people new to the concept, "our Bailey Rose has been with us since she was 6 days old and she is definitely thriving!"
Bailey, a rambuctious ball of energy, was legally adopted into the Tutt family on National Adoption Awareness Day in November of 2008.
As she became more and more familiar with the system, Christina began to reach out and help parents who were at risk. Her reasoning, it is far better to give parents the tools they need to raise their children, rather than fill the system with even more broken children. She volunteers at her church's foster and adopt ministry, Ohana, which also provides parenting classes for at-risk families in the community. Christina also plugged herself into local foster care support groups and offers respite care for other foster parents.
That networking is what lead to the rescue of two of her children from a housing project in Fort Worth two years ago. Their 20 year old mother was incarcerated, leaving them with grandparents who had child abuse convictions and who often left the children (then ages 4, and 9 months old) alone. Their aunt rescued them, but she had just aged out of foster care herself and had no home. They were literally going to be on the street that night when Christina heard of their plight on a local fostering chat group.
"Trevor and I agreed that we would take children however they came to us, and that includes picking them up from a stranger in a Wendy's parking lot with only 3 hours notice."
The Tutts contacted their agency and also had the children's aunt report the incident to Child Protective Services immediately. CPS got in touch with the children's mother, who is still incarcerated, to set up guardianship. The children were underweight, developmentally delayed, and filled with fear. The respect and love of the family they found themselves in is obvious when you see them now, two years later, confident, healthy, and playing alongside their siblings and friends.
Christina has sought training from UNT and continually takes parenting classes in order to be equipped for the special neurologial needs of the children she is raising. Their exposure to drugs, trauma, and early neglect have created a "perfect storm" for developmental and emotional disorders many foster parents try to avoid. Unlike many parents seeking "perfect" children, Christina does just the opposite.
We very much want God to bring our new children, the children that He wants to be in our family, so we are open to whatever children He sends. Because of our experience with our children, we are specially equipped to handle children with special needs. In fact, we look for children with those special needs because there are so many children out there languishing in foster care because people don't want to adopt a child who have extra challenges. It isn't for everyone, but it is definitely for us!
Their care for the parents of the children they rescue is just as impressive as their care for the children themselves. Christina and Trevor set up safe boundaries from which contact can be maintained, communicate with, and pray for the family members of the children in their care.
Christina's confidence-building of the children is evident when you see the self-respect in their eyes. She speaks life and hope and a future into their ears every day. They are not the product of a mistake or a broken past, their parents bad life choices do not follow them. They are sons and daughters who are loved, blessed, and chosen. They can choose the path they want to take, one of responsibility and respect and good choices, instead of perpetuating the cycle of violence, neglect, and abuse they were brought out of.
Her love and heart for children in need was manifested in another way this past Easter, when Christina got her daughter's scouting organization involved in a service project to take gift baskets of baby clothes, wipes, toys and blankets to needy babies at in the newborn nursery at Parkland. Christina delivers baskets every Easter to Parkland, remembering when her daughter Bailey came to them from Parkland just 6 days old with nothing other than the tee shirt she was wearing.
It's a blessing to the parents who have nothing for their new babies, or to the foster parents who are receiving these babies into their homes, often with just an hour or two of notice. It is special for that child to have something tangible in the future that shows they were loved from the start, they were cared for by someone from the beginning.
That someone who cares for you from the start, in the Tutt home, is Jesus Christ. Christina credits God with the call, the strength, and the vision for what they do.
You can learn the latest about the Tutt family by clicking here.
If you would like to learn more about caring for children in need, you can connect with Ohana through their Facebook page.