Derek and Renee Boucher’s love story began on the Green at Fresno Pacific University.
It was the spring of 1989 and Derek was just four weeks away from graduation. They might have never met except that Renee, then a freshman, noticed the good-looking senior playing Wiffle ball. He remembers thinking that she was spunky, fun and beautiful.
After being introduced by friends, the couple dated and married in August 1990. Today, more than three decades later, the Bouchers are parents and foster parents committed to family and service.
The alumni couple has a blended family of three biological children and three adopted children ranging in age from 6 to 24. The Bouchers continue to foster children in need and remain open to adoption, with Renee saying she may never know if their family is complete.
“We have such a heart for foster and adoption,” she says.
The Bouchers’ love, and dedication to others, is forever entwined with Fresno Pacific. Both entered helping fields – Derek is in his 27th year of teaching and Renee graduated with a degree in social work – and share similar churchgoing, middle-class backgrounds along with a passion for social justice.
Originally, Derek thought he would become a pastor but instead decided on a career in teaching. He graduated from Fresno Pacific with a major in social science and in biblical and religious studies, and then returned to earn a teaching credential in 1994 and a master’s in reading and language arts in 2001.
Both Renee, originally from Selma, and Derek, from the Turlock area, say the university helped shape them into the people they are today. Influences range from professors and fellow students to classes and experiences.
“My education at Fresno Pacific pushed me to be so much more of a critical thinker,” Derek says. “It helped me see that the Jesus mission was to inaugurate the rule of God on Earth, and that’s about redemption.”
Learning about social justice, and the role of Christians in the world, made an indelible impression on Renee. God’s command to care for widows and orphans “always had a big impact on me,” she says. “I kind of always knew deep down that at some point, we would adopt.”
That point came after the couple had three children but struggled to have a fourth. Renee began to explore the idea of adoption, but Derek was lukewarm.
She continued to talk and pray about it and one year, as her birthday gift, asked him to go to an orientation at an adoption agency. Derek agreed but still wasn’t persuaded. After another birthday, and another orientation, he was ready to move forward.
“Renee was patient and very good at sharing her passion and so I just came along – slower than her, which I freely admit,” he says. “She’s been an amazing leader in all of this.”
“He is just as passionate now,” Renee said.
The couple took their first foster placement – a set of siblings – in 2010. Though they hoped to adopt, the children were reunified with their family, which was a devastating emotional blow for the Bouchers.
But the couple knew there was a child out there for them and in 2012, they matched with Isaiah. Two years later, the couple took in Zachariah and in 2015, his baby sister, Kyla, also joined the family. From youngest to oldest, their children are Kyla, Zachariah, Isaiah, Bella, Joshua and Tatiana.
The couple most recently fostered a little girl for 15 months during the pandemic; they remain in touch with her and her biological family.
Faith, and their Fresno Pacific education, helped prepare the Bouchers for the challenges of fostering and adoption. “I really try not to paint a vision through rose-colored glasses of what that looks like,” Renee said. While it is rewarding, “there are daily challenges that come with all of that … It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.”
Derek also takes on challenges as a teacher at Roosevelt High School, which sits in a high-poverty area of Fresno. “School is a struggle for many students,” he said, “and not just having skills but motivation and desire, and seeing the relevancy. I feel I am needed there.”
Fresno Pacific “really helped me become a much better teacher,” Derek said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without having gone through the credential program. The master’s program helped me to reach even higher and make my classroom a better place for students.”
This year, the Bouchers celebrate their 32nd anniversary and the love story that began at Fresno Pacific. Back then, Derek said, “I thought she was just the prettiest girl I’d ever seen – and I tell her that today.”
Do you have an FPU love story? Did you meet your spouse/fiancée at FPU? Post your photo on the FPU Alumni Facebook page and be entered into a contest to win alumni t-shirts and a gift certificate to DoorDash!
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