This post may be long and repetitive. But I was asked to share this in church and thought I’d share what I said here as well.
Since I was in high school, I knew God wanted me to adopt kids someday. I cannot explain why I knew that or how God told me exactly but I remember having that thought as early as age 17. When I prayed for a future spouse, I prayed for someone who wanted to adopt kids. So, when D and I started talking about getting married and the future, adoption was always part of the plan.
Around the same time I started thinking about adoption, I also began to struggle with anxiety. This is something that was a big part of my life through most of my college years and early twenties. I would have to talk myself out of bed some mornings because I was just so burdened with anxiety and worry. I tried many things and sometimes it would get better but I would habitually return to worry. For me, it really came down to an issue of wanting to be in control. Anything I couldn’t control, I worried about.
A few years ago, I started doing research on adoption and foster care as we thought about how we might grow our family. I knew God wanted us to adopt but we did not exactly know from where or how. I was continually pointed to things on foster care, specifically the story of one couple who shared about their foster children through a podcast. I was so encouraged and blessed by their story and I suggested D to that he start listening to the podcast as well. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” It became clear that we were being called to live out this verse through foster care and adoption. We could not get the stories or the statistics we heard out of our minds:
- A half million kids in foster care in the United States.
- 130,000 kids WAITING for a family (literally adoptable at that moment).
- The likelihood of adoption decreasing for children over the age of three.
I began praying for the kids who would come into our home and I loved them before I knew their faces or names. I cried for them and I thought about them often. You might think that is crazy but that is the kind of thing God does. But in addition to my desire for these kids, I was also faced with the reality that becoming a foster parent puts you in a place of vulnerability and very little control.
It was getting to a point where not taking the next step seemed like disobedience; God was clearly telling us to do this. As soon as we made the decision to start the process with an agency, the worry struck. I was worried about what people would think. I was worried about if we could afford me cutting back my hours at work. I worried about getting in over our heads. I talked about all these worries with Dan but they were not worth holding up what God was saying to do so in March we attended our first class to become licensed foster parents. After about ten months we were licensed and they called us about a five year old boy who needed a home. S was with us for five weeks. In those five weeks, we cared for a kid who was used to having no rules, we established boundaries, we formed a relationship with his parents and, ultimately, we were part of his family being reunified. Just two days after he went home, our agency called us about M & T.
In the past three months, we have been a family of two, then a family of three, then a family of two and then a family of four. We have parented an energetic five-year-old boy, a sweet but determined two-year old girl, and a newborn (perhaps our biggest challenge). Our situation in both cases has changed on a daily basis. Some days we were told S would be with us for a long-time and then suddenly he was returned home. We continue to learn more about M’s past each day and wonder what is going on in that sweet little head of hers. We cannot control their past and we cannot control their future. I can honestly say, with each sudden or unexpected change of plans, God has given me peace.
I’ve received a few comments about how relaxed I seem as a parent. Friends who have known me for years and have known me to be a “not-so-relaxed” person are surprised by this. While we do wonder what will happen with M & T, I do not find myself overwhelmed as I once would have been with the “what-ifs” of the situation. While I don’t expect that my tendency to anxiety is completely cured, I know that I am a different person because of what God has done.
What we expected of being foster parents was the opportunity to live out God’s heart for the orphan by caring for kids who needed a home. We hope to have positive relationships with our agency, our kids and, if possible, with birth parents. We hope to adopt kids who cannot return to their family. Ephesians 1:4 explains that we have been adopted by God and this experience has at least given me a small glimpse of His love for us. But for me at least, the unintended consequence of all of this has been a deeper trust in God with a new found ability to give over to Him my worries and fears.