Hearts of Yolo: Joy and John Schutzman

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

For six years, two of which involved fertility treatments, Joy Schutzman and her husband, John, tried without success to conceive children. Then, their lives took a turn they never could have predicted. “A close friend of mine called me to ask if I wanted to attend a foster care awareness event. I immediately called my husband who also thought it was a good idea. We just went in full boar from there.”

Nearly five years later, Joy and her husband have cared for sixteen children. “We’ve cared for children from newborns to nearly eighteen years old and they have all been a gift to our family.”

Joy remembers the unique story of her first foster assignment. “When they walked Noah in the door, they said he was eligible for adoption. We couldn’t believe it because we were very interested in adopting.”

At first, the relationship with Noah’s father, Randall, was slow going but he made a commitment to stay in Noah’s life. Then after some time, Randall made significant changes in his life. A heavy methamphetamine user, he decided to turn his life over to God and change. “We worked closely with Randall, Noah’s CASA volunteer, and Noah and we saw the situation turn around. Randall truly won us over and six months later, the family was reunited.”

Despite the disappointment of not being able to adopt, Joy and John Schutzman continued with their calling to be foster parents and asked if they could remain in Noah’s life. Joy states, “It has turned out to be so beautiful and unexpected. Our families are great friends and Noah’s 18-year-old sister sometimes babysits for us. Randall and his family even spend time with us during the holidays and he says I am a mother figure to his kids. I’ve learned that families are made of many different and beautiful combinations.”

Speaking of combinations, the Schutzmans traditionally took children of all ages except babies. Joy states, “I have Multiple Sclerosis and back problems so babies were tough for me with all the lifting. However I recently had spinal surgery which vastly improved my situation.”

And the surgery was just in time. “We recently got a call about a baby born at 31 weeks gestation who was in the NICU. We prayed about it and decided to take her in. She was in the NICU for six weeks but is now five months old and thriving. We feel so blessed to have her in our lives.”

As for the future, Joy sees her calling with foster children expanding. “If at some point I do not continue being a foster parent, I would love to be a CASA. It is such a vital relationship and CASAs show foster children that adults are good and safe. I’ve worked with several CASA volunteers and they make great changes in children’s lives alongside the foster parents and everyone else in the child’s life.”

Speaking of changes in a child’s life, Joy and John like to give their foster children experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have. “John just got back from taking our two older foster children camping while I stayed with the baby. We also like to take the kids to the beach, the snow or the San Francisco Zoo… places they probably haven’t seen. I am a photographer so I send each child I take care of with a photo book before they leave my care. One child called me years later and told me it is her most prized possession and some of the only photos of herself as a child that she owns.”

As Joy reflects on her experience, she marvels at the children. “These kids have been through so much and I see them overcome and build resilience every day. You can’t meet a foster child and not feel called to help.”

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