I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for months, even before knowing it was National Adoption Awareness Month, but I honestly almost backed out because I found myself thinking, “My words aren’t going to change any of their thinking, so why even waste my time?” But then I had another thought immediately after: “Waste my time? There are lives on the line here. Real, living people. And I am an advocate for them.” So, here I am, praying my words will inspire even just one person to move. To make a difference.
If you don’t have time to read this giant post, scroll toward the bottom and find the reason you think you’re not enough. See if I can help encourage you out of that.
As some of you know, my husband and I began this adventure of fostering-to-adopt after finding out we could not have any biological kids. For those who don’t know that story, you can read the full story here.
This desire was not necessarily to make a change in the orphan crisis, but rather to fulfill my desire to become a mom. I quickly realized, though, that once you’re in it, you simply cannot stop thinking about all the other beautiful lives that are waiting to have the same opportunity that mine now have. It created an urgency in my heart to show people this same need and watch them take action with me.
This first started to unfold in my heart with the desire to foster/adopt even more children. We are currently waiting to finalize the adoption of our four kids and after that will prayerfully open up our home again. If this is in the form of foster care or adoption, I’m not sure. I just know there will be more.
The second way this started to unfold was with a passion that ignited in me. A passion to begin advocating for the children who are waiting for a home to want them, love them, and let them know how absolutely precious they are. I am still feeling out this passion, seeking the Lord, and trying to figure out which direction to take it. I know that you cannot make anyone foster or adopt. People will give you every excuse in the book as to why they can’t do it. But I want to take this passion somewhere and do something more. I want to find a way to reach and inspire people to be a part of this.
The third way was that I began to feel angry. Why? Because adoptive parents shouldn’t look so unique to the world. Especially in the church. We shouldn’t look like saints, angels, saviors, or whatever anyone else wants to call us. As Christian’s, we should be seeing families all throughout our church that are joyfully opening their hearts, lives, and homes to these precious kids that have not had a fair chance at life. Those numbers of waiting children should be way lower. Why does my family stand out? Why is it so hard to find someone who understands parenting children with trauma and find the support system we need to navigate these difficult waters? Our church should be full of that kind of support because the church should be obeying the Lord when he tells us to look after the orphans and the widows. I don’t believe this is optional.
Yet, all throughout, I hear, “Oh, I could never do that.”, “You’re so amazing for doing this – I sure couldn’t.”, “I thought about doing it but I couldn’t bear it.”, “You must be a saint.”, “My kids would never be okay with us being foster parents.”, “My husband/wife won’t agree.” and on and on.
Yet, James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” and Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
I firmly believe that my specific purpose is to do this. I see no other reason that the Lord would have chosen me and Drew to hold the title “infertile” if it wasn’t for this very reason. I also believe that other people have different purposes beyond this. I get that. I’m not trying to say mine is better than yours. But I also know that, as Christian’s, our purpose should line up with one main goal: to become more like Christ, to serve Him, and glorify Him with our lives.
Here’s one characteristic I know about Christ: He loves children. All over in scripture it speaks about how Jesus said to let the little children come to Him, that if anyone causes a little one to stumble it’d be better if a millstone was hung from their neck and thrown into the sea, that children are a gift from God, how He, Himself, is a Father to the fatherless and how He sets the lonely in families.
Mark 9:35-37: “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.'”
I kept verse 35 in there because fostering/adopting requires us to put ourselves last all the time. But then again, doesn’t all parenting, biological or not? He never said any of this would be easy but He did say to do it.
So here’s my question… What is holding you back? Why do you feel like you’re not enough? What is your excuse for why you could never do this? Why are you not stepping forward to give a life a loving home?
It’s too expensive.
Adoption is very expensive, yes. But did you know foster care is not? In fact, foster care reimburses you generously. Any costs incurred from the process, from what you need to provide for the kids, for travel, for clothes, for gas, medical… They cover it all. And more. Fostering has allowed me to stay home and just be mom to my children and we have more money coming in now, because of reimbursements, than we did before I quit my job. I don’t feel comfortable posting the numbers on a public blog, but if you’d like to know the realities of this to see if it’d work for your family, please contact me. We can chat. I will be completely honest with you.
