Sunday, January 5, 2014
The Call to Foster
So many people have been asking about Adam and I becoming Foster Parents that I felt writing the experience and sharing it would be the best option. Recently going from a mom of 3 boys to a mom of 6 boys ranging in age from 7 years down to 14 months I have no idea how long it will take me to type this and hope to have it finished before they turn 18! It has been a long but incredible journey that the who, what, when, where and my favorite WHY can not be answered in a 5 minute conversation while wrangling 6 kiddos in wide open spaces. It is a journey that is near and dear to our hearts and most importantly a call that God has placed in our lives and he refused to let go unanswered. It is a call that we have answered in obedience and love, though we ourselves have had our doubts along the way, we are learning the over abundance of joy that comes with obeying and following Christ down paths you never planned for yourselves in life.
Rewind 11 years. Adam and I have laughed lately over a conversation that took place between us shortly after becoming engaged. We were driving to Dallas to one of my many doctor appointments. The topic of how many kids we wanted to had come up. Adam ONLY wanted 2 and I always wanted 4. My reply to his insistence on no more than 2 was "Well I'm sorry but that's a deal breaker. I feel it would be a mistake for you to marry me because I know I want a large family and JUST 2 kids is plain boring!" No offense to you 2 kid households out there, to each his own, but I still feel I would be horribly bored and just plain sad with only 2!
Obviously, we made a compromise! The compromise for Adam was 2 kids and a midget! This being because he has a stubborn streak that refuses to admit to a compromise. For me it was 3 children. I also must add we were making big plans even though I had been told by 2 Infertility Specialists that children would never be possible for me and that the only chance I had would be to do Invetro Fertilization. In case you didn't know IVF Therapy cost more than we've probably ever made in a year and we just never felt if that was are only option that it was something we should pursue. I always said, "God has placed a longing in my heart since I was 5 years old to grow up and take care of lots of babies... he will make me a mother one way or another." Honestly I never imagined it being BOTH ways.
Fast forward 2 years into our marriage. We were trying to get pregnant. My wonderful Christian OBGYN at Baylor Dallas (Dr. E) was holding our hand through the long journey of trying to get my ovaries to participate. After nearly a year of trying and taking fertility pills we agreed to do 3 rounds of a hormone shot. During this time I was working as a Teacher at a Daycare. I was the lead teacher in the 3 and 4 year old Pre-K class. This is where God began to pull my heart strings for Fostering. I do not consider it coincidence that I had 3 students in my class that were Foster Children. I hold the conversations I got to have with these Foster Parents and the experience with these kiddos near and dear to my heart to this day. We prayed that if after 3 shots there was no baby that God would lead us the direction he wanted us to go. Well, it only took 1 shot to get Trenten and the rest is history. After being told I would likely have no birth children of my own I have delivered 3 miracles and conceived 2 of those completely unplanned.
You would think after this journey alone and seeing God perform so many miracles large and small along the way that we would have faith that could move mountains and NEVER doubt God or put limits on what he can do. I guess that's where the human nature kicks in but I always find myself so disappointed in my lack of faith but so grateful for God continuing to mold both of us with new lessons and chapters of following and trusting in him alone not ourselves.
The next chapter of the call to Foster came when Jonah was 2 and we felt led that due to my complicated pregnancies we should continue growing our family through Foster/Adoption because the desire never left our hearts even after having Trenten and Jonah. We began the process through a Foster Agency a friend recommended out of the Ft. Worth/Arlington area. While beginning the paperwork process we learned that I was pregnant. We were shocked but excited and torn on what to do. Do we continue the Foster process or is this God telling us not yet? 12 weeks into the pregnancy I miscarried. At that time, I was in such a depressed state we contacted the Foster Agency and explained the situation and stopped the process. During this time God worked my heart and mind over through a church bus ministry and the infamous 7 who changed our family forever.
I was following my heart for teaching by teaching a 1st grade Sunday School class at FBC Malakoff where my entire family attended church. It was a season of God moving like I had never seen in the 10 years or so of being a member there. It was lead by our wonderful Pastor at the time Nathan Lorick. The church was holding block parties throughout the community and out of those block parties a bus ministry began that my Dad was one of the leaders of. In all my years as his daughter it was the first time I saw God capture his heart in such a way that helping these children and their families became his mission in life. It was amazing to witness and such a testament in the life of our family. I often thank God for this season before he called my Dad home to heaven and look back on the memories of riding the bus with him as some of the fondest memories I have.
