by Leonard Favela
Featured in the 2016 edition of the BCFS System magazine, “together”
From the long, winding driveway, the Goulet family home looks perfectly serene, nestled in the Texas Hill Country. But step inside their expansive estate, and the quiet country scenery gives way to the joyful commotion of children running, playing and giggling.
Mrs. Jill Goulet sits in the family room, recalling when she and her husband, Denis, contemplated their journey to their fulfilling, exciting lives as foster and adoptive parents with BCFS.
“Six years ago, on the very day we got licensed (as foster parents), we got a call for an emergency placement of a six-week old infant that was being discharged from the hospital. That was Nathan.”
Over the course of just five years, the Goulet family took in six children from foster care, and adopted each of them into the family.
The Goulets welcomed Nathan in September 2010. A month later, two-and-a-half year old Judy joined the family as the second foster child. In November 2011, the family fostered Brian and Katie, a sibling duo, and in March 2015, welcomed the sisters, Autumn and Summer.
A Prayerful Beginning
“We always wanted a big family,” she admits. “My husband comes from a family of nine, I come from a family of five.”
The couple shared how they turned to the Lord for guidance when they struggled with infertility issues. “We started praying about it, and we felt like God was putting it on our hearts to adopt kids,” Mrs. Goulet says. “Family can look different, and a lot of different situations can be considered ‘family.’”
Even after four children from foster care had already joined the Goulet family (Nathan, Judy, Brian and Katie), Mr. and Mrs. Goulet decided they weren’t done yet!
“God was putting it on our hearts to open our house up again,” Mrs. Goulet says, “and that’s when we got Autumn and Summer.”
The Goulet Kids
Today, the first child the Goulets adopted, Nathan, at six years old, is the youngest, along with Katie, also six. Brian and Autumn are both seven, Judy is eight, and Summer, at 10, is the big sister. All at once, all six children bound into the Goulet homestead each day at around 3:20 p.m. The calm, quiet household transforms into a bustling scene as Mrs. Goulet quickly adapts from willing interviewee to attentive mom, lovingly tending to each child as they approach her with updates from school, questions about snack time, the dinner menu and the family pet. It’s beautifully frenetic; it’s family.
Brian, the most talkative, is excited about a toy snake he won at school. “His name is Slinky, because he can do this,” as he bounces the swirled rubber toy off the table.
As the kids hear mom begin to talk about family trips, Summer mentions past destinations Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan, Disneyworld and Niagara Falls. Nathan adds excitedly, “and Meemaw’s house!” — Mrs. Goulet’s mother in Pennsylvania.
It’s evident: this energetic, playful group of children enjoys plenty of adventures at home and on the road, and — like most families — they keep a full schedule of hobbies, lessons and sports.
“Autumn and Judy take guitar lessons, and all the girls do ballet and tap dancing. Summer is on the volleyball team at school, and she also does robotics,” Mrs. Goulet says. Before she has time to mention the boys’ activities, Judy asks her mom if she can have candy for snack.
“Nathan is going to be in baseball,” Mrs. Goulet says, before offering Judy a healthier alternative to the treat she requested. “Brian loves to design and build things. He wants to be an inventor.”
The other children have also shared dreams of what they want to be when they grow up and depending on which Goulet child you ask, the answer may vary from day to day (as it tends to for this age group), but their responses are a delightful grab bag of careers: a fashion designer, a chef, a vet and a dancer. Most heartwarming is Nathan’s response. “Without fail, he will tell you he wants to be a dad,” Mrs. Goulet says with pride.
Blessed Beyond Measure
“We’ve never had biological kids, but I can’t imagine loving kids any more than we do… We feel blessed to be a blessing,” Mrs. Goulet says, “and there are so many kids out there that need a home, and we love kids.”
The Goulets adopted all six children through BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio Foster Care & Adoption program. The BCFS team was by their side every step of the way, especially BCFS case manager Erika Noriega, who Mrs. Goulet said was instrumental in bringing their family together.
“Erika gives 110% of her effort,” said Mrs. Goulet. “She really went above and beyond, she was an amazing advocate for the kids.”
In many adoption cases, the child’s past experiences and family history can be complicated and upsetting – for a young child, the details may be too intense to understand. For the day when their kids are old enough to comprehend their pasts, Mr. and Mrs. Goulet are ready.
“I have all their case files, all their history,” Mrs. Goulet says. “Everything is packed away so the day they get curious about it, they will be able to read it, because they’re going to wonder. When they’re old enough to understand, we can go through it together. At some point, they may want to reach out (to their biological families), and that’s going to be their decision to make.”
While six children may seem like a full house, the Goulets have considered adopting more children. For now, Mr. and Mrs. Goulet focus on nurturing, loving and guiding their own six. More family trips, stay-at-home movie nights and special birthday dinners are penciled in on the calendar for the foreseeable future. The Goulets wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It gets a little crazy sometimes, but it sure is fun,” Mrs. Goulet smiles.
Visit DiscoverBCFS.net/FosterCare for more information or to read the stories of other families.