RSS

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Our Foster Care to Adoption Journey – Part 4

If you haven’t read the other 3 posts, a great place to start is in the beginning.

ANTICIPATION

After the ISP meeting at the courthouse, Matthew’s biological mom began to realize that this case would not last much longer.  They had coasted for 13 months, and time was running out.  During our GPS training classes we discussed a child’s need for permanency, either with bio-parents or adopted parents.  Children thrive when they have structure and stability, so DHR owes it to each child to settle their cases as quickly as possible.  If reconciliation is achievable, then it should be done as soon as a safe environment for the child is provided.  If an adequate amount of time has passed and reconciliation looks less likely or impossible, then there comes a point when the court has to terminate the parent’s rights (TPR) and place the child with an adoptive family that can provide that stability they long for.  A Bill passed in the State of Alabama in February of this year requires TPR to be filed after the child has been in foster care for 12 months (it was previously 15 months which is what happened in Matthew’s case).

Bio-mom began looking for a job with a little more diligence. We even helped her fill out some applications, but a good job wasn’t that easy to find.  She finally got hired on second shift at a gas station, but it only lasted for 4 hours before they sent her home (I still don’t know the reason).  Around the same time they moved from their trailer back into the motel room and took two steps backward.

Mandi and I were experiencing an emotional tug-of-war during this time.  Our lives had become irrevocably intertwined with Matthew’s, and we knew that his bio-parent’s success meant that he would go back home.  It would have been easy to cut ties and let them sink or swim on their own, but if there was a chance that Matthew could stay with us forever and ask one day about his biological family, we wanted to be able to say that we did everything we could to help them make it.  This wasn’t just about Matthew, and this wasn’t just about his parents.  God called us into this, and we were serving Him.  Mandi and I held on to the parable of Jesus in Matthew 25:40.  His disciples asked, “When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?” and Jesus replied, “I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.”WhateverYouDid

The next few months dragged on for what seemed like an eternity.  Uncertainty weighs heavy on your soul and has a way of slowing down time.  With no forward progress attained, DHR filed for Termination of Parental Rights in November 2012 and scheduled a hearing before the judge.  They don’t typically schedule special hearings in December because of the holidays, so that pushed us into the new year.  A newly elected judge was set to take the reins in January, but at the last minute he was appointed to a higher position and all cases were postponed until another judge could be selected to serve in Marshall County.  When the new judge was finally in place, the docket was so far behind that the first hearing date available was April 3, 2013.  Seven full months since Matthew’s permanency goal was changed to adoption, and for us, seven full months of that tug-of-war emotional uncertainty.

TERMINATION

Just before the court date in April, there was a last minute panicked attempt from the Bio-parents to get things accomplished, but it was too late.  The damage had been done.  As we entered the courtroom it more closely resembled something on TV, since it was reserved only for Matthew’s case.  The bio-parents were seated on one side of the court with their attorney,  and the social workers with DHR’s attorney were seated on the opposite side.

As foster parents, Mandi and I were only responsible for Matthew’s care.  His permanent custody hearing was between the bio-parents and the State of Alabama, so we were allowed to attend, but had to remain silent observers.  I won’t go into the details of the four hour hearing, but it was excruciating for Mandi and me to be a third party in the courtroom, unable to speak on Matthew’s behalf.  After the witnesses were called and the evidence presented, the judge announced that he would issue a ruling in a few days then dismissed the courtroom.  A few days later I wrote the following to a friend:

We finally received word this morning that the judge has made a ruling in Matthew’s case and has terminated his biological parent’s rights. Their name will be stricken from his birth certificate, and when his permanent adoption occurs, our name will be written in it’s place. He’ll be given the new surname, Reed, and will forever become our son.  It will be as if he never knew them.

