We first shared our foster care story as regular, individual posts (8 of them, to be exact!), but thought it might be easier if they were all put in one place for easier access. This is that place.
We hope you are encouraged as you read through our journey.
Soooo … grab a cup of coffee, a glass of sweet iced tea, chilled water or whatever beverage floats your boat today, settle in, get comfy … and enjoy!
When Papa and I began dating in 1996, it was very apparent we were going to get married. Because of this, we talked about many of our future plans together: our hopes and dreams, what we want to experience, where we want to live, what our floor plans would be for a dream house, places we want to travel to, and other various fun ideas.
One of these conversations subsequently revolved around children. We loved children. We worked with children. We had hearts for children. Over time, we discussed how many children we wanted to have in our family, as well as when we would like to have them.
Papa is the oldest of 4 children in his family and I am the second of 4 children in mine. It was very natural for us to “plan” to have 4 children of our own as well! After all, that’s what our families had done, so we’d do that, too. Right?! Right. Four children it is. We planned to have our first child about 3 years after we got married so we could enjoy our “alone” time together during those newlywed years. From there, we planned to have a child every 2 years. Yup, that’s “the plan” for us.
Or, so we thought.
Just over a year after we were married, despite many sticky note reminders (literally) all over our 2 bedroom apartment, I missed taking my birth control pills a few times one month. Guess what happened? Yup, we got pregnant. Surprise! In 2000, we had our firstborn son (Bro) a couple of months before our 2 year anniversary. He was born a year or so before we planned, but we instantly fell in love. There was so much love in our hearts that we never even knew was there!
Our hearts grew 1 size that day.
Despite the early start, things were generally going according to our plan.
Eventually, it was that time again to have another baby with our 2 years apart age gap plan. At the beginning of 2002, we were able to get pregnant very quickly! Our schedule was right on track. This baby would be due almost exactly 2 years from the time we had our first. Yay for perfect timing and perfect planning!!
Or, so we thought.
Unfortunately, only 6 weeks into the pregnancy, I had a miscarriage. The doctor said it was a chromosomal imbalance or something? I’m still not exactly sure the cause of the miscarriage. It was a strange feeling to know I was pregnant, but not really feel pregnant (no morning sickness, no movement of the baby, etc.), and lose a baby in the process. We grieved our loss. Papa did have a little harder time, emotionally, than me as he was truly ready and eager to have another baby. But, we worked through our emotions together. I know every miscarriage experience is different for individuals and couples. My heart hurts for the many mothers who have experienced the grief of losing a baby. It is not an easy road, no matter how or when you travel it.
With all of these happenings, our doctor told us to wait a few months before trying to get pregnant again. My body needed time to adjust and heal while our emotions needed to settle a bit, too. We welcomed and accepted that counsel.
Little did we know, those few months of waiting would never come. We were pregnant only 1 month/cycle later. Wow. Though we did not plan to get pregnant immediately after the miscarriage, we were grateful for the quick healing.
Twenty-six months after we had Bro, we delivered a beautiful baby girl (Demo) into the world. A wonderful little miracle who led us in singing and dancing.
Our hearts grew 2 sizes that day.
We enjoyed our “perfect” little family. Papa, Momma, Bro and Demo. By societies standards, we had the “perfect little family!” However, we had always talked about having 4 children, remember?
When our baby girl was just 3 months old, yes THREE months old, we found out we were pregnant again! Wait a minute. What?! Pregnant? AGAIN? So quickly?! Even while nursing Demo? Craziness. This means the gap between our 2nd and 3rd child will be only ONE year, not TWO! Hold on, this is not according to our plan!
Once again, we were stoked. Completely shocked, yes, but incredibly excited! Another baby to love, hold and raise. We were thrilled!
A mere 12 1/2 months after Demo was born, we gave birth to a happy, healthy, made-her-presence-known baby girl (Sparkle).
Our hearts grew 3 sizes that day.
Papa and I were now the proud parents of 3 beautiful children in just 3 short years. Bro was 3 years and 3 months old, Demo was 12 1/2 months old and we had a newborn baby girl, Sparkle. Wow. Not what we had pictured in our heads … but we loved (almost) every crying, laughing, diaper changing, sleepless night, playing, and feeding moment.
