I need to begin this post by explaining some things from the past…
When we decided to have children, OUR plan was to get pregnant. As most of you already know, that didn’t work. However, a child was growing in us…in our hearts. God had a different plan. After much prayer, we decided to explore adoption when we still had other fertility options we could have explored. God planted a seed in our hearts and it grew. It grew into a passion for adoption. And adoption has blessed us in more ways than just with Tate. It changed both of our hearts forever.
In the beginning, we had decided that an open adoption was not for us. We thought that would be a situation that wouldn’t fit for us. We really just weren’t educated enough on the subject. Boy, were we wrong! We have been blessed with the most amazing open adoption. Tate has an incredible birth family and gets to feel that love they have for him first hand. We let God take over our adoption story and He worked on our hearts in ways we never knew He could.
Sometime shortly after Tate’s adoption, I learned of an old friend who was going to become a foster father and ended up adopting a son. I remember thinking what an amazing man he was to do that and how hard that must be and how we could never do that. I wished we could, but I just knew that being a foster family wasn’t a good fit for us.
From the time that Tate was only a few months old, I prayed every single day that God would give Tate a sibling (or 2 or 3!) and us more children. I cannot imagine having grown up without my siblings and I wanted that for Tate. I prayed that whatever way God wanted to bless us with more children, we would follow His will.
When Tate was around 2 years old, we decided to start the adoption process internationally. We spoke with an agency about adopting from Ethiopia, paid our first fee and jumped in with both feet. This was how we had decided we were to grow our family this time. I will never forget the moment that my heart changed. It wasn’t that I no longer wanted a child, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to adopt internationally, it was something I cannot explain. I felt God telling us, “not now, not this way.” Although, it was hard to make the decision to put a halt on our journey to adopt from Ethiopia, we made the decision that we needed to. Sean felt it too.
The last 2 ½ years since then have been a struggle for us in many ways. Between job changes, moving more than once, moving out of Des Moines, financial struggles, dealing with Tate’s sensory issues and just trying to get settled, we realized that our decision to wait was the right one. However, I still prayed every day that God would show us how we were to grow our family. I would go through times of peace and calm knowing that our little family of 3 was enough for me and then I’d have days when I actually felt a physical pain in my heart because I wanted another child so desperately. I have always known that God had a plan, I was being impatient…I wanted Him to reveal this plan to us sooner rather than later.
About a year ago I photographed a family who had some experience as a foster family and got a very small amount of information about it and my interest was perked, but still I knew that being a foster family just wasn’t going to be a good fit for us. Things in our life were lining up, we were feeling like things were going so well for us that we were pretty happy with the way life was. We could handle waiting until Sean completed Anesthesia school before growing our family. We had started to accept that and actually feel fine about it.
Just when WE had a plan at how our life was going to go over the next several years, God stepped in and reminded us that WE are not in control of our lives…HE is! Oops…we forgot about that for a minute I guess.
Several weeks ago, I photographed a couple of children who I fell in love with. They were 4 and 18 months and I truly wanted to take them home with me. They were foster children. I won’t go into any detail about their story, but I told Sean that day that if these 2 children needed to be adopted (it was still up in the air if they would or not), that I wanted them. I wanted to adopt them. We spent the weekend discussing it and to my surprise, Sean was all in. I know that God worked in his heart that weekend because from that weekend on, so much has happened. We immediately contacted Iowa KidsNet and got our information packet to become a foster family. We knew that these 2 children were the reason we were doing this. WE had a plan. We wanted to be ready if they became available for adoption. We wanted to be approved to adopt them when that day came and if they ended up going to relatives instead, than we would know that God didn’t intend for them to be part of our family. We scheduled our first class and started to talk a lot about the possibility of having two new children if that’s what God intended for us.
Slowly over the course of the next few weeks, we did much praying, research and talking. We learned more about becoming a foster family…although that wasn’t OUR plan. We just wanted the 2 kids we hoped to adopt. Oops…we forgot again. WE aren’t in control of our life. OUR plans aren’t always God’s plans. One afternoon, the conversation of “what if these kids don’t end up needing adopted? What are we going to do then?” came up. It’s almost like both of us just KNEW that we weren’t going to stop. Maybe this whole ‘becoming a foster family’ WAS a good fit for us. We both agreed, we were going to let God decide who our kids (whether foster children or children we adopt) will be. We have so much love to give and we want to give it to any child that comes into our home. All children deserve a loving family and we know we can be that family whether it’s temporary or forever.
It wasn’t a week after that decision was made that we got the news that the 2 children who I fell in love with would be returning to relatives to be cared for. I know that we could have loved those kids so deeply and provided the loving family and home for them that they deserve. Only God knows what is best for them and we were obviously not meant to be their forever family. I pray for them every day and will continue to do so. I am not going to say I am at complete peace with this news. I was so extremely disappointed, but I know that God made me feel for those kids the way that I do because it was what our family needed to take this next step.
So here we are…we are becoming a foster family. We are nervous and excited and anxious, but we are putting it ALL in God’s hands. He so obviously has been working on our hearts in regards to this for years and now we can see that. We are open to adopting a child or children if the situation presents itself while we are fostering. There are so many details to be worked out. We have much prayer to do before making many decisions.
What we know as of now is that we feel as though fostering children of Tate’s age or younger would be best for us at this time. We will likely not be approved (because of regulations in regards to the amount of bedroom space required for each child) to foster a sibling group of more than 2 at a time. We are considering what is best not only for Sean and I, but also what is best for Tate. We whole heartedly believe that God has guided us on this path and that it is going to bless and change us in so many ways just as Tate’s adoption did.
We also know that many people won’t agree or approve of our decision to do this…just like there are still MANY people who think our open adoption was not the right choice. We disagree. We are living it and couldn’t be more blessed by our situation with Tate and his birth family (LOVE you guys!). You just can’t please everyone. There will always be people who disagree with our decisions no matter what. Tate’s well-being is of the utmost importance to us and we would never do anything to jeopardize that.
We are not naïve to the fact that this is going to be HARD. I am not good at ‘guarding my heart’ when it comes to children. I jump in with both feet. I will advocate for these children whom we foster, that’s for sure. I am so scared of how hard this will be. However, at the same time, I believe God is doing something in our hearts here and we are not going to fight it. I also believe that this is going to get us one step closer to our next children.
What about the possibility of us moving for Sean’s Anesthesia school, you ask? We are going to go about this AND Sean going to Anesthesia school just like we always planned. We believe that God is orchestrating this whole thing and all will work out. Sean has plans to possibly apply to a couple of Anesthesia schools this summer, but would really hope to attend the University of Iowa. He would be unable to even apply at the University of Iowa until a year from now (due to work experience requirements) and then wouldn’t start there until 2013 if accepted. Even if he does get accepted to a program out of state that he applies for this summer, he won’t know until this coming winter and even then wouldn’t be starting for possibly at least a year from now…and that’s the earliest scenario. If we have to move for him to attend school, that’s what we will do. However, we cannot continue to make decisions according to “what if this happens” or “what if that happens”. We are letting God work out all of the details. He’s surprised us before and we know it won’t be the last time!
It’s so amazing to be able to look back on your life and recognize all of the seeds God plants throughout the way that you had no idea He was planting at the time. To be able to see those seeds growing into something in my heart that I never dreamed would be growing there gives me so much more peace and comfort in surrendering all to Him. What He has done in our family is beyond my wildest dreams. I cannot wait to see what more He is going to do with this family of mine!