Our family is grateful for the ruling that was handed down today, and we can only imagine the path Matthew’s life would have taken if the outcome had been different. At the same time my joy is tempered with grief as I think about another set of parents who received a call with bad news this morning. They were told to prepare for one last farewell visit with their son. Through it all, I’m convinced that Matthew’s parents truly loved him. They rarely missed a visit, and they sent text messages to check on him often. They just didn’t love him more than they loved themselves. They have been quick to profess their love, but seemingly unwilling to do what it takes to provide a stable home for Matthew.

ADOPTIONIMG_6292

Even after the TPR was finalized it still took a few months to complete all of the paperwork for adoption.  Matthew’s case was handed over to a different social worker at DHR that specialized in facilitating the adoption of children in foster care.  She walked us through all the steps. We secured an attorney to handle the paperwork and filing on our behalf and requested one more hearing before the judge to finalize the adoption.  When the call finally came from the attorney’s office to inform us that we had been given a court date to sign the adoption into law, we were overcome by God’s provision and blessings.  The date was August 22, Matthew’s 2nd birthday.

At the time of adoption, we changed his last name (of course) and could have legally changed his first name as well, but we decided to leave it alone.  He would always be Matthew to us and any other name would seem unnatural at this point.  Besides, we couldn’t have picked a better name.  “Matthew” means “gift from God” and he certainly is.

COMPARISON 

“If anybody understands God’s ardor for his children, it’s someone who has rescued an orphan from despair, for that is what God has done for us. God has adopted you. God sought you, found you, signed the papers and took you home.”  –Max Lucado

Adoption is a wonderful picture of the Gospel.  We recognize ourselves as spiritual orphans; lost sinners in need of a Savior.  But Jesus came to earth to redeem us and give us the gift of salvation and a way to the Father if we will put our faith and trust in Him.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

“When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!”  So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” -Galatians 4:4-7

I believe this whole journey has given Mandi and I some insight into the lives of everyday people who say they love God, but are unwilling to surrender their will, their actions, their very lives to Him.  All around us people are quick to name the name of Christ, but they seem content to visit Him once a week and spend the rest of their lives doing what they want to do.  Matthew’s bio-parents were an extreme example of nominal Christians who say they love God, but do not posses any of the fruit of the spirit.  Jesus’ words in the book of Matthew immediately come to mind when he said “These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”  I’m also reminded of John 14:15 that says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Christianity really is that simple, but it’s also that difficult.  Are we willing to do what it takes?  Do we love Jesus more than we love ourselves?  Do we spend our money and time on useless frivolity instead of giving our all to the Son?  One day it will be too late.  Time will expire and people will scramble to make last minute confessions, excuses about their inability to meet minimum requirements.  They’ll have one last farewell visit with The Son.  Then God will say, “depart from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

CONCLUSIONAdoption Day

Even though the adoption is complete and they have no legal standing, our family continues to visit Matthew’s Bio-parents on occasion.  We’ve met them at a local restaurant a couple of times and presented them with a Bible and devotional book to read.  They text us less frequently now, but still check-in from time to time and see how he’s doing.  I’m not sure what our relationship will look like in the future, but we will continue to pray for their well-being and their salvation even if they move on to another city or state.

Matthew’s adoption journey ends here, but our journey as a family is still being written.  We feel certain that God has more in store for our family through foster care and/or adoption, and we’re confident that whatever He leads us to, He’ll lead us through.  We cannot abandon the call of Psalms 82:3-4 to “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.  Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

If you’ve read this blog and God is moving you to action I’d like to recommend a few ways that you can get involved:

  • Pray – The children in foster care, the parents trying to straighten their lives out and get their kids back, the social workers that deal with problems every single day, all need our prayers.
  • Contact DHR and attend a GPS class  – There is no commitment involved.  These classes are for you to decide if foster care is right for your family.
  • Provide Respite Care – Foster families need a break from time to time and DHR is always looking for families that can keep foster kids just for the weekend, or maybe during a week-long vacation.
  • Donate – When children are removed from their home they often leave so much behind while they’re in foster care.  Help DHR provide clothes, stuffed animals to comfort children, suitcases for their belongings, etc.
  • Get Informed – Check out Jim Daly’s recent blog at Focus on the Family’s website.  You might be surprised to find out that 450,000 children are currently in foster care in the US.  Of those, 100,000 have parents whose rights have been terminated and are immediately available for adoption.

“Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance.”  –Mother Teresa (very famous Albanian)

Advertisements
 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 22, 2013 in Family, Personal

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Foster Care to Adoption Journey – Part 3

If you haven’t read them already, check out Part 1 and Part 2.  The cart doesn’t pull the ox.

CALLING THE PARENTS

With sweaty palms I dialed their cell phone number.  It rang a few times and went to voicemail. I don’t blame them; if it’s an unknown number, I let my incoming calls go to voicemail too. “Hey, this is Robert, Matthew’s foster dad. We’re having revival services at our church this week, and Mandi and I wanted to invite you to come tomorrow night. I know you work second shift, but we’ll be glad to come pick you up if you guys can make it. We thought you might want to see Matthew on his birthday. Also… we want you to know that we’re here if you ever need anything. This is not just about Matthew, we care about you guys too. We think of you often and pray for you every night when we put the kids to bed. Let me know about tomorrow.”

They didn’t call back.  We didn’t hear from them for a few weeks in fact, but the social worker who picked up Matthew for each visit told us one day, “I don’t know what you guys have done or said, but they love ya’ll.  They speak very highly of you both.”  Apparently just knowing that we were genuinely concerned about them and prayed for them regularly had an effect.

FAMILY COURT

Every three months during the duration of Matthew’s case, we had the opportunity to attend the court hearings that extended his care in the custody of the state.  Had the parents completed their necessary tasks, these hearings could also have returned Matthew to their custody.  Being in the courtroom was always unsettling, and not just because of Matthew’s case, but because of the other cases going on at the same time.  I had never been in a courtroom before, but it wasn’t like anything I’d seen on TV (funny, I always thought TV and the internet were spot on).

All of the juvenile cases were heard on the same day, so the courtroom was full of bio-parents, foster parents, social workers, and attorneys.  There were 100 or more people in the galley waiting on their name to be called.  The courtroom was never silent.  While the judge was discussing one case at the bench with all the parties involved, parents were updating social workers on their progress, social workers were informing attorneys about upcoming cases on the docket, and bio-parents were all discussing their cases with each other.  There was a constant murmur about custody, placement, judgements and appeals from the front of the courtroom all the way to the back.  Ordered chaos.

There were some interesting characters in these dramas that were playing out all around us.  One lady was sharing some information about an apartment she had found across town.  “They’ll give you a discount if you don’t have a job, so I quit!”  (Not sure about the logic there.)  There was another woman who couldn’t get the attention of her social worker by waving her arms wildly so she poured her 20oz Mountain Dew® on the floor and stormed out.  A man behind us joked to his 5 year old son, “They’re letting you go home with me today, so I can beat you all I want to now.”  The little boy giggled; he was just thrilled to be going home with his dad.  My heart grieved for the children in these situations, but also for the parents that had been so deceived by Satan.  It would be easy to look around and see a room full of villains.  Whether it was abuse or neglect, these were people who had done something so bad that it warranted removing their children from their home, but just like Matthew’s bio-parents, these were all people that were created and loved by God.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8September Rain

Matthew’s three month court hearing was on the September docket, which fell at the same time as the required six-month ISP meeting for DHR, foster parents, and bio-parents, so they were both scheduled on the same day.  The night before, Mandi and I got our first call from Matthew’s bio-mom.  “Hey, it’s supposed to be raining tomorrow morning and we don’t want to walk in the rain.  Do you think you guys could pick us up for court?”  We agreed and stopped by their trailer the next morning.