Three children in three years … but, we always wanted four children in our family. We’ll wait a bit before having him/her.
Or, so we thought.
Only 16 months after our 3rd child was born, we gave birth to our 2nd son (King) in 2005. We had our 4th baby. Four babies in 4 1/2 years (Bro was 4 yrs 7 mo, Demo was 2 yrs 5 mo, Sparkle was 16 mo and baby boy King was a newborn). Not our original plan, but again … our hearts swelled with immense love for our babies.
In fact, our hearts grew 4 sizes that day.
This is the point in the story where people begin to question our sanity.
“Do you know what causes that?” Yes.
“Wow, your hands are really full!” Yes.
“How do you do it?” One minute at a time.
“Do you sleep?” No.
“Do you get overwhelmed?” Yes.
“Will you have any more?” That’s not the plan! ?
We now had our even more perfect family. Two boys. Two girls. None of our children were planned by us, but all were planned by God. In fact, the only pregnancy that we had truly planned, ended in a miscarriage. What a very humbling experience.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” ~ Proverbs 16:9.
We had planned our way, but the Lord had directed our steps. Praise the Lord for His perfect, though unexpected, timing!
As Psalm 127:3 declares, our four children ARE a blessing from the Lord!
Our hearts were at FULL capacity!
Or, so we thought …
Knowing how quickly and easily we were able to get pregnant with our 4 children, Papa and I went into what one might call, “panic mode.” We had to do something and do it QUICK or we would have another baby if Papa and I even looked at each other!
Since the plan was always to have 4 children, once we had them, we were “done.” We made the decision for Papa to have a vasectomy in May 2006. This was just over a year from the time our 4th child was born.
We had a lot of major events occur between 2000-2006! During this time, we bought our 1st home, changed communities (including our church community), had 4 kids, had 1 vasectomy … and that’s just the beginning. Definitely a season of change.
After the procedure was done, my emotions were all over the place. There was sadness knowing my season of childbearing was over, but strangely, I also sensed a bit of relief. I had been pregnant or nursing for about 5 years straight, so I welcomed the break from those hormonal roller coasters and bodily changes.
Unfortunately (that’s the understatement of the century!), we realized far too late what we had actually done. I would soon long so deeply for those hormonal and bodily changes to happen again. But, these changes would not come.
October 2008 marks the moment in time when Papa and I realized the magnitude of our decision to have a vasectomy. In May 2006, we had purposefully, by choice, by our choice, without praying or seeking the Lord’s direction … had gone ahead and made a permanent decision. We would not have any more biological children. Sigh.
It is not uncommon for Papa and I to pray for the Lord to show us what home to buy, what to do with our finances, how to handle our work, how to navigate friendships, what to read in His Word, and we pray for safe travels on long trips. However, we made this gigantic and permanent decision without even praying through it. Why didn’t we?! Why? Because we had made it our choice. It was part of our plan for all of these years. We made it so we could no longer welcome little blessings into the world through my womb, by choice.
Our regret and grief penetrated to the depths of our hearts and souls. Pain. Agony. Sorrow. We shed many, many tears.
Here is an excerpt from my journal, dated October 18, 2008,
Papa and I are going through some things. We have realized that we jumped ahead and did what we wanted and planned because it was what we thought was best. We went ahead with Papa’s vasectomy a couple years ago and are now regretting that decision. We both do not feel like our family is done.
This morning we layed in bed and confessed this sin of doing our own will and not God’s. It was emotional for me, and very humbling. We confessed our selfishness and not even consulting or asking God what we should do. Then, we expressed our openness and availability to do whatever HE wants us to do. Whether it be to do a reversal, adopt, foster … whatever. We just “feel” like our family isn’t done growing yet. What that looks like exactly, we don’t know.
This journal entry sums it up very well. This was such a difficult season in our lives. Our hearts were broken as the full reality continued to sink in further and further with each passing day. Unless the Lord did a miraculous work (which is always possible!!!!), Papa and I would never have any more children.
November 2010 – May 2011
Two years after Papa and I cried out to the Lord for forgiveness regarding Papa’s vasectomy, a big shift took place: I became obsessed.
