Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 18

Not long ago, I met a friend here, on this little slice of the blogosphere. Her name is Jami and she is funny and real and wonderful. She has experienced the blessing of biological children and adoption and is currently experiencing the unexpected blessing of foster parenting.

I hang on her words, which have inspired and humbled me, many times over.

And, I'll be honest, her six Little people put my three into perspective, but quick.

Jami blogs here and shares with us, from her heart, below.

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I never thought my life would look the way it does. I never expected to be an adoptive mom and especially not a foster mom! The Lord has blessed me abundantly by giving my husband and I the opportunity to have two birth daughters, one son who we adopted, and three foster kiddos! Our kids are 7, 5, and 4 and we are fostering a sibling group of three, ages 3, 3, (no they are not twins, just 10 ½ months apart!) and 1! Whew!

Our journey to foster care was born out of a season of waiting and loss. In every sense, we had to experience the death of our dream in order to understand what His best for us really was. You see, after adopting our son from Guatemala, we knew we wanted to adopt again but Guatemala had closed it’s doors to adoption. Because of this, we found ourselves in the domestic adoption process.

Everything changed back in May of 2009 when I received a call from my sister. “Jami, a baby girl with Down Syndrome was abandoned at the hospital and she needs a forever family. Will you pray that her family will be found soon!”

I was happy to pray until I felt the Lord saying, “What if you are to be her family?” That thought terrified me and yet the Lord turned our hearts around in a matter of two days. He took my heart of fear and filled it with faith and desire. We wanted this sweet baby girl and we were ready to adopt her but then God said “not now.” I will never forget the day we found out that another family was going to adopt her. I fell on my bed and called my husband and begged him to come home. “I need you,” I told him through my sobs.

Days later, we were on our knees again praying about a baby who had been exposed to alcohol in the womb. God asked “Are you willing? Do you trust Me more than your fears?” Once again, the Lord changed our hearts and we hoped that this birthmother would choose us, but she didn’t.

Months went by and the Lord continued to stretch us with the question, “Do you trust Me more?” Many birthmothers looked at our profile and they all chose other families. I would get my hopes up each time and every “no“ stung.

In November of the same year, we were expectantly waiting to hear from another birth mom. I really believed that this was our time, and it was, just in a way I didn’t expect.

That day was like any other, I had just returned from the grocery store, tired and crabby! Grocery bags were strewn all over my kitchen floor but I decided to sit down and check my email before putting anything away. When I saw the email from our caseworker, I was absolutely devastated when I realized we hadn’t been chosen. Again.

I cried out to the Lord with questions on my heart. “I don’t understand, Lord. This hurts too badly and it just doesn’t make sense to me. Jesus, I need Your perspective.” And in a very gentle way, I heard Him tell me, “It’s not about you.”

His words gave me a glimmer of hope as my thoughts drifted to the radio broadcast I had just heard that morning about “waiting children.” (These are the kids in foster care whose parents have given up their rights to them. If these children are not adopted, they will age out of the system at age 18, and be one their own with no one to call family.)

Over the next few days, our perspective changed as we felt Him saying, “It’s not about bringing a child to your family, it’s about bringing your family to a child.”

Days later, we found three kids on a photo listing site online who needed a forever family. When I saw the kids, I called Clint and told him “I just found kids on the internet.” Thinking our kids were playing on the computer, he responded “Well, did you discipline them?” But after clarifying the situation (ahem), we both decided that the Lord was indeed leading us to pursue adopting them.

So we contacted their social worker and shared our hearts, and prayed and hoped that they would be ours, but that door seemed to be closing. Knowing that we needed to complete Illinois state mandated training before being able to adopt out of the system, we decided to enroll in those classes and during those eight weeks (27 hours total), the Lord opened our eyes to the great need for foster parents.

