Skip to main content

Episode 99: The Battle for Control in Foster Care: A Life Surrendered to God

By July 13, 2020January 3rd, 2023The Forgotten Podcast

Since his very first memory, life for my guest, Gaelin Elmore, has been about the struggle for control. He couldn’t control his parents’ addictions. He couldn’t control whether he went into foster care. He couldn’t control where and with whom he was placed. He couldn’t control what happened inside the home. He could only control his own behaviors, so that’s what he held onto tightly. It was a way to cope, to temporarily ease the pain. What Gaelin didn’t anticipate was that there were people, and far greater, a God who was worthy of his trust. He didn’t have to be the one to muster up the strength on his own, but God in his kindness was there, holding him through all the hard. His trauma displays itself in relationships with people still, but Gaelin is not without hope, and he’s running hard after the one who was in control the whole time.


1. The desire for control can show itself in unresponsiveness.

Waking up in a group home at age three, Gaelin knew that his life was being radically altered. He understood something was happening, but not why. He struggled to grasp onto any sort of control he could have, deciding that he would never be caught having fun while he wasn’t with his biological family. He wouldn’t talk to his caseworker. He wouldn’t interact with the families he was placed with; he didn’t want to be there. After more than ten moves, he was placed with one of his sisters. Though the quality of his homes from this point on was poor, he cared more about staying connected to his sisters and being in this together.

“I made the decision that I wasn’t going to allow my social workers to ever assume or misconstrue the idea that I was enjoying myself [in foster care], so out of stubbornness and need to be with my parents, I made the decision that I’m not going to be playful, joke, or laugh.”

2. God’s love is way beyond our control.

As much as Gaelin wanted to control everything in his life and manage his own story, he couldn’t. He questioned, “Why me? Why is this my story?” His need for control and grip on it didn’t allow for freedom even at its greatest moment. Control had become his mode of survival. Yet, God gave Gaelin hope throughout his life in a way that was beyond comprehension and certainly beyond what Gaelin could have done on his own. Looking at his life, Gaelin has reason to be angry with his circumstances, but instead, he is simply thankful that God brought him through it. He sees God as kind, leading him to repentance.

“People would ask, ‘How did you do it? How did you end up the way you did?’ and I have no answer other than God. It’s way beyond my control. It’s supernatural.”

3. We can build trust by creating space for biological parents.

Gaelin was never looking for replacement parents in the adults who cared for him. When he was told of his father’s arrest and offered a place to stay by his coach, he agreed. They knew little of each other’s lives beyond their relationship as coach and player. That’s how Gaelin wanted it. He had learned how to avoid talking about his early years in foster care. He stayed with his coach because it prevented his greatest fear, going back into foster care. He built a wall, not one that was outwardly rebellious but one that allowed him to engage rarely. A late-night conversation cracked that wall. “I’m not trying to replace your dad.” His coach was kind; their family treated him as their child, yet, they didn’t make him be their child. He was able to breathe, able to trust for the first time with those simple words. They became part of his family—not legally, but because they were willing to sacrifice for him, and didn’t try to force their way in.

“I’m not trying to replace your dad. I don’t need to be your dad. I’m just here to give you a break that you haven’t gotten.”


Connect with Gaelin:


We hope this episode has helped you wherever you are on your foster care journey. That’s the goal! If so, will you tell others?

Share this post or rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts (or wherever you listen) and leave us a brief review

Meet Our Guest

Gaelin Elmore is married to Micaela and dad to Laniah. He is a believer, leader, speaker, and writer at Enduring a childhood of homelessness, foster care, family struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, abuse, poverty, and every form of instability, Gaelin learned the compounding and transformative power of overcoming life’s obstacles very early. Gaelin played football at the University of Minnesota, signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, and now works with teenagers from diverse communities and difficult backgrounds, helping them overcome their adversity to obtain a life of hope.

Foster Parents, check with your agency to see if listening to this podcast will count toward your foster care training hours!

Special thanks to Resonate Recordings for their knock-it-out-of-the-park podcast production services! If you have a podcast or want to start one, reach out to our friends at Resonate!

Get encouragement and updates in your inbox.

Be the first to know about new episodes, posts, resources, and stay in the loop about what’s coming up.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Other Episodes You Might Enjoy:

Episode 207: A Journey From Addiction to Advocacy (w/ Jody Golston)

| The Forgotten Podcast | No Comments
Jody Golston's story is one of recovery, restoration, and healing after the hardest days of her life.

Episode 53: The Search for Identity Leads to Foster Care Ministry

| The Forgotten Podcast | No Comments
Holly Miller was born into foster care and was adopted at the age of seven by the family with whom she had been in a long-term placement. The adoption conversation was always open, but she…

Episode 163: The Beauty of Entering the Mess (w/ Cynthia Yanof)

| The Forgotten Podcast | No Comments
When Cynthia and her husband felt the call to step into foster care, they had fears, the urge to cling to safety, and the feeling of being completely ill-equipped. Can you relate!? In spite of…