In hopes of the Lord doing a miracle in our bodies, I became fully convinced I was pregnant every month. This obsession consumed me for approximately 2 years. In particular, the hope of conceiving again was never more alive than between November 2010 and May 2011. I looked forward to seeing if I was pregnant every month. I (mentally) manufactured pregnancy symptoms convincing myself I was actually expecting again. I calculated ovulation and watched my cycle closely. Every month, for these 6 months especially, I was obsessed.
The idea of being pregnant never left my mind.
I searched online the probability for getting pregnant after a vasectomy. I searched websites to be reminded of the symptoms of pregnancy. I searched for stories of others’ experiences with getting pregnant after a vasectomy. I searched to know how much time and money it would take to get a vasectomy reversal. I spent many hours online searching and searching and searching for these things.
All of this searching left me hungry and longing for something I couldn’t have.
I didn’t say much to anyone during this time. In scenarios like these, I tend to try and be brave by myself. I don’t like being vulnerable. I don’t enjoy sharing my weaknesses or deep desires. I don’t thrive on drama and I most certainly don’t enjoy when others pity or feel sorry for me. As a result, I often kept (and keep) most heavy or sensitive matters to myself.
Little did anyone know, I was slowly dying inside. Not really truly dying, but my heart was hurting with the intense ache and loss of not being able to be pregnant.
My womb remained empty.
It was a very long, dark, and lonely road during this season.
My preoccupation with being pregnant increased even more during the month of May.
I found out a college friend of mine became pregnant after 7 years of not having any babies! This renewed my hope that it really COULD happen! Though they did not have a vasectomy like we did, I was hopeful that we could be pregnant again, too.
My obsession only burned hotter and brighter.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I later noticed May 2011 marked the 5 year anniversary from when Papa had his vasectomy. Five years. Though I knew we had worked through our regret for having the vasectomy, I still couldn’t shake the greatness of this loss.
I felt like I should DO something.
May 19, 2011
As my desire to be pregnant continued to consume every part of me, I realized I wanted to do something. I don’t like waiting. But, we had learned from our past experiences and were ready to wait and hear the LORD’s direction for us. We didn’t want to do just anything, we wanted to do what the Lord was leading us to do.
I remember my Uncle describing years and years ago that “true repentance” is “being willing to do whatever it takes to make it right again.” Wow. Whatever it takes.
As we saw them, our options included:
Were will truly willing to do “whatever it takes?”
May 19, 2011 marks the day I sent out an email to close friends, family and also to our pastors to seek prayer and wisdom regarding the “next step.”
Below are a few excerpts from that email:
Today, I find myself always thinking about this loss. Not that we have physically lost children since that decision [to get a vasectomy], but we’ve lost the possibility of more wonderful children in our family. I think about it daily. <tears are streaming down my face>
BUT. BUT … I know that we serve a God who can do the impossible. He has parted waters of the sea, calmed storms, healed the blind, raised the dead, made the lame walk, defeated giants, protected from lions, multiplied food, sent fire from heaven, caused time to stand still … made it possible for Mary, Sarah and Elizabeth to be pregnant … I know HE is able!! I mean not this to sound cliche’ … but mean it with my whole heart and agree with His Word when it says … With God, ALL things are possible!!!
With this hope, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that something will happen and that our family will grow again. Somehow, someway, our family will grow.
We have prayed for God to do the impossible and to make it so we are able to have more children. We have opened our minds and hearts up to the possibility of adopting or fostering. We are open. Both Papa and I feel like our family is “not done” yet. What that looks like, I do not know. Even in saying, “our family isn’t done yet”, I am not sure why or how I can explain that feeling. I recently asked Papa WHY we feel we’re not done yet. Is it because the Lord is preparing us to have more children? Is it because He wants us to prepare our home and family for a future adoption/foster child? I am reminded of this clip from “Facing the Giants” in “preparing” to receive. Or, perhaps we feel this way because we want the Lord to bring “life” where there was “death”? Redemption? Healing? I don’t know that I know the answer to this question. Why. Why do we feel we are not done?
In response to our email, a friend of mine asked about the possibility of a reversal. I let her know what it would take to have it done (financially, physically, time, etc.). I also mentioned that “I’m scared to death to foster or adopt … but am open to it.”
