During a late-summer high school event, Trinity Academy boys basketball coach and athletic director Steve Miller stood off to the side smiling, bouncing a sleeping baby in his arms.
You could see his contentment and know exactly what his wife, Kathy, means when she calls him “a baby guy.”
The Millers have no more babies of their own at home. Shiloh, their youngest of five children, is a junior guard on Trinity’s girls team and the only one still living at home.
But the Millers have taken in about 10 foster babies in the past four years.
“Bottom line, we feel called by the Lord to take care of the little ones who really can’t take care of themselves,” Steve said.
The phone call could come at anytime, with the person on the line asking, “can you take a baby?” The Millers are always ready to open their home to foster babies for one night or for months.
It isn’t always easy. There are long nights, long days.
“You sacrifice your time, your money, your energy,” Steve said. “You get up some mornings coming to school thinking, ‘I was up three hours with the little one, now why do I do this?’
“And you remember, you were called by the Lord to help out.”
The Millers aren’t looking for accolades. Far from it.
It’s just that they love babies.
“We have a heart for infants,” Kathy said. “Steve’s a hands-on baby guy. He and his dad both. He and his dad are known as baby hogs.”
Steve, who is in his fifth year coaching the Knights, and his family started taking in foster children while he coached basketball in Arkansas, where he won three state titles.
After a little more than a year in Wichita, they became certified to have foster children in Kansas.
The decision to open their home wasn’t made lightly, especially with five children of their own.
“It’s something you need the whole family to buy into,” Kathy said. “It sure makes it a whole lot easier. Every time we get a phone call, it’s ‘take them, mom, take them!’ ”
The Millers have four sons — Levi, Clark, Seth and Carson, who are ages 20-26 — and they will gladly give a bottle to the baby or help around the house, too.
Shiloh has been nicknamed the “baby whisperer” at school because of her affinity for babies and her ability to quiet the young children of Trinity coaches.
“I love having kids all the time in our house and getting to love on them,” Shiloh said. “I think it’s the best thing ever. I think it’s just like getting to have new little siblings in the house, being there and helping them out.
“I don’t have any specific duties. I kind of help out when I can. There was one night I was up at 3 in the morning. It’s whatever they need.”
Kathy laughingly said she’s pretty sure Shiloh is missing having a foster child right now because she’s the only child at home at the moment.
Steve and Kathy share the nighttime duties with the infants. They had a baby during the summer who needed to be fed every three hours.
When he needed a bottle, Steve got up to warm the milk, while Kathy changed the diaper. They’d then trade off on who did the feeding.
While Steve is usually busy as an athletic director, attending all of the Knights’ events, it’s especially busy during basketball season when he’s coaching and Shiloh’s playing.
But it actually becomes easier on Kathy at that time because she knows she can bring the foster baby to a game and other Trinity fans are eager to hold the babies or play with them, thus giving Kathy a needed break.
The Millers’ goal is to provide a strong foundation for each foster child, regardless of how long they are together. And each child has become a member of the family.
One of the first foster children the Millers took in while in Arkansas became such a part of the family that the Millers asked to adop her. She’s still with her mom, but was a flower girl in one of their son’s wedding.
Many of the back stories of the foster children are heart-wrenching, including one infant who had been shaken and required multiple therapies every day.
As joyous as it is to shower these babies with love, the worst part is saying goodbye.
“I think this has taught me how to love people,” Shiloh said. “Even though these kids probably won’t ever remember us. It doesn’t matter. You love them when you can. You take advantage of it and don’t waste that.
“… They now have a prayer, have a little seed and someone is always going to be praying for them.”