JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - It's often said a noisy home is a happy home. For the McDonald family, their house is always full of laughter and love, all thanks to a decision they made a few years ago.
"We never considered foster care, until John was sitting in our deer blind one day and God said that's what we're going to do," explained former foster parent Toni McDonald.
"You know, God spoke to me pretty clearly and said that's what we needed to do," said former foster parent John McDonald.
After contacting Buckner Children and Family Service and learning more about the foster care system, their need to be foster parents grew deeper.
"It just broke our hearts," John said.
"We started out with a desire to adopt, but as we went through talking with Buckner and taking courses to get certified, it became more about helping kids," Toni explained.
According to Child Protective Services, the number of children in Texas being added to the foster care system has increased.
"There's so many kids that are having to spend nights in CPS offices because there's just no where for them to go." Toni said.
The McDonalds fostered for about four years, taking care of a total of seven children, which they said was often times challenging.
"I think the hardest part for me was realizing that they did have some other issues that we were going to work with them on," Toni said. "We learned these children come from all sorts of situations."
However, they found it to be overall a rewarding experience, as the McDonalds have adopted three of their former foster children.
"They know that we're their family and that we're there for them and that we love them," Toni said. "They know I may not have given birth to them, but I might as well have."
It's a mutual feeling shared by the whole family.
"My youngest daughter, who is 14-years-old, said that when she gets older, she wants to be a foster parent," John said.
With the growing need of foster homes, The McDonalds hope their experience can inspire others to help children in Deep East Texas.
"I think you have to be called to do it because it's not an easy task but it's very rewarding." John said.
Buckner International staff and foster families, including the McDonalds, will gather in Lufkin for a Prayer Walk, where they will pray for the needs of children in foster care and awaiting adoption. The walk takes place at 1 PM at Buckner Children Services, located on Daniel McCall Drive.