Last week's episode on the podcast was a chat with Crystal Ridley and Meg Scott about foster care. If you missed it, you should check it out here. If you've been paying attention then you know that my husband and I have had our own experiences with foster care. I thought I'd share with you how that adventure came about.
Since the beginning of our marriage, adoption had been on our hearts. After a few visits overseas we thought for sure that we would do an international adoption. Lee even wanted to adopt first before having biological children.
Fast-forward about five years into our marriage. I wanted to start growing our family but because we didn't meet some of the age restrictions for the country we had hoped to adopt from we decided to have biological children first and adopt later.
After having a miscarriage, however, I was discouraged. While I didn't blame God, I didn't quite understand how we could have waited as long as we did, feel the call to begin our family, and still struggle to stay pregnant. Didn't God want us to have kids?
During this time we moved back home to Arkansas for Lee's new job. One night, while Lee was out of town, I was wasting time on Facebook when an article caught my attention. It was about the foster care crisis in Arkansas, and specifically in our area. While I knew a bit about foster care (we knew a family who fostered in Fayetteville and then another set of friends who fostered in Louisville), I had no idea how bad it was in little old Fort Smith, AR.
After reading that article, I texted Lee to ask him to start praying about fostering. Amazingly, he texted back saying he had just listened to a sermon by Tony Merida about foster and adoption and he too felt the call on his heart to look into it. A few days after he got back in town we sat in on an information meeting with The CALL and our journey began.
During the four months it took to get our home opened, I experienced another miscarriage. This time was easier in some ways because I knew it was a possibility. It was also harder in some ways because it was an ectopic pregnancy. They caught it early enough that I didn't have to have surgery and no damage was done. I did, however, have to go into the doctor's office every week for a few months to make sure my hormone levels returned to normal. I got to sit in that waiting room with women who were getting their ultrasounds, or getting close to delivering, or returning with their precious babies for their post-natal appointments. It was hard. But God was quietly working on my heart and preparing it for the adventure we were about to begin.
On December 14, 2015, four days before my original due date, we opened our home. The day after that we took in two little girls. We were instant parents. A year and a half later we adopted them into our home forever.
It's funny looking back at how we thought things would turn out, and how they actually did. While the miscarriages were devastating, I know we wouldn't have opened our home to our oldest girls if the first hadn't happened. And we wouldn't have our youngest if the second miscarriage didn't happen.
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
While many may use Romans 8:28 to justify their beliefs in some twisted prosperity gospel, I know that it doesn't mean life is pain free. I know it doesn't mean that everything that happens is going to feel good in the moment. I know it does mean that God has a plan, and it is a perfect plan. I can trust in God's plan, and sometimes enjoy the blessing of seeing the "good" after the struggle.
Other times we don't really know why we have to walk through the struggles. Our story gave us three beautiful girls. There are many whose stories haven't worked out the same way.
And there are many children whose stories haven't worked out as ours have. You can look at the foster care system and see that it's nowhere near perfect. You could shrug your shoulders and assume there's nothing that could be done. But I doubt you could look into the eyes of a child who has experienced the trauma of being ripped away from his/her home and not feel called to do something.
In the podcast episode we talked about several ways to get involved in foster care even if you don't feel called to foster yourself. First, I want to challenge you with something. Don't assume you haven't been called. I was terrified of fostering and just assumed God hadn't called me to it. He did a major work in my heart, so I ask you to pray that he works in your heart to see how you can help.
Second, I want you to know that anything you do for a child in foster care is making a difference. No matter how small it may seem. Listen to the episode to get some ideas on how to help. Or if you know a foster parent, just ask them. We're all called to do something. So what is your calling?
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” - Psalm 82:3-4