Matthew’s bio-parents had recently moved from the motel room into a trailer park on the outskirts of town.  Their description over the phone was “the smallest trailer in the park” and we drove right to it.  It was in a bad state of disrepair.  It was technically a permanent dwelling, but DHR still would not allow home visits due to unsafe living conditions. The roof leaked so badly in the bedroom that they slept in the living room.  The carpet stayed damp throughout the whole trailer which led to mold and bug problems.  They were renting, so the repairs should’ve been taken care of, but the landlord was hard to deal with and could just as easily kick you out and have someone else renting by the end of the day.

It was a Tuesday morning and the weatherman was right; it was pouring rain.  The front door opened before we even turned the truck off and Bio-Mom ran across the gravel yard and hopped in the back seat.  It was only her, and she said Bio-Dad was going to sleep late instead of going to court.  When we arrived at the courthouse, the hearing was the first thing on the agenda.  It was much like all the previous hearings.  Circumstances had not changed, Matthew would remain in state custody for three more months and stay in our foster home.

The ISP meeting was held shortly after the court hearing.  We found a quiet hallway in the back of the courthouse where we could all have a seat.  The social worker began with her dismay that Bio-Dad wasn’t at court or this 6-month ISP meeting.  She explained that it had been 13 months since Matthew was taken into custody and DHR is required to change his permanency goal once he has been in care from 12-15 months.  It was commendable that they didn’t miss visits with Matthew each week, but Bio-Mom still didn’t have a job, they had no transportation or suitable housing, and parenting classes had not been completed.  They seemed satisfied to see him once a week and do things their way.  Up to this point his permanency goal (DHR’s goal for Matthew) was documented as “reunification with parents”, but it would now be changed to “adoption”.  If they didn’t make some changes soon, DHR would file a motion to terminate their parental rights and allow Matthew to be adopted.

BACKSTORY

For 13 months, Mandi and I had prepared ourselves and our family for the possibility, if not the likelihood, that Matthew would go back home.  From the very first GPS class we tried to talk with our kids about the goals of foster care and explain things to them in ways that they would understand our purpose.  We shared with them what we learned each week in class and explained that we may have kids come and live with us because their mommy’s and daddy’s were having a rough time but once they got better and could take care of their children again, the kids would go back home where they belong.  As a foster family, our job was to love on those kids as much as we could until their own parents could give them a safe place to stay again.

Our kids understood everything well by the time Matthew came along.  One night, when Matt was about six months old, Titus said, “I sure do wish he could stay with us forever,” and Evie quickly cut him off, “Nooo!  He has a mommy and daddy that love him and they would miss him if he never went home!”  Hearing her say it out loud stung a little, but she was right.

This knowledge that he would eventually go home made us treat him a little differently than our own kids as well.  We would rock him until he went to sleep each night instead of laying him down in the crib to cry.  We would pamper him a little more, perhaps.  He just seemed so fragile and so much more vulnerable than our own children.

It had been a long, uncertain 13 months, but they were all put behind us in an instant when DHR’s goal for Matthew changed to adoption.  It didn’t mean that the case was over by any means.  His bio-parents still had time to get things in order and get him back, but for the first time we allowed ourselves to hope that we could be his forever family if everything didn’t work out for them.  It made for an awkward ride back home.  We tried to keep the joy in our hearts from expressing itself on our faces, knowing that in the backseat was a mom who was beginning to realize that if she didn’t start making a serious effort, she may not get to keep her son.  She stared out the window as we drove in silence.

