VAN WERT – At a time in their lives when a lot of other couples may be looking forward to their retirement, Christine and Jeff Whitsett have opened their home and their hearts to children in need of loving, caring and safe places to live.

Working with Adriel Foster Care, Family Preservation and Training Institute, the Whitsetts have shared their lives over the past few years fostering and also adopting children. In fact, they adopted three children from one placement.

For years the Whitsetts believed they have been called by God to help children in need. Prior to working with Adriel, they had a non-related kinship foster placement in their home. When they decided to take the steps toward adoption of this foster youth, Chris and Jeff worked with Adriel to get certified to adopt.

“This is the way God wanted us to do this,” said Chris Whitsett. “Our youngest biological child had just graduated college and we were starting a whole new family.”

Exchanging the ease of retirement for changing diapers, Chris and her husband chose to follow their calling to help children in need.

“At this age, we have so much to offer. We have greater patience, wisdom and are more financially stable than when we started our family years ago,” said Chris.

And with choosing to go the adoption path and foster more children, the Whitsetts also needed to expand their knowledge of how to best help these youth and provide a more stable home environment, especially for those youngsters who have come from difficult circumstances.

As part of the process to be licensed to foster and adopt, the Whitsetts were trained and certified in the Teaching Family Model, an evidence-based practice model that reinforces positive behavior and diminishes negative behavior.

Adriel is an accredited agency of the Teaching Family Association and provides training in the Teaching Family Model to all of its foster families.

The Teaching Family Model provides a practical, teachable, structure to working with youth, families, consumers, and employees. Initially developed around working with socially troubled youth, it has evolved and is vastly adaptable in all situations to teach effective communication.

“Using the Teaching Family Model helps children coming from a variety of situations successfully adapt to their new foster care environment,” said Todd Hanes, Adriel President and CEO. “The model is a practical, teachable, humane and structured approach that empowers parents and youth to develop skills and give feedback in a positive and constructive way.”

In order to be certified in Teaching Family Model, the Whitsetts received 60 hours of classes geared toward the Teaching Family Model, including written and oral tests, as well as roleplay activities to get a more thorough idea of how to use the approach practically. Certification also includes interviews with therapists involved in each case and the biological family members if available.

“Certification took several months, but once we started applying it, it really worked,” said Jeff Whitsett.

“It ties everything together in a very universal way for helping children make better choices,” added Chris. “We have learned skills that have worked with our grandchildren.”

In 2017, Adriel served nearly 400 children in 157 licensed Foster Care homes, and served 156 families through its Family Preservation Program.

The Teaching Family Model is focused on helping youth recognize the need to adapt and change, and to correct behavior in ways that provide learning opportunities, as opposed to using punishment or negative consequences. This kind of cognitive behavioral change enables youth to develop habits that are positively influenced and effective.

To learn more about the Teaching Family Model, visit the Teaching Family Association website at

About Adriel Foster Care, Family Preservation and Training Institute

Providing quality care for children in the spirit of Christian love Adriel has a long and rich history of caring for children in need. Founded as the Mennonite Children’s home in 1896, Adriel’s mission has always focused on serving those children who either have no family or whose family environment is not safe or healthy.

As the needs of children and families have changed, Adriel has adapted and expanded its services to meet them. Today, Adriel provides foster care and adoption, training, clinical, and family preservation services to children and families in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health to provide counseling services, Adriel is also accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), an achievement that indicates adherence to “best practice” standards of care. Adriel is a member of the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies.

To learn more about Adriel, visit and our Facebook page at