The Day Our Lives Changed Forever
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 we were excited about discovering what our next step would be.
Then one ordinary day, our phone rang, and our lives changed forever from that moment. It was a staff member of our local Headstart program. The staff member was calling to let us know about a community family in a difficult situation. This family needed some emergency help caring for their children. Paul and I knew this family already and had had frequent interaction with them over the past several years, mostly through church-related ministry.
In fact, Jen (name changed) had suggested to the Headstart staff that Paul and I might be able to 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 gotten to hold 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. Before knowing about this need, I had already booked a flight out of the country to 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 full-time. My husband and I were instant parents! We went from no children to two very busy little boys. We toddler-proofed our home in record time, trying our best just to stay one step ahead of them at time. Our hearts bonded immediately, but that didn’t mean things were glorious and smooth. Those were some of the most challenging days that we had ever faced together as a couple.
So Many Changes
Alec was a bald little toothless wonder when he first came to us. Over 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. The plan was always that the boys would be back together with their family by the end of June. We were not licensed foster parents, and the boys were not in foster care; we were just friends helping out a friend in a tough spot. Still, when we met up with Jen a few times during those months, 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. Yet our hearts were already being knit together with theirs. Even the thought of those ties ripping apart hurt deeply.
Then July came, and it was time for the boys to return to their home. First, the boys went for a visit on a Sunday afternoon and returned to us that evening. The plan was that they would completely transition back home by the end of that week. 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 day before we would be flying out, the boys would be moving back to their home.
The night before the move was horrid. As if both of the boys, as young as they were, sensed something significant was happening. 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, and the cycle repeated itself for much of the night. My own mind whirled about so that even when the boys did sleep for a little while, sleep evaded me.
The next day, as Paul and I made the 9-hour drive to where we would be catching our flight to Northern Saskatchewan, we had lots of time to talk about and begin to process through all that had happened over the previous few months. We knew beyond a sliver of doubt that it was time to move forward with becoming licensed foster parents. We honestly 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.
The next few weeks flew by in a blur of activity and summer ministries. But once the flurry of activity 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.
If you think you might be ready to take the next step towards adoption or foster care, here are some things to consider:
- Both the husband and wife need to be in agreement about whether or not to move forward. In hearing other couples’ 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 feel naturally drawn towards children: our bodies, after all, are uniquely designed for bearing and nurturing life, and the longing to mother children is weaved into the very core of who we are created to be.
- 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 (privately or through the foster care system) or becoming foster care parents? 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, and I’ll give you some helpful guidance on things to expect as you take your next step towards foster care or adoption.
And as always, feel free to contact me if you have specific questions related to foster care and or adoption. I’d love to help you along this journey!