Recently, my dad reminded me that when I was an audacious teenager, I claimed I would never get married or have kids because they would hold me back from living a fun life. Of course, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby…or three, in a baby carriage.
Early in our marriage God had whispered the word “adoption” to both my husband and myself. Never completely ignoring the nudge, our family grew to five. In 2015, we had a fun year of traveling. We took trips to Disney World, Huntington Beach, Tennessee, and even a week at the lake in Michigan. After ten years of marriage and three beautiful healthy daughters, we found ourselves at a crossroads. That whisper was becoming louder and in spite of there never being a comfortable time to interrupt your life, we couldn't ignore the call.
On our hallway wall we have written, “Our Timeline.” Under those meaningful words are four frames, each filled with a picture of a milestone in our family. Do you know what’s uncomfortable? The fifth frame. The fifth frame is empty. That empty picture frame. On some days I see it and feel sorrow, on other days I feel frustration, but on many days I look at that empty frame and something physical happens. I get a chill or maybe a flutter in my stomach, because on many days I see that empty frame and I feel hope.
The reason the frame is empty is because the Lord has led us to adopt through foster care. Why foster care? Foster care because in the U.S. 400,000 kids need a family to love them and care for them. Foster care because 100,000 of those children are currently waiting for a family to forever love them and care for them.
Foster care is a unique outpouring of love. Children in foster care are orphans of the living. Many people have a passion stirred for orphans. Its fewer who have hearts stirred to minister to the parents, grandparents, social workers, therapists and anyone else in the game to help kids have a family and heal.
Children placed into foster care have had experiences with trauma and neglect. The truth is they have been hurt in relationships and the subsequent truth is that healing can only take place in relationships. What we have learned as foster parents is that these children need healing through relationship with us and we pray one day through a relationship with Jesus Christ. We have also seen how much healing their parents need, their grandparents and extended family.
We do not know if or when we will get to fill in the frame. On the days when a glimpse of that empty picture frame gives me a tinge of excitement, it’s because I know God is at work. He is at work in my life and my husband’s, in my daughters’ lives, in the lives of our foster babies and their family’s…and even though it’s had moments of discomfort, I get to have front row seats for some unbelievable occasions and I can’t help but wonder if my teenage self could ever know what she might have missed out on.
For us as a couple, adoption was uncharted territory. We had a destination without any notion of how to get there. By a miracle we will always be grateful for, in came, Nightlight Christian Adoptions. You can't imagine the varied questions that troubled me at the beginning. From fire extinguishers to legalities, I thought of it all. Nightlight had to get us on course and really supported us in those initial days.
There's no mistaking it, being a foster family is hard work. While we pour out to minister to those around us, Nightlight has come to our side and ministered to us. At every turn, our caseworker has been there with sweet encouragement, invaluable knowledge, practical resources, and honestly, unexpected friendship.