Because we have adopted seven children we truly have seven unique adoption stories. So, while adoption is a family matter I have decided to take this opportunity to tell the story of my own heart and the process it took to become an adoptive mother.
As a young woman, I became pregnant the first and second years of our marriage. We lost both of those babies, a little boy and a little girl, Jacob and Tessie. We never expected that we would never again be pregnant. It was a decade later that we found ourselves discouraged and feeling betrayed by our own bodies. Trying to come o grips with the fact that being parents was not to be a part of our future, I felt the shame that every woman who faces infertility feels. My body was defective, God could have changed that, but, He hadn’t. We had even attempted a private adoption that had been a very costly failure, both monetarily and financially. We felt that our fate was sealed.
When we decided to become foster parents, we were cautioned by practically everyone we knew. This was bound to lead to heartache, a series of heartaches to be more specific. Loving other people’s children, letting them go again would be too painful. But, we were determined to proceed, no matter the risk. Not because we were saints or martyrs or superheroes, but, because our eyes had been opened to a great need. It was simple, I would often say, a matter of one possibility outweighing the other. The possibility of us helping a hurting child outweighed the possibility of us being hurt ourselves. If you could only see it as I did (and do) it would be just as simple to understand.
Imagine that you saw a child entangled in a hedge of briars with ominous thorns all around them. The safest thing for you to do would be to walk away and leave it to the experts. I wasn’t willing to look away and play it safe. I equipped myself as best as I could with training and support. But, I could never allow the thought of a scratch, even a painful bleeding wound, divert me from the child in danger. So many people have told me that they wonder how we have done what we have done. I am just as amazed that everyone is not doing the exact same thing. I could not pretend I do not see what I did so clearly see.
I understand completely that not everyone is called to foster or adopt just as not everyone is called to teach or pastor or be a doctor or a missionary. There are many paths to walk in this life and whatever your path is, you should walk with purpose and passion. We had found our path and for fifteen years we fostered forty-five children. Out of those forty-five, we adopted seven, whom we are still raising today. That means that thirty-eight children came and left again. The friends and family who had cautioned us were right, it was a series of heartaches, I’m not going to pretend otherwise. But, then, we were right too. The possibility of us helping a hurting child outweighed the possibility of us being hurt ourselves.
When we became foster parents, we never dreamed that we would eventually adopt seven children. After our first adoption I was totally satisfied and felt that an impossible dream had come true. One thing that I have learned in my years of walking after Jesus, His plans for me always go far beyond anything I could ever hope or dream. You’ll find the same to be true if you decide to abandon your own path to follow Him. He will take you on adventure that will take your breath away.
Although we are no longer fostering as we devote our time and energies into the seven we adopted, my heart still squeezes at the thought of so many children entangled in dysfunctional families, perhaps even abusive and trapped in a broken system that sometimes makes matters worse even with sincere attempts to make matters better. I don’t believe that we are done. As a matter of fact, I believe we’ve only just begun.
I hope to be an advocate for foster-adoptions. I hope to inspire others to consider adopting older children (like our son who came to us at eight years old). I hope to encourage others to consider adopting sibling groups (like our girls). I hope to persuade others to consider adopting children who don’t have the same color skin, that have special needs, that seem un-adoptable in the eyes of most who see them. I hope to write a book called ‘Adoptability’ and a series of children’s books based on our homestead that will help children in transition. I hope to have a group of homes, safe places, where children can find love and stability. I hope to live my life taking as many risks as I possibly can, giving love every opportunity I possibly can, touching as many lives as I can.
That is my adoption story. That is how I became an adoptive mom of seven, the foster mom of forty-five, the spiritual mom of many. There are days when I still get overwhelmed and wish more than anything that I had more energy, money and time. There are days when I am made starkly aware of my own limitations, my own failings and my own shortcomings. But, about that time I catch a glimpse of a child full of both potential and pain. I see the entangled emotions and the ominous thorns. I understand clearly that this encounter may lead to some wounds and scars. I could walk away, play it safe and say a prayer or I can grit my teeth, reach in to touch a heart and plant a seed of love. I won’t always see the fully developed result of my efforts, but, I can do my best, trust God with the rest and remind myself of what I believe. IN THE END, LOVE WINS.