Chronicling the joys and challenges of fostering and adopting.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day

As we celebrate Father's Day, I get to reflect on how incredibly blessed I am to have a father who has shown me unconditional love. He read us stories, brushed our teeth, wrestled, went on hikes, took us camping, encouraged us to be adventurous, and spoiled us. He was always so patient with me and willing to be gentle in my emotionally charged teenage years. I remember times I would be sobbing in my room, probably for no reason, and my dad would come in anyway. He would meet me in my mess. He was and is such a great example of how our Heavenly Father pursues us, in our mess. And he always pointed us to Christ. My brother, sister and I have a collective favorite memory of him: seeing him reading his Bible while we came downstairs after we woke up. He is not perfect, but he knows that he is saved by God's amazing grace and always pointed us to God's truth, and I'm thankful he could show that to me. And even today, he does all he can to pour more love into my kids. We have asked him to love kiddos that aren't "blood," and he never gives it a second thought. He's as passionate about them as his own as I am, and for that, I am forever grateful. I love you, Dad!

Because of the man he was, my standards were pretty high to find a man to marry. In God's great mercy, I married Sean. I'm blown away at the dad he has become to our kids. I think back to when we were dating and first married, and he always said he only ever wanted one, maybe two kids (being raised with a total of 4 kids was too chaotic for him). But now he is a father of seven, and he is one of the best dad's I know. He makes them a priority in his life and moves beyond exhaustion to pour into them. This summer he has made it a point to wake up with each kiddo and look at the stars with them and teach them about the universe that God has created. He chooses to teach them God's truth on a continual basis. He is kind and gentle when a girly needs it, but then rough and playful when another needs that too. He gives all he is to be their father and to point them to Christ. I am so thankful that he is their dad. I love you, Sean!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

This week has been rough. Very rough. A situation happened to make me want to crawl in a hole and cry for a week. It was a defining moment for our family in how we foster. We are choosing to let brokenness into our home, and that brokenness affects every single area of our lives. Our innocent children become aware of things far too early. We are tested and tried if these children are worth the pain and strife they bring in.

Christ tells us the two greatest things in life are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). With what happened in our home, I knew that we were at a point of loving this little girl like we would love ourselves. And when I think of “ourselves,” I think of “our kids.” Many foster families will say, “I have to keep my kids safe, so the foster kid needs to go for such and such a reason.” I understand where they are coming from, but when are these foster children ever going to be loved like they are someone’s “own” kids? When one of “your own” children does something horrible, will you kick them out? Or will you do everything in your power to make them be able to survive and eventually thrive in your home?

Our girlie is teaching us that she needs to be loved. She needs to be wanted. She needs to be safe and secure and free to make mistakes and not get kicked out, or beaten, or abandoned for her sin. She is silently asking us to love her as we love our other children. I have such a hard time depicting any of my children different from the other. God has given us 7 children. How He gave us each child is as unique as the child. And I love that. But with each of those gifts has come much heartbreak as well. 

Colossians 3:1-3, 12-15, 17 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, no on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God . . . Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body . . . And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

P.S. Because of God's sovereignty, children are moved from homes not outside of His will. We have known families who have needed to move children from their home, and those choices are never taken lightly and really are necessary. Each family is unique. This is a post specifically about our family's foster journey.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Miracle Number 1

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal 6:18).

One thing that I’ve learned about foster care is that it makes you feel inherently needy. First it isolates you from others in certain ways (friends don’t understand what you’re going through, spouses have to divide and conquer by taking different kids to different events, people think you’re crazy etc.). But on top of that, it can stretch your finances. In foster care, they give you a monthly stipend, which is normally enough to cover most expenses, but at times, big purchases become necessary, such as a new car or a larger house, and it’s been in this neediness that we’ve been able to really see God’s provision in a way we’ve never witnessed before.
When we first decided to start fostering, we were continually going back and forth on the age of the child we might accept, or if we should even accept two! But we knew we were not ready emotionally or even physically to accept any over the age of eight. We knew we wanted to be fully engaged emotionally with the older children, but with us having a toddler of our own, a lot of time goes in to just monitoring her actions. So we finally decided that we would accept one child between the ages of 0-5yrs. While going through the training, our hearts broke more and more. Every Sunday at church a song would play talking about how God is the Father to the Fatherless. How I desperately wanted to take in as many children and tell them of this TRUTH (Sean says he was a lot less sure he wanted to take in as many as possible)! 

But we just physically couldn't. Because of the legalities concerning foster care, one child could share Abby's room, and another little baby could sleep in our room (we had one other room on a different level, but kids under 5 can’t stay on another level). On top of that, our car couldn't fit three kids in the back, it could only barely squeeze two with car seats. My heart continued to break because of this. But God had been teaching me a lot. Sean and I started praying. If God wanted us to have two more kids then He would just have to provide us with a van. But vans are expensive and we didn’t have the money. He would have to do nothing short of a miracle for that to happen.

