I remember our biological daughter being just a couple weeks old when I brought up the possibility of foster care to my husband. We had talked about it several times and always used the typical, “one-day we will,” phrase. This time though, I truly felt like “one day” was right now. My sweet husband was hesitant, but came to me the following day and told me that he had the same pull on his heartstrings to foster that I was feeling just one day prior.
We sat in a foster agency office holding our sweet biological baby girl as we listened to the social worker explain that we should not enter into foster care in hopes of adopting. She told us that we need to be okay with being temporary parents and saying yes to “for now.” Our hearts dropped as we heard her explain some of the horror stories that she had witnessed regarding foster parents and potential heartbreak. We got into the car and rode home in silence for a while as we both pondered what our hearts would inevitably endure through foster care. My husband turned to me breaking the silence and said, “If we don’t, who will?” How could my husband be using the same phrase I had used on him so many times? How did our roles switch into me being the scared one in our marriage for foster care? It was then that I realized our faith would provide strength for my husband on the days I was weak and strength for me on the days that my husband needed a boost. We were all in this thing together.
As we began finalizing our foster care license, the reality of the foster system was starting to set in. I would get extremely emotional as I put together the “foster care room” as we called it where our future child would be sleeping someday. I would switch furniture around every day in anticipation and try to be prepared for both genders of multiple age groups. I would sit in the rocking chair after organizing and cry thinking about getting attached to a sweet child and then losing them. My husband would remind me every day that none of our kids are ours forever. We are not promised tomorrow with biological, adopted or foster children. Did I worry about keeping my biological daughter safe? Of course. However, I did not let it consume me every single day. The same worries I had keeping our biological daughter safe, healthy and home are the same worries that could consume me about foster care if I let them. As husband and wife, we encouraged one another to enjoy the now. We wanted to be present in the little moments of reassuring a child they were safe, rejoicing in their firsts with them and living together in a household founded on love. And that’s (with some road bumps) exactly what we did.
The very first day that we were placed on the “open bed list” we got a call within an hour. Between the time that we were placed on the list and the time we picked up our first little guy, we had gone through saying yes to three different children over the phone. We said yes to all of them just to get a call hours later that they would not be showing up because they would be placed elsewhere (more likely with biological families than with foster families). Those hours were a whirlwind as we would change out cribs for toddler beds, pull out more girls/boys clothing and run to the store for necessities just to find out they wouldn’t be coming. We would laugh, cry and then take a deep breath and remind ourselves everything was okay. The last call we received was for a three-week old baby that needed to be picked up from the NICU. We said yes and once again set out for the things we needed. The date/time to pick him up kept getting pushed back and I was beginning to get frustrated when we finally received the call to pick up little man. I will never forget walking through the sterile hospital hallways into a NICU room and being told, “Here he is, here’s your mom and dad, baby.” Beauty and devastation were all intertwined into one moment and we fell in love with our (not known at the time) adopted son.
The journey was not easy. It was the not-knowing how this would end that was so hard, and there were plenty of confusing times with potential family members possibly being chosen to raise him instead. I broke down and called a great friend of mine. She sweetly, yet sternly said to me, “Don’t ride the roller coaster. Enjoy each day with him or you are going to regret it.” It was the same exact sentence that my husband and I expressed months before just in different words. How did we forget to enjoy the now? My sweet friend was right and it was exactly what I needed to set aside my pride and realize that I was not and will never be in control. A year and a half later we received our adoption date and get to say “yes” to forever. But, I never want to lose sight that forever is still for now. Even after adoption, I will have to choose every day to not ride the roller coaster of emotions and to take one day at a time choosing to love my children each hour that we are given.
My son’s adoption story is one of my favorite stories of all time and I cannot wait to see how he uses it for beauty one day. The redemption, healing and newly founded relationships that we have witnessed have been nothing short of a miracle. Foster care both broke and built our family into what we are today and I wouldn’t change one thing.