To be continued… (click here for the conclusion – Part 4)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Family, Personal

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Foster Care to Adoption Journey – Part 2

Continued from Part 1 

CALLING DHR

I contacted our local Department of Human Resources and discovered that the timing couldn’t have been better.  The 10-week course that was required to become a licensed foster home was about to start, so we signed up to attend the first class in May of 2011.  The Group Parenting Selection (GPS) classes have a two-fold purpose.  First, they are designed to train you on how to handle various situations that may arise in foster parenting.  Second, they allow you to decide if fostering would work for your family, and for DHR to decide if they think fostering would work for your family. Each week it seemed like someone else dropped out, voluntarily or otherwise.  It felt like we were on Survivor: DHR Edition.survivor

I remember the first class vividly.  Mandi cried all the way home.  “This is too hard.  We can’t do this to our kids.  We can’t do this to our families.  I can handle getting hurt if a child goes back home, but they can’t handle it.  It would be like losing a brother or sister!  They’d just be gone!”  It was a long car ride, but the next morning after her coffee and morning Bible study Mandi had total peace about it.  She said, “If God has ever spoken to me clearly, He did this morning.  This is what we’re supposed to do.”  God showed us that if children came into our home, for whatever length of time, we could love them and send them back home knowing that they are truly loved.  We might only have a short time with them, but if we had never met them, we could never pray for them or their families.

The 10-weeks went by fairly quickly and the GPS classes were very informative.  They dispelled many of the myths about foster care, which put our mind at ease, but they didn’t candy coat anything either.  Our teachers were realists and had been foster parents themselves.  They let us know up front that it’s hard work and most of the time it’s a thankless job.  They also tried to take away any romantic, pie-in-the-sky ideas we had about fostering.  “You will not get a baby, and if you do it won’t be only a baby, there will probably be older siblings involved as well as difficult parents that hate DHR and hate you.  See you next week!”

At the end of the term some decisions had to be made.  If you decide fostering just isn’t your calling, you can walk away and it didn’t cost you anything but a little time.  Or if you decide to continue with the process you can specify how many children you’re willing to take (up to six depending on your living arrangements) and the ages you’d be best suited to work with.  One couple in our class had an empty nest since their kids had married and moved out.  They wanted to work with teenagers since they had experience with the youth group at their church.  Mandi and I specified no more than two children and none over the age of five (keeping our kids birth order intact).  A social worker did a thorough home inspection to make sure we didn’t live in a van down by the river. We got our license, and then we patiently waited for DHR to call with a placement.

DHR CALLING

I was in my office on a Tuesday afternoon, when my phone rang.  It was Mandi calling from the pediatrician’s office where the kids were having their yearly checkup.  “Don’t panic*, but I’m on my way to get you and we need to go to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.  Titus’ blood sugar level is 295 and Dr. Burton thinks he may be a Type 1 Diabetic.”

*Anytime someone starts a conversation with “don’t panic”, the information that follows is generally something very panic worthy and it usually means that they are, in fact, panicking themselves. 

I’ll spare you all the details about our night in the emergency room, but suffice it to say we spent the next day with heavy eyelids and heavier hearts.  I was sitting in my office, trying to make it through the day when my phone rang.  It was a social worker from DHR.  “We have a baby that needs to come home from the hospital.  He’s two days old, doesn’t have any brothers or sisters, and that’s about all the information I have for you.  Would you guys be able to take him?”  There was a long pause on my end and then I said without hesitation, “I’ll have to call you right back.”

Mandi and I were exhausted from the previous day and stressed about the possibility that our son might have a disease that he would struggle with for the rest of his life.  The timing was terrible, but in the end we decided that if this is what God called us to do, then He would equip us to handle it.  We called them back and said yes.IMG_2512

Two hours later a social worker showed up at our house with Matthew.  It had been over five years since we had a newborn in the house, and this time we didn’t have 9 months to prepare for it, but there he was.  A 5lb. 6oz. baby boy with a donated car seat, a onesie, and a complimentary pack of diapers from the hospital.  That’s it.  Our church family sprang into action, going through their closets and garages and within just a few hours we were blessed with a bassinet, some clothes, baby formula, and diapers.  Then a few ladies watched Matthew for us while we made a quick trip to Walmart. (Doesn’t every major life event involve at least one trip to Walmart?)

