Being a police officer and a social worker, Rob and Kristen Martin are no strangers to serving others. Rob has been on the police force for 12 years, and Kristen is the Executive Director of Thrive, a non-profit organization committed to helping adults with mental disabilities. The couple met in college in Pennsylvania and were married in July of 2006.
Rob and Kristen now live in Flat Rock, North Carolina on Kristen’s family farmland, in the exact spot where they said their “I do’s” 15 years ago. After finding out that they could not have biological children, Rob and Kristen pursued private adoption through Bethany Christian Services. Eight years ago, the couple adopted Joe, their first son, who is blessed to have an open adoption with his birth mother and extended family.
When the couple was ready to grow their family again, they decided to get involved with foster care. They were good friends with Tanya Blackford, Crossnore’s Western Region Executive Director. Because of Tanya’s excitement and advocacy, the Martins decided to pursue licensure with Crossnore. Rob and Kristen were also inspired after hearing our CEO, Brett Loftis, speak and saw him personally living out Crossnore’s mission in his own life. “That was a big deal to us,” says Kristen.
The couple completed their training through Crossnore’s Hendersonville office and became licensed in just four months. In October of 2019, they got a call about a sibling group of brothers—a five-year-old and two almost four-year-old twins. At the time, they were living at another community-based foster home nearby. “I was ready to go for it!” says Rob.
“Wait, there are how many and they’re how old?” Kristen remembers saying. In wisdom, the couple talked it over for a couple weeks. They then arranged a playdate between Joe and the boys but didn’t indicate to any of them that it was more than that.
After a successful playdate, the couple again met with Crossnore staff. “I giggled my way through the whole meeting,” recalls Kristen. “Apparently I’m a nervous giggler.” More crazy news awaited them. “They said, ‘Surprise. There’s also a baby girl, and it’s a package deal,’” remembers Rob. They were both in shock, and Kristen giggled. Again.
Adjusting to a family of seven.
Obviously going from a family of three to a family of seven was a big deal, and so the Martins began providing short term respite care for the three brothers, who were in one home, and their baby sister, who was in another. Respite care was a great way to give everyone some time to adjust. The boys moved in permanently on February 27, 2020, and their sister moved in on March 26th. The adoption finalized on December 30th of last year.
The family celebrated with a small pizza party and Fanta. “The kids were way more excited about the party than they were the news. They were like, ‘Oh. Cool. Can we get some Fanta?’” laughs Kristen. Even though they couldn’t fully understand it, this was huge, especially for the boys—Davin, Danny, and Donny—who had lived in four homes in their short lives.
Constant support from Crossnore.
Although the boys have had some behaviors related to their instability and trauma, Kristen and Rob say that therapy has made a huge difference in all their lives. They have been especially grateful for the Crossnore therapists who have been willing to come to their home and do therapy outdoors. “It’s hard when Rob is on shift to figure out how to get one to therapy and what to do with the others during the appointment. Crossnore had been so great to come to our home to make it easier on me,” says Kristen.
Even with COVID restrictions, Crossnore has been there every step of the way with meals, diapers, therapist visits, and more. And thankfully, Gigi and Pop, Kristen’s parents, live just next door. “I’ve learned to lower my expectations of myself a bit,” says Kristen. “If I can get everyone breakfast and out the door to school on time, it’s a good day. We have to be realistic. We both work full time and have five children.”
FIVE amazing kids.
And what an amazing five children they are. Joe, now eight years old, is an excellent big brother. He enjoys teaching his younger siblings how to do Legos, plant a garden, and how to do bead art. He’s a fierce protector of his baby sister. Davin, seven, is funny, with a dry sense of humor, and likes to tell jokes. He loves basketball, reading, and rollercoasters.
Donny, age five, is a love bug. “Donny is always telling us we are the best mommy and daddy in the world. He will follow me around the house, kiss my hand, and tell me I’m a beautiful mommy,” says Kristen. He loves to play with his brothers, is very ticklish, and will giggle about anything. Danny, his twin brother, is fiercely independent and wants to do everything himself. He loves big bear hugs, playing cars, wrestling, and jumping on the trampoline. Kristen laughs. “Danny wants to be just like Rob and Joe but doesn’t want them to know it.”
And sweet Daisy, now two years old, is super bright. Her brothers want to protect her, and she just wants to be in charge. She loves unicorns, her princess cowgirl boots, and galloping around the house after her brothers. She wants to do whatever they’re doing and hates to be left out of the fun.
Big hopes for bright futures.
Rob and Kristen have big hopes for their children. “I can’t wait to see the impact they make on this world. They are all exceptional!” says Kristen. Even with a full house and a hectic life, the Martins would encourage those thinking about fostering to take the leap. “There are so many children in need,” says Kristen, “and you have more love in your heart than you know. Be ready to partner with birth parents, mentor when needed, but mostly, to love a child without any judgment.”
As for Rob and Kristen, the love in their hearts (and the noise level in their home) has quadrupled. And they would be quick to say that all of them are better off because of it.