She then asks me, “Why are you scared to foster or adopt?”
Scared to adopt/foster? Lots of reasons … scared what “issues” will come with them:
- scared how they’ll mesh with the family
- scared how our extended family will welcome them into our family
- scared what issues they’d teach our kids (lots and lots of anger and abuse issues in every realm here)
- scared it’ll just be too much and I can’t handle it
- scared we won’t love them as much as our biological
scared our other kids will feel neglected
- scared … for more reasons … but those are a good start.
Lots to think about. Not sure I can handle it … or that I want to handle it.
She simply replies, “I want to pray for you about your fears concerning adoption, I REALLY think it is such a wonderful thing … but I totally get the concerns but I want you to experience more freedom and less fear about it.”
More freedom. Less fear.
Those words jumped off of my laptop screen as I read them. More freedom, less fear. I quickly realized I had allowed myself to be in bondage over the idea of fostering or adopting. Most certainly, I had fed my fears concerning it.
Was I truly prepared to do “whatever it takes,” no matter where it leads or what it looks like?
Was I genuinely willing to open my heart and our home in a capacity that was far greater than I had ever thought or imagined?
Was this how God would eventually grow our family?
In recognizing the multitude of my fears for what they were (hindrances), my heart began to soften and change. A shift was taking place. Fostering and/or adopting children didn’t seem too far fetched as we looked down this unexpected turn in the road.
Confirm and confirm again, Lord!!!
Just as our Pastor prayed (in an email response to my May 19th email), I also prayed for the Lord to “confirm and confirm again” exactly what we were to do … and for us to “not to be anxious about anything” in the process.
Praise the Lord … HE answers and confirms!
May 22, 2011
During church, a gal shared about gathering in the flock. How we are to be bold and courageous and welcome in those who may be lost, wandering, or need help. I immediately thought about the “lost” children of the world. Those with no homes. Those without a healthy Mom or Dad. Those without a loving home. Those without a safe place to reside. Those who ultimately are without Christ.
My heart broke.
I cried out to the Lord that morning and said, “Lord, I’m not ready to care for other children!!” His (not audible, but very real) response, “No, you’re not ready, but you WILL be.” I cannot describe the peace that came upon me in that very moment. It was as if He had given me permission not to have it all together. What a relief. I could be where I was in that exact moment … but also know that in time, I had the hope I would indeed be ready. We would be ready.
May 23, 2011
It was a Monday. We had just been encouraged by the Lord the previous day during church (confirmation #1), so we began looking at this possible, yet unknown journey. We were trusting the Lord in His saying we would indeed be ready!
Being the studious person that I am (haha!), I went searching online for information. I wanted to find a local fostering/adoption company. It didn’t take long before I found a great resource. I called them and they directed me to a particular local gentleman. So, I called him and left a message.
That same day, I called a friend from church who had also looked into fostering/adopting previously and she gave me the name of a local gentleman. Turns out, it was the same gentleman the other company had directed me to call. I felt this was indeed confirmation. We were being led to the same person/place through 2 different avenues. 🙂
A random message came through Facebook from a friend we hadn’t seen for 9 or 10 years, encouraging us in our parenting. It came out of nowhere, but it was impeccable timing. God is good. When I began to doubt our ability to care for children from hard places, the Lord brought someone to encourage us in that exact area we needed encouragement. What amazing confirmation!
An unexpected $100 check came from someone to encourage us on our journey to becoming a foster family. ?
Praise the Lord, He was answering our prayers!
The Lord was confirming and confirming again … emotionally, spiritually, practically and financially … we could indeed walk this fostering journey. He was preparing the way.
Fears, anxiety and worry were very quickly fading away while excitement was gaining momentum as we were about to take our first real steps.
June 6, 2011
We ended up talking to the gentleman (Confirmation #2) and found out a new Foster Care Training session was just about to begin! Perfect timing. ?
In 19 short days, our hearts transformed from fear to faith, and we went from not knowing the next step, to actually taking our first step! We were beginning our training to become a Foster family. Eeek!
