A Little Taste of Eternity: What it’s like to be Houseparents at Cookson Hills

My name is Jorge. My wife and I have been houseparents at Cookson Hills since 2018, but God had been preparing my heart long before we arrived.  

Jorge’s Story

I had a good early childhood. I thought we had a strong family, but in my adolescent years, things started crumbling. My dad left and abandoned my mom, brothers, sister, and me when I was 12. There were some hard years. I went through my teen years looking at coaches and church members to fill the father void I had in my life. I carried a lot of insecurities and, obviously, the pain of abandonment and rejection from my dad. 

When I was 23, I got to live with my uncle Jaime for a year. For the first time, I saw a man of God. A man who wanted to please God with his life. He honored God as a husband who was faithful to his wife and treated her with respect and kindness. My uncle showed me how to be a good father and how to be present with his kids. All I could think was, “I want that.”

I understand the kids who come here that did not have a father or don’t know what a father should look like or what a healthy marriage could look like. That’s why I’m here.

Jorge, with a couple of his kids, showing their strength and resilience during the pandemic.

God equipped me and is using my past to be able to serve others. God has also blessed me with a fantastic wife who has had a passion for orphans and the fatherless since she was a little girl. Together, we are serving the Lord. 

Our Road To Cookson Hills 

God called us to love on kids. We were foster parents for seven years before coming here. Our friend  kept telling us, “I think you and your wife need to go to Cookson.” For two years, I said, “No, I don’t think so; I can take care of kids on my own.” But as time passed, my prayers began shifting, and we realized that we could serve more effectively in the community of Cookson Hills. It took us two years to surrender and finally be a part of this team. Working as a houseparent is not easy, but it is worth it. It’s worth it to live life with these kids and see some life changes happen. 

What is a Houseparent? 

My name is Amanda, and I am the wife of Jorge and housemom to many! A houseparent is there for their kids, no matter what that need is. Every child that comes to Cookson Hills is unique and special, and they are an individual. So as Houseparents, you get to observe your child, see who God has made them to be, and then connect with them one on one in their uniqueness. 

christmas, baking, family
Baking treats together for Christmas

We live life together. From waking up in the morning, getting ready for school, making meals, and playing…we are a family. We get to help kids experience what it’s like to have a mom and a dad, feel loved, and belong.

“Wait, so this is a family?!”

Family here at Cookson is very different for many kids because it’s unusual to them. To see a dad and a mom who love each other and make mistakes but offer forgiveness and growth-  this is new! Kids arrive, and their picture of “family” is all they know. Sometimes, that picture is broken and dysfunctional, but it’s all they know. It takes kids time to adjust to this new picture of a family. 

Many kids that have come through our home will say, “Wait, so this is what a family looks like?” or “This is something a loving family does?” It just touches your heart and breaks it when a child asks that. We have the opportunity to pour into a child’s life so that, hopefully, they’ll take these 

experiences to heart, and one day, when they meet their future spouse, they can apply those things to their own family. 

Our Hope for Our Kids 

We love these kids. Every child that comes into our home, I get attached easily. So they become our kids for a season; sometimes, it’s short, sometimes lifelong. 

Basketball, senior, family
The Zam Fam seniors are recognized at their final home game, and the whole family celebrates with them

Our number one hope is that each of these kids gets to connect with God because that will be the beginning of healing. We desire for them to develop a relationship with God and trust in him. Secondly, we want them to heal and understand their wounds. We want them to be able to open those wounds to the right people, like their counselors, so that they can truly heal. We also hope that once they’ve lived here, they have a true sense of family and their role in their future family.

God never wastes a hurt. So we pray that they will be able to work through their pain, pass knowledge on to other people in the future, and say, “You know what? I’ve been there. I know what you’re going through. This is what helped me….” 

To be a Houseparent at Cookson Hills means you get to walk hand in hand with a child and witness little nuggets of growth. It’s a little taste of eternity. This is something much bigger than us. We are walking with the next generation, and hopefully, they will take that wisdom, knowledge, and love to the nations.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Jorge and Amanda Zamarrón have been houseparents at Cookson Hills since 2018. They were foster parents for seven years before coming to Cookson Hills.