The foster care system in the United States has about 397,000 children. This number is overwhelming. It is the main reason my husband and I decided to foster instead of adopt internationally. The need in our home country is great. As I look back on the journey, I am amazed at how God used our time in Texas to build our family. We moved to Texas with a little girl that we adopted in Florida. The time had come to have another child, but I am unable to bear children due to a medical condition. That is when we decided to get our foster care license at FamilyLink.
Our first time being on the ranch and meeting the FamilyLink staff was for pre license training. I remember feeling overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed by the hours of training we needed, the challenges we were told we would encounter and the number of foster children that I met that day. I questioned God and pondered about why He had chosen us for this mission. I was excited about having more children soon, but that excitement was muddled by fear of failing as a foster parent.
The next three months were spent completing paperwork and training hours so our home could be licensed. We got our license and one week later we had our first placement. My husband received the phone call and when he told me we were high fiving, hooting and hollering. It was a three week old and she would be with us in three hours. That’s all we knew. She stayed with us for three weeks and in that short time she stole our hearts.
After the first placement left, we waited a few more weeks but didn’t get any calls. The main reason was that our family of three lived in a small two-bedroom home. We moved to a larger three-bedroom duplex and updated our license. By then we were within a year of when my husband, who is in the military, was going to be reassigned to another post. We decided that because of the time constraints it would be best to only accept children that were further along in the court process. This meant we would welcome legal risk or adoptive placements. I received several emails a day with children needing adoptive homes. Our family was submitted for 32 different children. It was a cycle of receiving emails that contained bios of different children available for adoption, then deciding if our family should be submitted as a possible adoptive family. Once we were submitted we would wait weeks to hear if we were chosen. One of the emails was for a two year old and her ten month old brother. Nothing major stood out about the sibling set. However, God knew that those two children would join our family forever.
A month after submitting for the two year old and ten month old, we were chosen for the staffing. The staffing is when three families are compared to one another and one is chosen to be the adoptive placement. Our family had been looked at in two other staffing meetings, but was not chosen. I was cautiously optimistic about the staffing for these siblings so when I found out we were actually picked this time I was surprised.
The next step for our family was to go to the children’s current foster home to meet them. They lived in a foster home with a sixty and eighty year old mother and daughter about four hours from our home. The purpose of the meet was to make sure our family would be a good fit for the children’s needs before they were moved into our home. We walked up to the front door and knocked. The foster mother and children were in the back so the foster mother walked around the corner and called us over. When we walked over, the two year old peeked around the corner with a big smile and her hands up in the air asking my husband to pick her up. That’s when I knew all the frustrations and work to get to this point was worth it.
We would visit them a couple of weekends over the next two months. Originally CPS was planning on moving the kids to our home immediately, but there was a possibility of reunification and a mix up with some of our paperwork. The wait was frustrating and confusing. I thought these were the new additions our family had been waiting on. That is when I started to recite the following Bible verse daily to myself, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)
A date was set to pick up the children and move them into their new home. The first week they joined us was a beautiful honeymoon phase. I thought we would be a lucky family, one that adjusted easily. I was wrong. There was a period of three months where there was chaos. My husband and I would argue, our oldest child (once an only child) struggled and our two new babies shut down in the unfamiliar environment. I questioned what I just signed up for now a parent of a three, two and one year old. I was a ragged and tired mom, but my determination to pull this family together won over. My strongest memory during these three months is when our middle child woke with tremors in the middle of the night. I was rocking her back to sleep in the living room when I began to cry for her. The trauma of her childhood had led to frequent nightmares and it seemed so unfair. She released her hands from my neck to wipe the tears on my face. She was and is so strong.
I wish I could say that after we got through the adjustment period we were met with no other struggles. That was not the case. The birth parents appealed the termination of rights which extended our case another 6 months. My husband left for his new duty station (unaccompanied assignment) and later came back for the adoption finalization. Even on the morning of the finalization, the court told us that they would need to reschedule the finalization but our lawyer pleaded with the judge otherwise.
The picture I included with this testimony I picked for a very specific reason. It’s not the most artistic photo we have of my children, but it holds much meaning. Here they sit on the table top together having overcome so much. They look out into the woods where there are many trees. Each tree is unique and has its imperfections, but God designed it for a purpose. Likewise each foster child is unique and has its imperfections, but God designed him or her for a purpose. The foster care system is an overwhelming number of children just as the forest is an overwhelming number of trees. Somehow God strategically arranged for our home to be available for these three children at the moment they needed an adoptive home. Becoming a foster parent is more difficult than you could ever imagine. Most people say that the kids are worth it, but the reality is that you are worth it. You’re worth the opportunity to love a child that does not know love, and watch how it can change a life.