To make a very long story short, a group of 8 siblings from a blended family, that were a major part of the bus ministry, were removed by CPS for abuse and neglect. My parents felt the call to take all of them in. CPS placed 7 of them with my parents who were in their early 50's at the time. 4 boys and 3 girls ranging in ages from 4-11 years old. Many thought my parents were crazy but they followed through with following God's calling in their lives regardless. I worried over them having the patience and ability to handle 7 and a wise Pastor's wife Jenna Lorick told me, "if God calls you he will equip you.." and that really struck my heart and stuck with me. It made me analyze my own life and what God wanted from us that I repeatedly put on hold for my own fears of being unequipped.
My Dad passed away in May 2011 about a year in to caring for the 7. CPS removed the 4 boys from my mom because 7 was 2 more than she was legally allowed to care for on her own. Adam and I contacted their case worker and tried to get them. At the end of the day our house was too small by state regulations to take in 4 more in addition to the 2 boys we had and the 1 I was due to have in a matter of months. It angered Adam and I beyond measure that they could live in a 2 room shack with no lights, running water, heat or food but a loving home that was a little cramped was unacceptable. I really struggled with this and wrestled with God over why he would place something so heavy on our hearts if it just wasn't possible! Yes, some more "oh' ye of little faith" moments for sure. Our Pastor Nathan advised us, "If the only thing stopping you is a house, pray for a bigger house and have the faith that God will deliver."
I have to admit, Adam and I both discussed how crazy he was. "Who is going to just offer us a house big enough for Fostering plus our own within our budget?" This was some serious dreaming big! We prayed and we prayed and we prayed.... and God delivered. Only 3 short months later out of no where we were offered the City house in Chandler within our budget and large enough to fit a small village of children in. I am daily in awe of how God provided and continues to provide for us to make all of this possible. We began the Fostering process once again, this time through Azleway Inc. a Christian agency my parents certified through locally that we never knew existed until then. It took us forever because of hurdles like me finishing my degree and Student Teaching 5 days a week and having surgery etc. Yet, God faithfully delivered us through every hurdle and obstacle.
We became Foster Certified in October 2013 and decided to wait for any placements until December 6th my last day of Student Teaching. I graduated December 14th and by that point I was discouraged that we hadn't received a call for placements, Adam kept saying, "They will call! It's only been X amount of days." Boy did they ever! On December 20th we received our first placement. They called with 3 available. We told them we couldn't choose which ones. So, they put us in for all 3 and we got 1. We were so excited and so blessed beyond our wildest dreams. Then, on December 31st they called saying the other 2 still needed a place. Once again, we felt our job is to say yes and God will sort out the rest. Most of you know the rest of the story that our house is running over with 6 little blessings.
It isn't easy. It is the most challenging thing we have ever done. I venture to say this would be impossible without God. I cling to the verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" daily. My husband is amazing and I am wowed daily at how God works through him providing him with amounts of patience I have never seen before. He is so supportive and encouraging and if anything I feel this experience so far has strengthened our relationship. I hunger for my time with God daily and thirst for his scriptures to provide me with strength for each day and encouragement when the sceptics come calling.
I know it may seem crazy to many and I also know this life wouldn't be for everyone but it is for us. We are experiencing God and his joy, love, peace and blessings beyond anything we have ever known. My dad told me, "Do what God calls you to do and you will experience Joy that you have never known before." In the back of my mind I thought, "How does 7 kids in your 50's equate to Joy you have never known before?" Now, I know. So I challenge you to look at your life and the life of your family and seek how you can follow God this year? How can you or you as a family answer his call? How can you serve? How can you love? It may not be Foster parenting but it has to be something and we are never to young or to old to serve the Lord! If it is Fostering or Adopting and you are looking for an agency to help walk you through the process I whole heartedly recommend Azleway. They have been amazing and we are so thankful for the go between with us and CPS it is extremely helpful especially to a couple of Newbies!
Azleway Tyler Texas: 903-566-8444 Main number for Info.