Adoption out of the foster care system is also completely free. If you have any upfront charges, they are reimbursed. They have so many incentives to get people involved in this process, yet so many still say no because “it costs too much”. Quit buying into that lie.
As far as the costs of adoption, YES, it is so expensive. Infant adoption, especially, is very unpredictable, so the financial aspect is terrifying. But there are so many grants out there, fundraising opportunities, and I’m sure a community that could pull together to help you out. I’ve seen this done. Or quit living beyond your means. Quit grabbing those $5+ coffees everyday, quit popping $1.50 in the soda machines at work, cancel a few subscriptions, quit eating out so often, quit accumulating more unnecessary debt, and save all of this extra cash. It all adds up. Even if it takes several years, start taking action today.
And if that still seems too hard, pursue adopting out of the foster care system. This is free to you, reimburses you, and reimbursements continue until that child is 18. There are no financial excuses valid enough to say no to fostering.
We spent around $150 for training, all 40 dollars here, 20 dollars there, which is trivial in the grand scheme of things.
I want to do foster care, but I don’t think I’d be able to let that child return into the system after I’ve become attached… I think my heart would break.
This is a valid fear. It’s one of mine, too. But here’s the thing… Whose pain do you think is worse? Your’s? Or their’s – a child who didn’t ask for any of this, who, for the chance at a somewhat mentally healthy life, needs to know that they are wanted, loved, and chosen by you. A child who may never see the way a family is supposed to treat and love one another. A child who may never have the arms of someone to fall into when the weight of their sorrow is too heavy to carry on their own. A child who may never know what it’s like to have someone truly care and want to listen to what’s on their heart. They need you.
Do you really think they deserve to go without all of that so that you can continue to live inside your comfortable bubble? Or do you think it’s worth a little pain on your end to alleviate a little bit of theirs?
I’m not cut out for it. I’m not patient enough. I’m not compassionate enough. I’m not strong enough. My personality type doesn’t fit.
I’ve realized that, as a flawed human, I’m really not cut out for this, either. It is so stinkin’ hard. It has awakened emotions in me I was never prepared for. I’ve realized that being a mom is way harder than I ever imagined and, in reality, this is not my strong suit. In fact, I’m pretty sure I stink at this most days.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Our weaknesses, when we allow the Lord to work on us, glorify Christ and His power. His power, as said above, is made perfect in our weakness. Allow Him to grow you through this experience, because this is exactly what He asks of us. We were never told to do it alone and we were also never told to stay where we are with our weaknesses. One day, our weakness will be something we’re good at, and we’ll be able to move onto our next weakness. The Lord can do that in any of your weaknesses that you say is holding you back.
I told someone the other day that there is really nothing that makes you realize you need God more than doing foster care. And that’s because it isn’t done through our strength – it’s done resting on His.
I’ve already finished raising my children… Why would I want to start over?
Perfect! You’re exactly who someone needs. You’ve already walked the parenting roads of infancy, three-nagers, tweens, teens, and now allowed your adults to fly on their own. You now have the experience to do it all over again and probably be more patient this time around. Don’t feel like you have the energy to dedicate the next several years? Well, there are so many older children waiting to find a home to accept them. You’d be perfect. And hey, you’d maybe be super perfect for the extra rebellious ones because you don’t have to worry about the influence they’d have on younger kids!
And I bet you have those extra rooms now, too.
This life really isn’t about us. It isn’t about retiring well, vacationing to all your dream locations, and “finally” getting to just focus on yourself. This life is about honoring Christ and living a life in full submission to His will and plan.
I already have kids… And they’d be really upset if we added new kids. Especially “bad” kids! It’d turn their whole world upside down.
Having kids already is perfect for this. Kids need to learn how to function appropriately inside of a family unit and to have ready-made siblings who have already been raised this way will be perfect. Yes, it’s also extremely difficult because you have to break up more fights, relationships may feel strained because your biological child doesn’t get along with your adopted child, you will have to struggle between the natural bond you have with your biological child vs. the forming, sometimes forced, bond you have with your adopted child, etc. Those are all very valid concerns, as well, but certainly not enough to keep you off the path of adoption/fostering. We’re all given difficult circumstances to shape and mold us into mature adults – think of this as one more extreme challenge for both you and your children.
