Janeille Bennett. (The Enterprise/Joe Siess)
VALE – Janeille Bennett is a familiar face around Vale.
She serves on the Vale City Council and is an advocate for foster children.
About three months ago, she adopted Chip, a child she and her husband had been fostering since he was an infant.
When Bennett, the president of the Malheur County Foster and Adoptive Parents Association, and her husband, Eric, brought him home at 2 weeks old, Chip was recovering from eight broken bones, and suffered from shaken baby syndrome.
Last fall, the Bennetts adopted Chip, who now goes by Chase James Bennett, or CJ.
About 16 years ago, Bennett and her husband, who is the president of the Vale Food Pantry, began fostering children when they lived in Orlando, Florida.
Bennett said her and her husband are both passionate about fostering.
“He is such a big support. I probably wouldn’t continue foster care if it wasn’t for my husband,” Bennett said. “He has a gift for caring and loving little ones. He’s my big support.”
In fact, one of the things that brought the couple together besides scuba diving was their shared desire to foster and adopt children.
“The truth is, I would have adopted all of the foster kids that came through our home,” Bennett said. However, CJ was “literally the only one that came available.”
While in Orlando, she and her husband raised their two kids, McKay and Noah. Her husband was working as a contractor at the time, and she noticed a need for foster parents.
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“What motivated me was the children, the children in Orlando, the need there,” she said.
Bennett said that while she was at her children’s school PTA meeting, she encountered several foster children, and realized that she could be a foster parent herself.
She grew up in Vale and always planned to return, which she did seven years ago and continued her efforts to care for foster children.
When her husband retired from the military, the couple decided to relocate with their two children to Vale.
“He always promised he’d bring me back here when he retired,” Bennett said of her husband.
They have been in Vale for nine years. In that time, she estimates her family has cared for 11 foster children.
Bennett does more than help foster children. She serves on the Vale City Council and is on the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
“We always thought it would be so much fun to move back to a small town and to be a part of a community and to help, and then we had the time which is totally cool,” Bennett said.
“I think it’s a good thing to move and experience life. Go to college, come back and serve your community,” Bennett said.
“Our goal was to move back here and just enjoy life and help in any way we could.”
Bennett said that she hopes to one day work to improve state laws to make them more favorable to children.
Bennett said that current laws lean heavily in favor of birth parents and often fail to consider the needs of the children who find their way into the system.
“I feel like they protect the birth parents more than they take heed of the foster children themselves,” she said.
Despite this, Bennett has persisted in her desire to serve foster children, and her success adopting CJ is testament to her passion.
“He is so stinkin’ cute,” Bennett said.
News tip? Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.
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