Lehigh Acres couple recognized for fostering over 50 kids with medical needs

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. – Over the last 20 years, Lehigh Acres couple Teresa and Dan Johnson have fostered more than 50 kids and adopted four.

“You give up a lot of time, this is your life,” Teresa said.

To open your heart and home is special to begin with, but every child the Johnsons have taken care of, whether it’s forever or just a while, has medical needs — some even required care around the clock.

“People always want to know ‘how do we do our daily thing with two children in wheelchairs, three or four children that are being tube fed?'” Dan said. “Both of our sons are tube-fed.”

For the Johnsons, it’s just what they do. They’ve dedicated their lives to their kids and they said it’s so rewarding.

“The children keep me going. There’s just nothing more rewarding than to see a child thrive,” Dan said.

The Johnsons have two biological sons who serve as a major support system.

Two of their adopted sons are victims of Shaken Babies Syndrome. They both require 24-hour care. They can’t walk, talk or see, but the Johnsons are devoted to loving and nurturing them just like they would with any other child.

“The smiles on their faces, the laughs. When you speak to a child and you walk into a room and you holler ‘hey Jay!’ across the room and he starts giggling, there is no better feeling than to have that interaction with these children,” Dan said.

Dan and Teresa are also forever parents to a 13-year-old boy who was born 23-weeks premature. They’ve been taking care of him since he was four months old.

“He weighed five pounds when he came to us and he’s doing phenomenal,” they said.

The Johnsons’ first adopted child, Abigail, is getting ready to go to college.

“I’m getting ready to go to FMTC to become an auto mechanic and to move on,” Abigail said.

She’s overcome many obstacles, including an auditory processing disorder. Her message to others facing similar challenges is simple.

“Don’t give up. Just keep pushing through,” Abigail said.

Dan and Teresa have dedicated their lives to their kids, but the biggest thing the kids needed was a chance.

“There is a tremendous need,” Dan said.

His wife agrees.

“We have very few medically needy homes, and we are definitely in need of families who are able to house the medically fragile children,” Teresa said.

The Johnsons never asked for recognition, but this week they got it.

On Tuesday, they were honored by the Tampa-based nonprofit All Pro Dad at their annual Hall of Fame Event. It went mostly virtual this year, but still recognized adoptive families.

“We were a bit taken aback when they called us and they nominated us, and to find out that we were picked, there were tears,” Dan said.

But the greatest honor comes in seeing their kids grow.

“It’s not every day you hear you’re doing a good job, but you can see what your job is doing in the lives of the children. You can see how much they have progressed,” Dan said.

To learn more about fostering or adopting children or donating to help out, visit the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida’s website.

For more information on All Pro Dad and other programs under Family First click here.