My husband and I both grew up in a foster care environment. My husband was a foster care child himself and found Jesus while living with a Christian foster family. I was on the other side of the equation, as my parents fostered kids for most of my childhood. In fact, my brother was from foster care before he was adopted into my family at the age of four. Although I found it difficult at times to be the biological kid in a foster home, sharing my parent’s attention with other kids, I could see that there was a huge need for foster care.
Before our foster care and adoption story began, we had three biological children. All three of my children were miracles. My first son was born premature, and I almost died in childbirth. At this point we decided we were probably not going to have another. Then 3 months later, I was pregnant again. My second pregnancy was also difficult. After my daughter was born, she had a brain bleed and seizures. My husband and I, again, decided we were not going to have any more kids. I had scheduled a surgery to prevent any further pregnancy and when I went in, they told me they couldn’t perform the surgery because I was pregnant again! We went from struggling with fertility to having three kids in three years. Clearly the Lord had other plans. When I was pregnant with my third child the doctors told me the pregnancy wasn’t viable and that we should abort. My son was born two months premature and perfect. He now works for Apple at 19 years old. He is brilliant.
At this point we were truly done having our own kids, but we didn’t feel like our family was complete. We thought maybe it was time we started thinking of other options. We heard about Hope and Home, our local foster agency. We got our license as foster parents and fostered another little girl first, then we got a sibling group of three. The sibling group was separated because of their severe special needs. We adopted the little boy who stayed with us from this group of siblings when he was almost three. We had our four kids, we were happy with them, and things were great. We decided to take a break from foster care, as we were moving out of the country to do more missions work.
Later, I was working as a children’s pastor and for Save the Storks. At an event for Save the Storks, I was working at a booth and spoke to a table of people who were advocating for adoption. I shared with someone that we had done foster care and they asked me if I would consider doing it again. This was the first time I had thought about it in a long time. Our kids were all raised, and it wasn’t in our plan to foster again. I felt the Lord was really pressing on my heart to do this again. I told my husband and asked him to pray about it. His initial reply was “I’ll pray about it, but the answer is no.” When I came back, as soon as I drove into the driveway, my husband came out and told me to call Hope and Home because we were supposed to start fostering again.
We went into it thinking we were going to foster only, not adopt.
We were 40 and settled, and we did not think we were going to adopt again. Then we got a call in the middle of the night about a little boy who had been born drug exposed. He was medically fragile and considered a failure to thrive. They knew we had medical experience and asked if we would be willing to take him. We had 11 specialists that we were seeing for him. He had a hole in his heart and his lung. He had tons of food allergies. We walked into a lot of hospital stays, medical appointments, and procedures. A year into having him in foster care, we got a call from his biological parents asking if we would be willing to adopt him if they relinquished their rights. We knew at this point that he was ours; we knew we were going to adopt him. Our son was in foster care for a total of 674 days.
Fostering must be a calling from God because it is something you cannot do in your own strength. You get attached to these kids, they become your heart, and then they have to leave. It’s good, and it’s the right thing for them to go back to the family. But when they leave, they always take a piece of your heart with them. Still, there are moments that make it all worth it. We had a pair of boys who lived with us, and then left to live with their uncle. Then, a few months later, their uncle could no longer take care of them, and they came back to our house. When they found out they were coming back they said “Yay, we get to go back to the Jesus house!” In the midst of the really hard moments, I always know that they are learning and hearing about God. It changes their life and the dynamic of their families. Those are the things that keep me going.
My husband and I have fostered for a total of six years. We have adopted two kids from foster care and plan to adopt four more this year. We have had around 47 foster kids come through our home. Our goal is always reunification with the family whenever possible. We want the parents to get the care they need, find safe housing, and resolve their situations so that the kids can return to them safely. We know it is always best if the kids can go back home. Many of the kids who have stayed with us and returned home have continued to stay in touch with us over the years.
It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.
Foster care has taught me to be dependent on God. You have to give so much of yourself and your heart. You want to hold the children at a distance knowing they will leave, but allowing yourself to be vulnerable and fall in love with each kid means trusting God to pick up the pieces when they go. It has been a bittersweet thing to learn. These kids are wonderful and amazing and complex and difficult and challenging.
Adoption is the bravest and most loving thing that a mom can do. Any mom facing an unplanned pregnancy should know that. Although it is difficult, it can be the best choice for your child. The most loving option is giving them a safe home where they will receive everything that they need.