Years after Hannah Ford’s husband passed away and her children began moving out of the home, she found that she had time on her hands but not many people around her anymore. Some folks would relish gaining back time for themselves, but not Ford—she's a woman who loves to give of herself. So instead of looking for other ways to fill her time, Ford took a friend’s suggestion that she become a foster mother. This new role seemed to be not just a natural fit but a calling, as Ford has fostered an incredible 189 children since that lonely time in 1983.
Ford, now 86 years old, has adopted seven of the children she has fostered. The outpouring of love and appreciation she has provided children in foster care is nothing short of heartwarming and inspiring. Erica Woodberry, an adopted daughter who is now 48, was 12 when she joined Ford’s home with her sister after years of moving between different houses. Woodberry describes Ford as a “very special person” and will never forget the first meal Ford cooked for them. “It was pork chops and I’d never tasted meat that was so good,” Woodberry recalls. “She sat there at the table asking us questions about ourselves. We weren’t used to that.”
Other children who were adopted or passed through Ford’s home speak just as highly about the love and care they experienced. Ford’s fostering approach, it seems, offers guidance and extends a feeling of calm and comfort to the children around her—a welcome change and positive influence for the many who had experienced so much displacement and disruption in their lives.
“She knows how to build trust. She was like a mother figure to me and I needed that,” says 38-year-old Kendall Givens-Little who was lovingly absorbed into Ford's home as a teenager. Givens-Little is now director of strategic communications at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and is one of Ford’s many children who is thriving as an adult.
Ford celebrates her 87th birthday in December and has no plans to stop her outpouring of love toward children who need it most. She is busy fostering two young men and also taking care of two of her adopted children, now adults, who were born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Despite her age, Ford still has a lot of energy—even her children struggle to keep up with her as she puts her all into maintaining her property as the haven it provides to others.
“I don’t see any end in sight. As long as God continues to give me strength and guidance and wisdom, I’ll keep doing this,” Ford says. “There are just too many children out there in need. They’re coming out of situations where they’re not fed properly, they’re not loved properly. They need me and I need them.” Ford understands that relationships are dynamic and that she is as impacted by the children she cares for as much as they are by her; it’s perhaps the key to her incredible and inspiring work.
When Hannah Ford’s children left home, she filled the emptiness by becoming a foster mother. She has cared for 189 children since 1983.
Ford adopted seven of the children she fostered, and at 86, she has no plans to stop the work she does in providing a home for children who need it most.