Two days after completely our training, we received a call about two little brothers (3 and 1) who needed a foster home and we knew that our time had finally come! A week later, I was pacing the floor waiting for the caseworker to pull into our driveway and as I looked at the boys for the first time, I was able to tell them, “We’ve been waiting for you!”

The first thing our 7 year old daughter asked 3 year old “D” was “Do you know Jesus?” He stared at her blankly then but now sings “Jesus Loves Me” with the best of em’! Five months later, D and B’s two year old sister, L, joined our clan making us a family of eight!

Foster care has changed us all. We have been stretched and challenged to the core. We have made many mistakes and cried out to the Lord for wisdom and grace as we try to parent and love on all six of the children He’s given us. It is an emotional ride to be sure. There are times when I desperately wish things would go back to “normal.“ Times when I wish I could wrap my children up in my arms and hide from the “big bad world.“ I feel exposed. I struggle with discernment as we try to love their parents as well, am I being selfish with my time or setting healthy boundaries?

As our bond deepens with these kids, I simply can’t imagine sending them back into an unhealthy situation. I am not their mommy and yet, it feels like I am. I am not their mommy, but I must love them like they are mine.

I don’t know all the answers but I do know that we are right where we are supposed to be. And when it’s hard, I must remember that “It’s not about me.” No matter if these kids become ours through adoption or go back to their parents, I will trust my Jesus, the One who called us to this foster care journey and the One who promises to faithfully lead us one step at a time.

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Join me here next Wednesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 19

(To catch up on Chapters 1-17, click here and start from the bottom.)

14 comments:

  1. I feel so very small after reading this.

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  2. Flower Patch Girl I just re-found your blog and so wish we could sit over a fun lunch and just talk and talk because you are a kindred spirit, I can tell. Looking forward to reading your posts. You are precious.

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  3. so cool to read. i never thought we would adopt and then the Lord led us to do so...and led us to adopt a little boy with Down Syndrome. then we prayed, Okay, Lord, how? and it was thru the foster system. our son was just waiting for us to come and get him. out of the 1,ooos of kids in the system of CA, he was the only little boy with DS. he was 3 at the time. 8 months later his sister was given to us as well--as a 6 month old baby--the 1st child out of obedience and joy--the 2nd, an unexpected gift of grace. i hope to write about it sometime. God is so good!

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  4. I am honored to read her story. I love a story where Jesus is the star!

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  5. "We've been waiting for you!" What precious words to greet those littles with. Love her story.

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  6. Great story! It totally captures the spirit of Thanksgiving for ALL our blessings!

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  7. Ky summed it up perfectly for me in her comment....I feel very small as well. What a wonderful story, and I can see you and Jami are two peas in a pod.
    Thanks for sharing her with us, Shannan.

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  8. I enjoyed her story so much! I felt her pain and then the joy each step of the way. It is so true it is not about us, but HIM! I ask myself also, "Do I trust HIM more." I love when someone steps out of the boat and keeps their eyes on Jesus.

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  9. Aw girls - you are so sweet! You have encouraged me! It is good for me to remember the story behind why we're doing what we're doing because when it's hard (and it has been lately!), I can be sure that God has called us to this and He will equip me.

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  10. My husband and I were foster parents. It's interesting how everyone experiences fostering so differently. (To read an interview I recently did, go to: http://bit.ly/g2AXLE)

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  11. Thanks for this chapter. We are struggling with much the same thing right now...waiting for domestic, thinking about foster care. Good to hear from another mom who is living it.

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  12. Oh dear every single week I cry. What a true testament she shared & what wonderful people. We haven't been called to this purpose, but I wonder some day if we will be.

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  13. As always, love these postings on adoption....and now foster care. My favorite part "It's not about me/us." Such a difficult perspective to maintain, but what a blessing to many kiddos when families can get to that point. I've long wanted to foster but the hub was honest from the beginning that fostering is not something he really wants to do for past personal reasons. Always hopeful yet respectful of his heart on the matter. Thanks again for posting and sharing.

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