YEAR ONE

Within the first few weeks of a new placement, DHR has a meeting with all parties involved in the foster care case to discuss the reunification plan.  This meeting was the first time we met Matthew’s biological parents.  Bio-dad*, who was in his late thirties at the time, stood about 6’2″ tall, had several tattoos on his arms and neck, a shaved head, and earrings in both ears.  The face behind his glasses was weathered and he could have easily passed for a man in his fifties.  Bio-mom was just a year younger than me at the time.  She was very small in height and stature, with a short bob haircut that looked like she may have trimmed it herself.  It was shaved in the back, much higher than her neckline was supposed to be.  She was missing several teeth and the ones she had left needed some work.  Her Edward and Bella t-shirt was a few sizes too large for her small frame and we discovered later that she was a big Twilight fan.  Despite their unkempt appearance, they were both pleasant enough to talk to and Bio-mom smiled most of the time in spite of a few gaps in her grin.

*As I describe Matthew’s biological parents, please understand that I’m not trying to belittle them, or make fun of them in any way.  I’m only trying to state the facts as we saw them.  We viewed this as an opportunity to share God’s love with Matthew AND his parents.  Regardless of appearances and circumstances, we could not ignore the fact that God created them and loved them just as He created and loved us. 

Both bio-parents spoke with a northern accent.  During the meeting we learned that they were both originally from the Northeast.  He had four other kids from previous relationships, but this was her first born.  They met in a Florida homeless shelter and she was “with-child” when they caught a ride with a friend traveling to Albertville, AL.  They lived with this friend in a dilapidated one bedroom apartment and slept on the living room floor.  Matthew was born on August 22, and at the hospital, nurses became concerned when Matthew’s diaper would go unchanged for hours and his bottle remained full after repeated request for them to feed him.  When the nurses discovered the living arrangements and complete lack of basic baby supplies, DHR was contacted.

The goal of foster care is reunification with the biological family when proper steps have been taken to ensure the children’s immediate safety and well being.  The main purpose of this first ISP (Individualized Service Plan) meeting was to outline the steps that the parents needed to take in order to reunify their family.  They were really very basic and we thought Matthew could easily go home before Christmas.  Bio-Dad needed to get a job in order to support his family.  He said that his long term goal was getting on disability but he had been turned down several times since he’s not technically disabled.  Once he had an income, they just needed appropriate housing, secure some kind of transportation for doctors visits and emergencies, and complete parenting classes.

After the initial meeting, we didn’t see them again for six months.  They had weekly visits with Matthew, but a social worker would pick him up at our house, then pick them up  and transport all of them to DHR for the visit.  DHR kept us informed on their status as the case progressed.  By Thanksgiving, Bio-dad had a job at a local chicken plant on second shift and they moved into a motel that rented rooms by the week, but that wasn’t exactly a permanent housing solution.  When we all sat down at the six month review meeting, they just offered excuses about not having a ride to the parenting classes.  DHR’s repeated offers to help arrange transportation and provide phone numbers for assistance seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Six more months went by without any significant change.  Through it all, the bio-parents didn’t miss a visit with Matthew.  They saw him every week for their 2 hour visit without fail, and seemed to be content with that.  We didn’t interact with them nearly as much as we expected and during that entire first year we only met them on two occasions at the DHR offices and once when I saw them walking on HWY 431 and gave them a lift.

The first significant change in our relationship was around Matthew’s first birthday.  It was revival week at church and on Tuesday night after the service the Lord kept bringing them back to my mind.  I told Mandi, “Tomorrow is his birthday.  I would want to see my son on his first birthday.  Let’s invite them to church tomorrow night.”

I don’t want it to sound like we were super excited about it.  Mandi was hesitant, and I was nervous.  It was awkward and, frankly, a little scary.  We’d been keeping their son for a year now and we really didn’t know how they would react to our call, but sitting in the church parking lot, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed the number.

