Jeanne Morrell, a Sister of St. Joseph and former school teacher, started foster care about 30 years ago. "There was a Mercy sister who was doing foster care and I would visit her now and again, and it was just enticing to me.", she says. Since then, she has fostered almost 80 children at her home in Pittsford, NY. She is currently the foster mother for two children, Z. (10) and K. (7), half sisters who were born with a genetic disorder, and the legal guardian of Keyajsha Singletary (7), who was born prematurely and suffers from cerebral palsy, seizure disorders and blindness. When Sister Jeanne began her foster home, Morning Star (named after the TV show "Morningstar/Eveningstar") she took in any child, but she has evolved to care for almost exclusively children with severe physical or developmental disabilities. "There aren't a lot of homes that take the real medically fragile... these children would be hard to place...There aren't a lot of homes that would want nurses in and out all the time. This just works for me, for us."

Sister Jeanne Morreall massages lotion on Keyajsha's ankles at Morning Star in Pittsford, NY, Nov. 27, 2017.

(left to right) Sister Jeanne, Griffin (2) (last name withheld) and Sister Anne watch as Keyajsha gets on the school bus for the first time since having her hip surgery 11 weeks ago on Dec. 4, 2017. Griffin, a nephew of one of the other sisters, comes to Morning Star Monday through Friday for daycare, and Sister Anne comes to help Monday through Wednesday and Friday.

Sister Jeanne speaks with one of the other sisters while caring for Keyajsha on Dec. 12, 2017. Sister Jeanne's day begins at 6am when her night shift nurses leave. The nurses are there to help give medications, move the girls in and out the bed, and watch after them as they receive suctioning treatments for Z. and K.'s tracheal tubes. As she begins preparing Keyajsha and Z. for school, Sister Anne arrives at 7 and Griffin arrives at 7:30. "Everyday is different, I might go to doctor's appointments, you have to go to court sometimes, you have to meet with case workers, seems like I always have a slew of phone calls to make about, like, ordering supplies, or getting a wheelchair fixed..."

Sister Anne and Griffin play in the kitchen while Sister Jeanne writes appointment times on her calendar. Keyajsha, Z. and K. all see doctors frequently to treat their various needs, including pulmonary and orthopedic specialists, gastroenterologists and ophthalmologists.

Sister Jeanne holds Keyajsha's face as they find out she will be able to remove her hip brace on Dec. 1, 2017. Keyajsha had encountered some minor abrasions from the brace on her inner thighs. Since having it removed, Sister Jeanne thinks she has been recovering well. "She will be moving her normal in a couple weeks."

Sister Jeanne (right) gives Keyajsha medicine through her feeding tube while Sister Anne and Griffin (left) clean the neighboring room on Nov. 27, 2017. Sister Anne used to work at Daystar, a pediatric day program ran by Sisters of St. Joseph, before coming to help Sister Jeanne four years ago when they moved Morning Star into their new house in Pittsford.

Sister Jeanne holds hands with Keyajsha as she receives a saline nebulizer treatment to loosen her congested airways on Dec. 12, 2017. Keyajsha has been noticeably more nervous since the removal of her hip brace. Sister Jeanne cannot know for sure if Keyajsha is simply scared of moving her legs or in actual pain because Keyajsha is non-verbal.

Sister Jeanne plays a puzzle game on her tablet and watches the news as she gently rocks Keyajsha in her wheelchair on Nov. 28, 2017. Sister Jeanne hopes to continue her work as a foster mother as long as she is healthy and moving. "I don't see any end in the near future."

Back to Top