By Casey Murphy
Tim Fauss has a long history of helping children, from assisting his father in a children’s ministry, to working with at-risk youth at the Smith County Juvenile Services Department. That experience has helped him foster and adopt five young siblings.
Celebrating his first Father’s Day after adopting the children in May, Fauss said he now feels more like a real father.
“This is permanent now,” he said. “They have our last names so it feels more real.”
Fauss and his wife Erica have been married for seven years and began fostering children in their home in 2020. Before they married, they talked about fostering but planned on having children of their own first.
“But God had a different plan,” Fauss said. “He told us that families can get started in different ways, so we felt that it was our calling as a couple to care for children in need and started the process to become foster parents.”
Mrs. Fauss said during the early days of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, they began to look at the option to foster to adopt.
“Maybe it was us being tired of putting together 1,000-piece puzzles or tired of sitting on our couch and hearing the same news over and over again,” she said. “But I like to think our lives slowed down enough for us to hear God’s calling to open our home to children in need.”
She said they have always wanted children of their own and that may not be out of the question, “but the voice in our hearts was telling us why not now?”
Mrs. Fauss said her husband has so much experience working with children that she knew he would be a good role model and provide structure to foster children.
Fauss is a probation/supervision officer for Smith County Juvenile Services. For its H.O.P.E. Academy, a residential program for male juvenile offenders, Fauss teaches an array of life skills. He is also certified in teaching and certifying the kids in food handling licenses and cooking classes.
Fauss said he enjoys working with youths, trying to help make a difference in their lives and to help break the cycle that is often generational. That is part of the reason why they were willing to foster and adopt older children.
Working with kids began long before he started his career.
When he was a kid, Fauss was in the Royal Rangers, a religious organization for boys. When he was in college, he helped lead a group of middle school-aged boys and now that he has sons of his own, he is involved in the organization once again.
Mrs. Fauss didn’t know if she could compete with her husband’s experience, but she believed her mother provided her with a great foundation of discipline, good values, and a serving heart. She works in human resources, knew of several people who fostered or adopted children and felt it was something she wanted to do.
“So, in the midst of the stay-at-home orders, we anxiously prepared for the new chapter in our lives, by completing several training courses in the evenings and had all sorts of people digging into our family history, backgrounds and personal lives,” Mrs. Fauss said. “Looking back, that was the easy part.”
They were licensed in November 2020, and quickly began getting calls about several siblings who needed foster parents.
“We wanted to offer siblings the chance to stay together and have each other, to not feel alone in a new place,” she said.
They soon had a 2 ½ year-old girl and 11-month-old boy. During the 13 months they fostered them, they learned a lot about the children, and about themselves.
“When they were reunified with their parents, Erica and I thought long and hard about our desire to foster to adopt rather than traditional foster care,” Fauss said. “We were longing for something more permanent, so we reached out to our foster care licensing agency and inquired about adopting.”
In May of 2022, they were presented with the five siblings – three boys and two girls, ages 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 – who they would ultimately adopt.
“After praying about it, talking about it, and discussing it with friends and family, we decided to proceed,” he said.
In June of 2022, they met with CPS, CASA and the kids’ foster parents at the time. The two older boys were with different foster parents than the three little ones and were located in different towns. They only saw each other once a month during supervised visits.
“The kids had been separated from each other since October of 2020, and coming to us was their last chance at finding a forever home where they could all be together,” Fauss said.
After several weekend visits with the kids in their home, they were placed with them in August of 2022, and finally adopted them in May of 2023.
“Having a strong relationship with each other and knowing we would have tough times, but nothing we couldn’t handle together – that is what helped us make a decision to adopt,” Mrs. Fauss said. “We are always told that we make a great team.”
Fauss, who grew up in Lindale, has three sisters and his wife came from a family of five. “Having five kids is pretty much the way I grew up – the more, the merrier,” she said.
Having five young children at home, Fauss said,“ they keep life very interesting.”
The kids have had trouble adapting at times and they don’t always get along since the older boys weren’t use to living with their younger siblings. But the couple reminds them that when they are older, they will have siblings by their side who will always have their back.
Fauss said working at Juvenile Services has helped him understand the effects that trauma can have on a child, including behavioral issues. He uses approaches that have helped him at work, such as using more positive wording to redirect bad behavior and being able to tune out negative, attention-seeking behavior.
“There is a lot of bickering but that is just what kids do,” Mrs. Fauss said, adding that it brings them joy to see the children bonding.
To celebrate the adoption, they recently took a vacation to South Padre, where Mrs. Fauss has family.
“It feels like we’re a true family now that the adoption is final,“ she said. “Now they’re our kids and we have a complete say on how we raise them. It’s a really good feeling to have that confirmation that we are your mom and dad.”