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Turning Houses into Homes: How PJ & Thomas Built Their Foster Family of Five

Turning Houses into Homes: How PJ & Thomas Built Their Foster Family of Five Turning Houses into Homes: How PJ & Thomas Built Their Foster Family of Five

In honor of National Foster Care Month, we sat down with the charismatic Timothy Paul Jasper "PJ" McKay & Thomas McKay, famously known as The Property Lovers! Beyond their acclaim in home renovation and design, PJ & Thomas have embarked on a journey as foster and adoptive parents.

In this exclusive Q&A, we explore the experiences and insights they've gained through their experience building their beautiful and unique family. From the initial decision to foster, to the transition into adoption, PJ & Thomas share their heartfelt stories, challenges and the indelible impact of forming a family through foster care.

Join us as we uncover lessons of love from two immensely inspiring individuals who have opened their hearts and home to change lives—and, in exchange, have found their own lives transformed.

Little Sleepies: When was the moment you both decided fostering was the right path for your family?

PJ & Thomas: We went back and forth for years about which route to take, and considered everything: surrogacy, private adoption, etc, and even got accepted into a few of those programs. But something kept pulling us back to foster care every time. We talked to a couple of friends who had done foster care and they filled us in about all of the ups and downs that come with being a foster parent, and even then, we still kept coming back to it.

And then it started feeling like everywhere we turned, there were reminders of it, like the movie Instant Family that had just come out (highly recommend watching it!) about a married couple who flips houses fostering three kids, and then the show The Fosters was on Netflix so we were binging that. There were signs, it seemed, and we finally made up our minds to start the foster classes to get our licenses.


Can you share a little bit about how the process works?

We signed up for local classes that fit our schedule (they typically offer a bunch of different class locations and we chose the one that was closest to us) and took them with a longtime friend. There’s a common misconception that only certain types of people can be foster parents or a fear that they might not accept everyone, but at the end of the day, all the agencies usually care about is if the child will be in a safe, loving home.

We did specify the age range, and I believe we said 5 and under are the ages we felt most comfortable with starting out. The process took about two months from beginning to end of our classes. The crazy part was, our home wasn't even officially open yet when we got the call about our three children. They had done our home study, but it hadn’t been signed off yet, but our kids needed a home ASAP, so they rushed to approve us and we took our kids home two days later.

As a same-sex couple, did you notice any ways in which this aspect of your identity influenced your fostering journey?

We thought we might be discriminated against by at least someone along the way, but thankfully, everyone was very supportive. Again, they really just want the kids to go to a good home, which they saw we could provide.

If anything, we wanted and were willing to work even harder for our children because we had talked about starting a family for so long and we knew we wanted kids within the first few months of dating. Luckily, though, everyone involved in the whole process was just happy to see our kids removed from their previous situation (which was very rough) and placed in a good home.


Fostering and adopting are both profound ways to form a family, yet they come with different challenges and commitments. Could you share how you navigated the transition from fostering to adopting your three children?

Our situation was somewhat unique, in that not even a year after our kids came to us, the world shut down because of the pandemic, so suddenly all five of us were home all the time spending every second together. Needless to say, we all began to feel like a family pretty quickly from spending all that time together, and we couldn’t imagine our life without them at that point.

So by the time we adopted them two and a half years later, we had already felt like a family for so long that it really was just a formality at that point, and the legality of it made it all the more sweet, because we already knew how we felt. Nothing really changed after the adoption except behind the scenes stuff, like last names and other documents. The feelings were already there.


Throughout your foster care journey, what has been the most rewarding lesson about family and love that you’ve learned?

That you don’t have to be related by DNA to love someone and feel like a family. And actually, when we first started fostering our children, we initially thought we had made a mistake because we went from zero kids to three, and suddenly overnight our lives were SO different and hard and challenging. We questioned if we could do this and if we had what it took to be good parents to these precious kids who obviously needed us.

You’ve been vocal about advocating for foster care. What's one piece of advice you’d give to other couples considering this path?

Every foster care journey is different, and you rarely hear of two that are the same. There will always be bumps in the road, and the ups and downs that come with it can sometimes make you question why you got into it in the first place. But seeing children thrive in your care and seeing the lightbulb go off in their head when they learn something new, and seeing them in a safe, loving home, makes all of those other worries kind of fade away.

At the end of the day, nothing matters but the well-being of the children, no matter how long they're in your care.


How do you balance the demands of your professional lives with the responsibilities of raising three children?

This was definitely an adjustment in the beginning! Especially because our kids were home all the time, and we work from home, so carving out time to get work done was very tricky. Everything changed when all three of them started going to school, which really freed up those coveted hours between 8am and 3pm and allowed us to dive back into working in a way that we just weren't able to for years. We try to get all of our work completed before they get home from school, but sometimes it does spill over.

We do our best to stop working after 5pm and then sometimes pick the laptop up again after they go to bed. We don’t believe in trying to achieve “balance” in life because, if we do, I feel we will continually be let down, as I don’t know if balance in any aspect of life is really possible, and it’s taken us until 33 and 37 years old to realize and accept that.

With three kids in the house, what’s your favorite way to spend a family day when everyone is home?

If it’s an especially pretty day, we love driving out to our farm and everyone running wild through the fields and climbing trees. Our kids have the space and the freedom to do whatever they want out there, and they’ll often disappear for hours playing tag, going on adventures, or playing with the animals. Our whole farm is fenced in, so it feels safe and much more open than our house in town that has a little yard and is close to the road.


If you could choose one family activity to win an Olympic gold medal in, what would it be and why?

Uno! Over Christmas break, our family really got into the card game and played it every night. Now, we try to squeeze in at least one game after dinner each night. Our daughter, 6, is the best in the family and is absolutely ruthless. She will throw down a Draw Four card or a Skip card like nobody's business. None of us know how she always ends up with the best cards, but she does.


Being experts in home restoration, have your children shown any interest in your projects? Do they get involved in any of the fun?

They have! From a very young age, Allan, our oldest, has always come up with (the craziest and funniest) ideas for individual rooms like, maybe we’ll put a couch over there (on top of the washer and dryer) and maybe this could be our bedroom (the living room).

When we really noticed we had rubbed off on them was when we were all taking a walk around the neighborhood and our youngest son, Riah, kept pointing to the houses and saying “Cute, cute, ugly, cute.”

It was hilarious and we had to remind him that you shouldn’t call someone’s house ugly, especially when they’re sitting on their front porch.

In our conversation with PJ & Thomas, it's evident that fostering has enriched their lives in unimaginable ways. They’ve shared invaluable insights on navigating these paths, emphasizing the importance of patience, openness and unconditional love!

We’re so grateful for their candor and invaluable contributions to raising awareness about foster care!

For more PJ & Thomas, check out their blog or give them a follow on Instagram!

For those inspired by their story, consider exploring how you, too, can make a profound impact on a child’s life through fostering or supporting foster care initiatives. There’s a whole world of potential to unlock in every act of kindness — a family waiting to be formed, and a heart waiting to be loved!


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