To be continued… (click here for Part 3)

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Family, Personal

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Foster Care to Adoption Journey – Part 1

If there was anything we learned in our foster parent training with DHR (Department of Human Resources) it was, “every case is different”.  It was our instructor’s favorite answer to any question during our 10-weeks of classes, and that answer most definitely applies to here.  We realize that our case is not “the norm”, but it is our prayer that others may be encouraged and uplifted by our experiences with foster care and adoption.

THE BEGINNING 

Hope for the World Orphanage - Saranda, Albania

Hope for the World Orphanage – Saranda, Albania

After our first date, I came home and told my parents that Mandi was “the one”.  We met on October 23*, 1998 and were engaged the following March.  We got married one year from the day we met on October 23, 1999.  During that year, as we grew closer to one another and discussed our plans and dreams, we both expressed a desire to have a few children of our own and then, as God allowed, adopt kids that needed a forever family.  We had no idea what this would look like, or what was involved, but I believe God placed that desire in our hearts early in our relationship.  In 2003 we were given the opportunity to minister to children in an orphanage in Saranda, Albania and that seed of adoption was watered.  Just a few months after that mission trip, we celebrated the birth of our first child and God’s plan for us as parents was beginning to unfold.

*October 23 was the official day we met, although Mandi had visited our church with her brother several times and admired me from afar.

GOD CALLING

Evie, Titus, and Cheese-Puff

Evie, Titus, and Cheese-Puff

Fast forward eight years to 2011.  God blessed Mandi and I with two great kids that have been a joy since birth.  Titus, a 7-year-old Star Wars fanatic who always had a pocket full of Legos® and Evelyn, the 5-year-old artist with a great imagination and a thing for cats.  Work was going well and my design firm, nVIUS Graphics, had seen sales increase every year.  Mandi was working for with me a few days a week managing the accounting, which allowed us to spend time together everyday.  We had a nice little white house with a nice little front porch, and of course, a cat.   Living the American Dream and all that…

During the spring of 2011, we read David Platt’s book Radical and began to re-examine what Jesus taught us about being His disciples.  One section in particular dealt with caring for the poor and needy.  Two passages of scripture that were highlighted in that chapter seemed to resonate with us.

“Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” -Proverbs 31:8-9

“Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” -James 1:27

After reading Radical we committed to a challenge issued in the final chapter; a challenge to pray for the world everyday.  We signed up for a daily email from Operation World about the physical and spiritual needs of a country so we could specifically pray for a different nation and people group by name each night.  It usually had a video that accompanied the email and it became part of our nightly routine with the kids.  I would tuck them in and then lay down between them with my iPad and we would watch a video together and pray.  One night an email about Botswana, Africa prompted some questions from Evie.  “Is that really their house?” “Why don’t any of those kids have shoes?” “What’s an orphan?”

As I answered her questions one-by-one, I noticed a little tear running down her cheek and she finally asked, “Can we buy one?”  It was funny, but it broke my heart at the same time.  This was her innocent 5-year-old way of asking if we could bring one of the kids in the video home to live with us.  In her mind everything in our house was bought at the store, so why should an orphan be any different?  God was working on our family and we were finally moved to action.

Mandi and I began asking questions about adoption, looking at adoption websites, discussing our options, but one thing kept coming up that we didn’t expect… foster care.  We had never considered foster care for the same reason that many people easily dismiss it.  I would get too attached.  How will they affect my own children?  What if we don’t have any control over which kids are placed in our home?  There just appeared to be too many variables, so we didn’t give it a second thought, but it seemed like every time we turned around foster care was the topic of conversation in the most random places.  I listened to a downloaded podcast one day and the pastor was talking about how his church was involved in assisting foster families.  Then there was one time in particular that I called to inquire specifically about adoption and one of the first questions the lady on the other end of the line asked me was “Have you and your wife considered becoming foster parents?  I think you’d make great candidates.”

“We get it, God.  We’ll check into foster care…”

To be continued… (click here for Part 2)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Family, Personal

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,