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.
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.
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)