Even if we could save anything, it would have taken us probably two years to get the money. But I didn't know what my God had in store for us. One week before we were licensed, I opened our door to find a manila envelope tucked underneath our doormat. I picked it up and tossed it on the couch (we were on our way to meet Daddy at his truck). The envelope would have to wait. When we got back, I opened the package and I started shaking. Honestly, I was almost scared, because there was $5,000.00 in cash and a note in there! The note read, "God hears you." I started sobbing. Could God truly have heard our cry? Why was I in such disbelief? My whole life God has shown Himself to be nothing short of AWESOME. But in that moment, God had shown His faithfulness and provision.

God brought us to a place that we have challenged Him to "throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" (Mal 3:10). Well, we "tested" (3:10) Him in it and He has done just that. He has poured an abundance of blessing on us. "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." Malachai 3:10

Thank you for this “Mom Van” I swore I’d never drive.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day

I know this is a day late, but I wanted to take the time to write about motherhood and foster care. 

Obviously, I’m not the mother, so I’m writing this from the outside in. But one thing I can tell you about foster care is that oftentimes, the foster mom takes the brunt of a child’s trauma; not just because she’s home with them all day, but because most kids already have a bio-mom, whereas the bio-father may or may not be in the picture. And this has been the case in nearly all of our placements. 
When we first started, we came into foster care hoping to rescue children from hopeless situations. And in some ways we’ve done that. But what no one tells you is that many of these kids don’t want to be saved. Despite their circumstances, before being removed, the kids can count on life being familiar. They know what to expect, even if they can only expect abuse or neglect. What’s more is that there is an inherent bond between a parent and child, even if it’s dysfunctional, and this is especially true of the biological mother. So we find that most kids have a desperate desire to be reconciled to their biological mother, even if that relationship is untenable.
As a result of these discoveries, Rach has spent much of her time as a nurturer knowing that there is some type of disconnect between herself and most of our children. Our kids love her, but given the choice, some of them might choose their bio-mom over her if given the chance… and this is a heart wrenching reality. In essence, Rach has been called to be a mother to children who, at least at times, wish to have someone else in that role. 
But years ago, up in our bathroom, Rach printed off a verse in which Paul writes, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:10-11). Rach has participated in Christ’s sufferings in ways I may never experience. Christ died for us even when we were still enemies. Even as Christians, we push away constantly when He would draw near. 

Similarly, Rach has offered herself for these kids, though they unknowingly and subconsciously push away. But she keeps pushing forward anyway. And this is to love as Christ loves. It’s not always done in perfection, and many times we have rough days where we just need to regroup and let tomorrow be a new day. But if there’s one thing that foster care has taught me, it’s in the realization of just how far Christ moves toward us in spite of ourselves, and Rach has played no small role in that realization.
Thank you Rach, for your persistence and constancy in loving these kids. It’s often thankless work, but you’ve excelled in it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Where it All Began

“There are about 100,000 children in foster care that are currently waiting to be adopted across America, and there are over 100,000,000 professing Christians in the same area. Why aren’t Christians opening more of their homes to these kids when God clearly calls us to care for the widows and the orphans? Where’s the disconnect?” This was the statement that first made me consider fostering about 5 years ago. I had been listening to Francis Chan preach while driving from job to job working as a technician, and the rebuke hit me like a ton of bricks. The truth is, I had never even considered foster care. I honestly would have been happy stopping at the one girl we had at the time. On top of that, I was going to school full time and working anywhere from 45-55 hours a week, so taking on extra responsibilities was not at the top of my list. But God had other plans. The sermon stuck out to me, so I brought the idea back to my wife Rachel. After a few days, I basically forgot about the sermon, but Rach was actively looking at agencies, and so while I brought the idea home, it was Rach who did all of the leg work. She found an agency in town, and within about three months we were trained and certified. Not even 24 hours later, we received a call for our first placement, which we accepted.
It’s been four and a half years since we were first certified. Throughout those years, we have adopted four children, have two biological children, had a teen-mom who briefly made us grandparents at the ripe old age of 27, had a number of kids come through for respite, and we currently have one sweet girl as a foster placement. Altogether, we currently have seven kids in our home. While most of the time it’s utter chaos, there is something about foster care that teaches our kids that people are important, and they’re worth it.
Rach and I have wanted to start a blog on this for a long time. We’ve finally realized that there will never really be a time when everything settles down, so we’re going to try to just resurrect Rach's old one and see what happens by each writing about it from our different perspectives. We want to give others a view of what fostering might do to your family (both good and bad), or how one might help even if they can’t take in a child as a placement, and lastly, how God has provided for us over and over again, prepping us for each next step we were about to take. 

A Letter to Abby

My little girl is about to turn three here in a few months. I want to cry a little thinking about it. It's so neat looking back over the past 3+ years of God giving her to us. I had no clue that I wanted this little girl, but now I could not imagine life any different.

She's got this duel personality. A public one and a private one.

In public she is: sweet, sensitive, timid, compassionate, loving, caring, gracious, and kind.

In private she is: funny, loud, boisterous, sweet, naughty, arrogant, self-centered, bossy, cuddly, and loving.

God has created her for such a unique person. Born the oldest, but two years later becoming the baby. People often ask us if we regret changing the "birth order." Never. God wants her just where she's at. I love you sweet Abby girl.