An Interview with Kevin and Lisa Kolbe

As AGAPE of NC celebrates our 40th year, we wanted to speak to some of the families that have been with us since the beginning. Lisa and Kevin Kolbe have been a big part of AGAPE for years. They are the proud parents of Brandon (23), Ashland (20), and their youngest, Elias (13), who was fostered and adopted through AGAPE. We recently sat down with them to get their thoughts on fostering.

What got you interested in fostering?

LISA: I knew a family when I was in the youth group who fostered babies waiting for their adoption. I thought maybe one day after I have children I would be interested in fostering. And then that didn’t happen on our timetable. There was a night that I was really struggling with that and asking God questions. Then the next day, Tom Slaughter (AGAPE’s former Executive Director) spoke at our church. I sat there thinking, “This is funny. But, God, that’s not my answer. Somebody else has got to step up, not us. That’s for someone else.” That was a road sign saying this is where you’re going. And then I mentioned it to Kevin.

KEVIN: She mentioned fostering kind of out of the blue, my first thought was no. And then we got talking about it more. The one thing I love about my wife is when she throws something out like that, she’s really been thinking about it and praying about it. So, we met with Tom Slaughter and at that point, there were a lot more reasons for us to do it than not do it.

LISA: We really felt called to start fostering.

What was your approach to fostering?

KEVIN: Our feeling was, you’re part of our family. You’re a foster child but that’s the last time we’ll ever say that because that’s what you are on paper. You’re part of our family for as long as you’re here. If the child doesn’t feel like they’re part of your family, then I don’t think foster care is for you.

How did you handle a foster child leaving your care?

LISA: It hurts when they leave. But then you know that you’ve been an important part on their journey to where they need to be. I did a lot of praying when a child left. I think the worst time for me was when we got the word that they were going to be leaving soon. After they were gone, I seemed to always have a peace that God had his hand on that child, and they were going where they needed to be. And I had done what I had been called to do. But yes, you will get attached no matter what you do. If that’s a fear that you’re going to get too attached – that’s actually the goal! To become attached and have the child become attached to you.

KEVIN: That is one of the things that we would get a lot, “Well, I could never do that. I’d get too attached to them!” Well, that’s the goal and that’s what they need.

How did Ashland and Brandon like being part of a fostering family?

KEVIN: As Brandon and Ashland were getting older, and we were still fostering, they really enjoyed it. I remember we had this little baby and Jerry Sprague (who the kids still referred to as “Uncle Jerry”) was our case manager. He came to get the baby because the baby had been adopted. I could hear the kids crying as Lisa was taking them to school. They loved having the children in our home and never wanted us to stop fostering.

Do you have any advice for people considering fostering?

KEVIN: Talk to other folks that have done it and have them really be honest about what worked and what didn’t work. I think people need to know everything about it, not just the positive reviews. You also need to have boundaries around expectations and what you’re capable of.

Any final thoughts on your journey with AGAPE of NC?

KEVIN: My feeling for AGAPE is thank God it exists. There needs to be a place like that with the values that it has for families and kids. To me, it was just never an afterthought of just supporting it.