As far as your children’s world being turned upside down… It’s important to not put so much emphasis on that. Your children do not get to dictate what the Lord has called you to do. We’re born as selfish humans and it is now our jobs, as parents, to teach our children what selflessness is. And, from the experiences I’ve seen, adoption and foster care has a beautiful way of softening other children’s hearts to the needs around them and often can awake the desire in them to make these kind of choices themselves. Don’t rob them of that opportunity!
The foster care system is corrupt and I could not possibly live under that!
Oh boy. This one I get. I get it perfectly. Who wants to live under a microscope, answering for every choice you make, filling out dozens of pages of paperwork a month, be subject to the states rules and regulations of parenting, have surprise visits to their home they already struggle to keep up with, deal with the “dreaded” social workers who have such a bad rep… I know, I know.
I’m currently filling out, by hand, a minimum of 17 pages a month, along with keeping daily documentation about my children’s behaviors which is required by the private agency I go through, and have a case manager/social worker in my home a minimum of three times a month. My water is too cold because I have to make my license agency happy by meeting their requirements, I have to buy a new fire extinguisher every year even though it hasn’t expired, I have my fridge inspected all the time, my house is walked through at each visit to make sure it’s safe, and I’m “interviewed” at least 3 times a month on how I parent and what I am doing about my children’s behaviors/needs. My social worker gets to call the shots on when/if my kids get their hair cut, I can’t cross state lines without a judge’s approval, and I’m not able to feel like a normal parent at this time in my life.
But that’s all okay. Why? Because on the other side of all the rules are four lives that get to feel my love, my acceptance, feel wanted, safe, and as much as they can… normal. And every last bit of it is all worth it because life is so much more important than my comfort or any conveniences.
My spouse won’t budge. They just won’t do it.
You can’t change your spouse and obviously you can’t go into this without their committed approval. So start praying for their heart to change. Don’t lose your passion for it as you wait. In the meantime, research trauma, find ways to help other foster/adoptive parents, educate yourself… Don’t just give up because your spouse tells you no. Present scripture to them and keep praying.
I don’t have the skills necessary to parent trauma kids, kids with special needs, kids who have been exposed to and exhibit sexual behavior, etc.
There is nothing that says you have to foster/adopt children with extreme special needs. Yes, that can require special skills and care, require that you live in a community that can meet that child’s needs, and so on. You can say no to certain placements, you can say no to certain needs, and tell them what you’re willing to take on. You, absolutely, have the say in who you will take.
For behaviors that scare you, there is support and help for any kind of behavior you come upon. Some are more difficult than others, but most of these behaviors do not come as a surprise in the foster care/adoptive system. And yes, so many of them are terrifying. But help is available and this is not something you have to go about alone. I promise that making the difference in the life of a child with these severe or scary needs makes it worth it. Even if you don’t see how worth it is here on earth… You’ll know when you reach those gates of heaven and you hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant…” and all the years of difficulties will suddenly fade away….
And yes, trauma you cannot avoid. However, there is no shortage of education out there for this and you’re actually required to educate yourself on this. No need to worry – help is on the way! In fact, if you do some looking back on your own life, you’ll most likely quickly see that you, yourself, have faced trauma, or dealt with in in other peoples lives, and realize that it’s really all around you. Simply avoiding adoption or foster care will not keep trauma from your life.
I plan on it someday…
Today is someday. Quit waiting. Now is your day. That’s like saying you’ll start a diet on Monday. We both know that doesn’t work. We have to start now.
I know there are probably a billion more reasons you can come up with for why you can’t do this… Why you’re not enough… But the things is… You can. You just have to quit making those excuses, jump in, and take it one step at a time. Saying “yes” can make all the difference in the life of a child that otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance and saying “yes” can make all the difference in your life. Saying yes may lower the suicide rate one person at a time. Saying yes may encourage a child to not make the same mistakes that were made before them, guaranteeing trauma in generations to come. Quit allowing foster/adoptive parents to be the ones to stand out. Let those who haven’t said “yes” stand out and inspire them to make the change, too.
Say yes. Today. Contact your local social services. Research your state’s private agencies. Make the call. Change a life.