Published in our 2016 Annual Report.
It takes an open heart and spirit to welcome a child in need of a nurturing home. For New Orleans’ legendary Romig family, embracing and caring for foster children was part of the family culture. Over the course of 10 years, the Romig family opened their hearts and home to 21 infants who were given the gift of a loving start to life.
Janice and Jerry Romig always wanted a large family. With four children under the age of 8 – Jay, Mark, Ann, and Mary Beth – the Romigs lost their fifth child due to Rh Factor incompatibility. Two years later they experienced the loss of their sixth child.
One afternoon, Jerry, who was working at WDSU-TV at the time, called home to encourage Janice to watch an interview about foster parenting that was set to air during the noon newscast. “We loved children and wanted to have beaucoup kids,” said Janice. “After watching the interview, we talked about it and decided to try foster parenting.”
Janice and Jerry would pick up foster infants, some as young as two days old, and care for them until the babies were adopted. Their foster children instantly became a part of the Romig family, always with them whether they were cheering on the kids at the ballpark or together on family vacation.
‘Our hearts are big. We never knew anything different; it was how we grew up,’ – Mary Beth Romig
The babies stayed in the Romig’s care anywhere from two to six months. When the time came for the babies to join their adoptive parents, Janice created care packages for each foster child – a thoughtfully packed diaper bag complete with bottles, toys, an outfit, baby pictures, the baby’s feeding and sleep schedule, and a special letter “from baby” to their new mother. The letter shared insights about the baby’s unique needs, their likes and dislikes, and loving guidance for their individual care.
“Our hearts are big. We never knew anything different; it was how we grew up,” recalled Mary Beth Romig who was only five years old when the Romig family welcomed the first foster child into their home. “This was simply a part of our life. “
Ten years and 21 foster children later, Janice became pregnant at the age of 44. The Romigs were blessed with their youngest daughter, Ellen. “We all knew that mom and dad would be blessed with this miracle baby after all they had done for the foster children they cared for,” added Mary Beth.
The Romigs would go on to care for three more infants awaiting adoption, growing the total number of children they fostered to 24.
Caring for foster children was a family affair.
“I couldn’t have managed without Jerry and the children,” said Janice. “Jerry would warm the bottles. The kids would help feed the babies, play with them, walk them and rock them to sleep.” Together they marveled and celebrated each baby’s milestones.
Guided by their Catholic faith, the Romig family was called to love and provide for young children. They hold dear special memories of each child they looked after, and cherish their family’s rewarding foster care journey. Learn more about how YOU can become a foster parent through our Therapeutic Family Services program.