Our Adoption Journey Continues
It was May of 2012, and my husband and I were just weeks away from our second anniversary. We were enjoying our life together very much, but after many months of praying, researching and talking with friends who had either fostered, adopted, or both, we felt like the time was coming close that we should move forward in that direction. We had narrowed down the many options available for potential foster or adoptive families, and were excited about discovering what our next step would be.
Then one ordinary day, our phone rang, and our lives were changed forever from that moment on. A staff member from our local Headstart program called us, and said she needed help caring for the children of one of the mothers in their program. Jen (not her real name) was a young mother in our community whom we knew quite well, since we picked up her oldest son for Sunday School, and had regular contact with her and her boyfriend in an attempt to support and help them in the struggles they were facing.
Issues had been building in Jen’s life, and when the situation became a crisis, she checked herself into treatment in an effort to get the help she needed to be able to take care of herself and her children. The caring staff at our local Headstart offered to help care for her children while she got the help she needed, and Jen had suggested to them that Paul and I could help out with her two youngest boys, then ages 23 months and 9 months.
Of course we said “Yes!” We had already formed a bit of a bond with the boys, and we had held them various times while visiting their home. For about the first week after the call I looked after the boys during the day, and then they spent the night with a staff member from Headstart. Prior to receiving the call, I had already booked a flight out of country to go spend some time with my sister after she gave birth to her son, so we arranged with the Headstart staff that once I returned from my visit to my sister we would bring the boys into our home full time.
As soon as I returned from my sister’s place, the two little guys came to stay with us fulltime. My husband and I were instant parents! We went from no children to two very busy and needy little boys. We toddler-proofed our home in record time, trying our best to just stay one step ahead of them. Our hearts bonded immediately, but that didn’t mean things were glorious and smooth. Those were some of the most challenging days Paul and I had faced up to that point in our lives together.
So Many Changes!
Alec was a bald little toothless wonder when he first came to us. In the next two months he popped six teeth, and went from laying flat on a blanket to crawling almost faster than we could keep up. Mason, who spent his second birthday with us, was a quiet but curious little boy. He had not yet learned to talk, but he soon gained a few words, and began to thrive.
But we knew this wasn’t a permanent arrangement. Jen was scheduled to be in treatment until the end of June and the plan was the boys would go back with her and their other siblings at that time. We were not licensed foster parents, and the boys were not in foster care; we were just friends helping out someone in a tough spot. We met up with Jen a few times during those months and I remember how odd I felt handing the boys over for her to hold. I felt like I was giving someone else my baby and my head scolded my heart for feeling that way. These two little guys weren’t mine to keep: I knew that. But our hearts were already being knit together and even the thought of those ties being ripped apart hurt deeply.
July came and Jen moved back home. After she had a few days to settle back in, and her other children were back with her, the boys went for an afternoon visit . She said she wasn’t quite ready to have them back with her yet and I was just fine with that, because I wasn’t ready to see them leave, either. But this arrangement could only last so long. Paul and I were scheduled to leave the second week of July to fly to Northern Canada to a camp where Paul would be the chapel speaker for a week. The night before we would be leaving to fly out, and the boys would be going back to their home, was horrid. It was as if the boys sensed something was happening, even though as young as they were they knew very little of the turmoil that was swirling in the adult world around them. I don’t know if any of us slept much at all that night. Every time one of the boys would fall asleep the other one would inevitably wake up crying again, and the cycle continued for much of the night.
As it so happened, my husband and I were the ones who left our home while the boys were still there. It was a Sunday, and after our morning church service we had a nine hour drive to the city where we would catch our flights early Monday morning. The boys were suppose to have gone back with their mom a few days earlier that week, but there were complications, including an infection that landed her in the hospital over the weekend. Paul’s sister, who was home from her overseas mission work that summer, stayed in our home with the boys until a staff member from Headstart picked them up later that evening, and took them back to their mom the next day.
we knew beyond a sliver of doubt that it was time to move forward with becoming licensed foster parents. We truly did not know whether Mason and Alec would ever be a part of our family again but we knew we needed to be ready and available for whatever children God would send us in the future.
For us, the next few weeks were such a blur of activity and summer ministries that we hardly had time to process all that had happened that spring and summer. But once the dust had settled a bit, and August rolled in, we knew one thing was certain: we cared deeply for those two little guys, and we would do what we could to stay in contact and love them from a distance. And something else was crystal clear: we knew beyond a sliver of doubt that it was time to move forward with becoming licensed foster parents.
We knew beyond a sliver of doubt that it was time to move forward … We truly did not know whether Mason and Alec would ever be a part of our family again but we knew we needed to be ready and available for whatever children God would send us in the future.
If you’re thinking you might be ready to take the next step towards adoption or foster care here are some things to consider:
- It is absolutely essential that both the husband and wife are in agreement about whether or not to move forward. In hearing other’s stories, it is not uncommon for the wife to feel “ready” long before the husband does, and that was certainly true in our case. Many women are naturally drawn towards children: our bodies, after all, are uniquely designed for bearing and nurturing life, and the longing to mother children is woven into the very core of who we are.
- Have you thoroughly researched the foster and adoption options available to you? Do you have a clear idea of which direction you want to go, such as international or domestic adoption, private adoption or through foster care? If you are leaning towards foster care, do you want to work directly towards adoption, or do you want to foster a child first, with or without the potential of one day adopting that child? These are hard questions to wrestle through, but as you pray, research and seek wise counsel, God will reveal His plan for your family.
- For us, we had no other children at the time to take into consideration. However, If you have children already in your home, it is imperative that you consider how bringing other children into your home will affect them. Your first responsibility is to the children that are already in your family, and their well being is of utmost importance. I’ll be talking more about that in a future post, so stay tuned if this applies to your situation.
- Have you sought out counsel from wise, godly people who know and love you well? This can be an incredibly emotional time, and getting outside, objective advice is a crucial step. Ultimately the decision rests on the couple alone, but I believe that this is far too big a step to be made without the wisdom of others speaking into your lives.
- Has God given you confirmation that it is time to move forward? God can and will do this in a variety of ways, including a deep peace that this is His will; events that begin to unfold; resources that become available, and a host of other means that He may use to let you know that this is – or isn’t – His timing.
In this next post here, I share about the next stage of our adoption journey, as well as giving some helpful guidance on things to expect as you take your next step towards foster care or adoption.