Steve and Lisa Lengel come from large families. Because of this experience, they both wanted a house full of kids. But after years of trying unsuccessfully to have children of their own, God showed them a new role: to be loving parents to children who need a good home. And in their role as foster parents, they have made a change for good in the lives of more than 300 children through the years.
Their first experience caring for a child in need was for a newborn baby whose parents didn’t feel that they could handle raising a child. Steve and Lisa cared for the baby until his mother decided she could handle motherhood and wanted him back. This experience confirmed for them that they were meant to be foster parents for children in need.
One of the first foster parents for White’s when the program began in the 80s, Lisa and Steve have served as White’s foster parents for 23 years. And over their 27 years as foster parents, the Lengels have had nearly 300 children in their home — and in their hearts.
Once established in the role God had for them as foster parents, He blessed them by answering their many prayers — they had their first child, Joshua, who is now 27 years old. The following year, Lisa gave birth to their daughter Maggie, and then another daughter, Katie. Having their own biological children did not impede their God-given desire to help children through foster care.
As foster parents, Lisa and Steve grew to love deeply several of the children in their care, seven of whom they adopted. Becoming part of the Lengel family, Jerry, Greg, Evette, Sheli, Amber, Brianna, and Ali found the love, acceptance and security that had been missing from their former lives. Even with many children to care for, the love of this incredible couple knows no bounds. They are in the final stages of adopting two little girls, Abby and Libby, who have been in their care. Soon the Lengel family will include twelve children aged 2 through 27, and they couldn’t be happier with their “house full.”
Despite having 11 children currently at home, the Lengels still welcome foster children. They currently provide a loving/nurturing home for two sibling groups, including a family of three children and another of two children.
Lisa and Steve have a special gift and desire to share their home with medically fragile and disabled children. Over the years, they have fostered children with physical and mental delays, missing limbs, feeding tubes, apnea monitors, and drug-addicted babies. Remodeling their home to accommodate children with special needs, Steve and Lisa have widened doorways and installed a ramp from the kitchen to the garage. They added on five bedrooms so they could open their home to as many children as possible.
During spring and summer, the family spends much of their time outdoors. Because the children love animals, they use their family pass to the Fort Wayne Zoo frequently, and they visit the Indianapolis Zoo for a special treat. They also enjoy the circus, parks and King’s Island.
Steve and Lisa have a supportive family. Three of their older daughters help with the smaller children. Steve’s parents are close by and lend a hand when needed. Support is also provided by White’s family specialists who have worked with them over the years.
The courage, enthusiasm and love of the Lengel family are an inspiration. They have made an astounding change for good in the lives of hundreds of children. When complimented on all they have done, Lisa credits God and the children, “It is the children who are special. They are blessings from God.” She can’t imagine life without her kids. She loves what White’s does for children in need and said, “I wish more people would give foster parenting a try.”