Though it all happened so very quickly, we were not anxious or fearful. The Lord was teaching us we could truly trust HIM and that in time, we would indeed be ready to welcome children into our family!!
After 3 months of training, paperwork, home studies, interviews, fingerprinting, background checks, financial reports, conversations and many many questions (primarily asked by me, Momma) … we were LICENSED!!!
We were now an official foster care family, ready and willing to nurture, love, teach, protect and keep children safe!!
The Lord said we would be ready … and He was right.
We were ready.
In the back of my mind, I had the movie quote from the Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” Well, here we were. We had “built” it, prepared ourselves, and were ready … and they were coming.
During the first month after being licensed we received a couple of phone calls from the Department of Human Resources (DHS). We were being asked if we would welcome some children into our home.
The first call was for 3 siblings ages 2, 6 and 7. In general, when we get a placement phone call, DHS is hopeful to get an answer in about 5-10 minutes. We have a very short window of time to decide whether or not to say “yes” to that placement/case. If we say “no,” they need to move along quickly to call the next potential foster family. Children (waiting for a foster family) are often simply sitting in the office until a home is found. Time is of the essence. In these short minutes, we have to rely heavily on the Lord to show us quickly how to respond.
As Papa and I prayed together over the phone regarding that first placement call, we were able to discern this was not the match for us. We couldn’t put our finger on why that was, until we prayed together. Papa was at work and I was huddled in our bedroom closet as we prayed together over the phone. During that prayer, the Lord brought to mind how it would be impossible for me to leave the house with all 7 kids (our 4 + 3 new kiddos). Our van only holds 7 people, total. In order for me to go anywhere, I would have to do it illegally (without all car seats/boosters and with double-buckling) with 8 people in the car. We knew the Lord was showing us in a very practical way it wasn’t the time to say “yes.” Praise the Lord for His leading … or rather, putting out the stop sign.
Just a week or so later on September 21, we received our second call. The phone call was similar to the first as we processed and prayed what to do, but we knew this was the one for us. A few days later, I was at the DHS office picking up the most adorable little 2 yr old boy and bringing him into our home. It was the very first time in my entire life I had ever seen another person’s child and instantly felt like I was his/her Mom. It was a strange feeling, but my Momma’s heart to love, care, protect, teach, train, and provide for a precious child welled up within me, even if it was to be just for a season.
What we had prayed, prepared, and planned for over the years, was actually coming to fruition. It’s an amazing feeling to know we are walking in obedience and trust. The Lord was (and is) using our gifts, our passions, our hurts, our struggles, our experiences and our faith to help and love children and their families. God had turned our personal pain into a way to be a blessing to others.
He was making beauty from ashes, and we were just getting started.
As I write this, it has been 5 1/2 years since that first placement call, and we are so very happy to share with you the little 2 yr old boy (our first placement) is now 8 years old. He is doing amazingly well. He is full of life and energy, is brilliant and creative, and is incredibly strong and active. He is in a safe, loving and healthy environment, praise the Lord!
The reason I know all of this, I am proud to say, is because he is now our son, Taz. 🙂
The Lord knew it all. Even when we couldn’t see it, He was weaving our story together.
In fact, we later realized how closely our story and timeline intertwined. The exact month and the exact year Papa and I wept with grief over our decision to permanently stop having more children, an amazing little baby boy was being born in another state. We didn’t know it at the time, but even in those early heart wrenching moments, the Lord was preparing us to meet our son, Taz.
I am thrilled to share with you, our hearts grew 5 sizes that day.
The Lord continues to expand our hearts with each precious child who enters our home. It’s true, love does multiply. There are often intense growing pains in the brokenness, but, there is growth and … more. More love, more joy, and more healing awaits around each corner. Sometimes, we simply need to change directions in order see more clearly.
Foster care is not the journey we had originally planned to take, but following the Lord is the most glorious journey of all. We have learned to wholeheartedly embrace how He directs our steps, so, we continue to step.
We welcome you to join us in the journey. Walk with us on the mountain tops, in the valleys, during the fruitful and dry seasons, and amidst the wonderful and difficult moments in our foster care adventures.
We do not know if or when our story will change directions, but we are in it as long as the Lord is leading us through it.
To God be the Glory!!