Foster Care, Adoption, and Becoming Family
When God Says No
Tears stung my face and I watched them collect on the bathroom floor. I held another negative pregnancy test in my hand. I didn’t even remember how many times I’d taken a test. Somewhere deep inside I began to wonder if these things even had two lines that could turn colors. I looked at the ceiling and asked God why. Why again? Modern medicine and tests gave me no answers. I watched doctors’ face turn to puzzled looks as test after test came back normal. They finally dismissed me saying they could find no reason – no answers for my years of infertility. They had no answers, but God did.
When David and I first met, long before I wore a ring, we discussed foster care and adoption. The issue of so many children needing homes and parents pulled on both our heart strings. We lamented the shortage of people willing or able to dive into the broken lives of so many children and agreed foster care or adoption was something to explore “someday.”
Looking in the Right Place
Someday started the day I walked out of the fertility clinic. Because ache for children in my heart was unquenchable, I knew it must be God-given. I simply searched for answers in the wrong office. Probing physical tests gave way to probing home study questions and legal hoops. Dreams took shape as we thought about what kind of child God might send us. A teenager? Would it be a boy or a girl? We prepared a bedroom with one bed in neutral colors, finished our paperwork, and waited for a phone call.
“This is (social worker) from (foster agency). We need a placement for three girls who just came into custody.”
“Three? We are only approved for one!”
“Yes, ma’am but yours is our last call before we split them up. If you are willing to take them, then we will make it work on our end.”
“Yes! They can stay here.”
That “yes” changed everything.
Every woman has her “labor story” of how bad it hurt. How discouraged she felt. When God told Eve there would be pain in childbearing, He didn’t make an exception for foster/adoptive moms, our labor just looks different. Going from zero to three with a 30 minute warning shocked all of us. The kids came out of circumstances most of us cannot even imagine. They were fascinated by the washing machine as they’d never seen one. They didn’t understand why we needed to take baths, or how to use forks, or spoons, or even toilet paper. I needed to explain why we couldn’t squat on the table to eat our food. I was asked why we couldn’t let animals poop on the floor. Arguments were fought over why we needed to comb lice out of their hair every night.
The hardest part came in the form of deeper questions. Why did God let this happen to us? Will we ever see our parents again? When can we go home? How long do I have to live with you? You aren’t my mom why do I have to do what you say? Why can’t I just be normal?
Instead of infants crying with hunger, I held crying children with broken hearts and questions for which I didn’t have answers. Instead of “Congratulations” on becoming a new mom, I met with critical stares and horror stories. Every new mom with a crying baby receives looks of understanding. When my children acted out their fear, pain, and trauma in public I was scolded. I tried to shut my ears to things like: “Needs a good spanking”, “This is what’s wrong with the world is parents like you,” “Have you figured out what causes this yet?”
My screams of labor pain didn’t fill a hospital bed, instead they were muffled in my pillow. I never had a contraction, it was my heart that tore instead. My broken cries filled the ears of the God who lead me to this place.
If the Israelites never spent time as slaves in Egypt, they wouldn’t need God to pull off miracles to save them. They never would know the lengths God would go to love and provide for them. For two years we waded through oceans of grief. We watched in horror as the investigation dug up horrifying facts. Court dates and therapy sessions littered my calendar. We learned to handle anger and grief as it came up. The truth became our most valuable weapon as we battled lies about hopelessness, value, and self.
I watched my children turn against me and push me away, but I clung desperately to the words of the therapists who assured me this was normal. Apparently when a child’s trust is broken, pushing people who love them away is a way to build trust–but only if the person keeps loving them when they are acting “unlovable.”
Just as I began to think my heart could take no more, that this labor would do me in, things started to change. Fits became less frequent. “I love you” replaced “I hate you”. Truth started coming out slowly. Painful lies let go and truth took hold. The darkness of the future turned to light and dreams formed. As a mom I will never forget the day someone in a restaurant complimented me on such well mannered children. Inwardly I giggled remembering the wild monkeys who squatted over plates and ate with their fingers.
Not Over Yet
Even as our hearts knit together and healing replaced brokenness, a dark cloud loomed in the distance. Legally, the girls were not free for adoption. A parent still maintained legal rights. Despite two years of failed promises, failed drug tests, prison time and parole violations, the state still sought to send the girls back to the parent’s custody. Fear crept into our children’s lives again. This time fear of going back. They begged us to keep them and I cried with them as I explained that I didn’t control this.
Fear turned to anxiety as the months passed. The girls started to exhibit physical symptoms of their inward turmoil. My knees hit the floor as I asked God why… again. I begged him to change things. I tried to remember that children are His gift, and even if I couldn’t raise them I could still pray for them. Tears stung my eyes as I listened to little girls pray at every meal and bed time asking God to let them stay.
God answered them with a phone call.
God Parted the Waters
“This is (social worker) with (foster agency). You are not going to believe this but (parent) came into our office today and voluntarily signed away their rights.”
“We have a court date to make it official. If you want to adopt the girls, we need you to come sign papers of intent and we will get you a court date.”
“Why did they do that? What happened?”
“Honestly, Mrs Banks, none of us has ever seen anything like this. I don’t believe in God, but I have to call this a miracle.”
A miracle it was! God showing up, as only he can, to answer the prayers of his children cannot be described any other way. We formally adopted our girls just a few months later, and praised God for the family we became. Little did we know that God wasn’t done answering prayers.
God’s Not Done
I sat in the bathroom again, holding yet another pregnancy test, bracing myself for the fact that it wouldn’t change colors. Late never means pregnant. Seven years of crying over tests should have taught me this. Why did I still take tests at all? I glanced at the test in my hand and froze. A second line was turning pink. Tears flooded my eyes and and joy came out as great sobs. I couldn’t stop the flood of them.
A few weeks later we broke the news to the girls, a little nervous about what they might think or feel. A new baby could really rock their boat and we worried about what lies it might give root to. Would they feel unwanted? Would they think we didn’t love them the same? Jealousy was sure to come into play. What about the stress triggering past hurts? Could we handle all this?
We called a family meeting.
“Girls we have something to tell you.”
Three girls stared back.
“We’re going to have a baby.”
I watched huge smiles break across three faces. The oldest piped up “We know.”
David and I glanced at each other. “What do you mean you know?”
“We all got together and prayed for a baby brother”, said our middle daughter triumphantly. “God’s just delivering him.”
“Yep! It’s a boy… you don’t have to find out. It’s the baby brother we asked for.”
We all welcomed the much prayed for baby just a few months later. Sure enough, the girls were right, it was a boy. We named him Samuel, meaning “asked of God.” If ever a child was asked for, this one certainly was. Far from driving any wedges in the family, the blessing of watching God answer prayers knit us all together even tighter.
Though I never would have chosen to make a family this way, God knew best. All of us have been blessed to see God show up in powerful answers to prayers. If not for years of painful tears over infertility, I might not have waded into fostering. I could have missed watching God heal broken lives. Most certainly, I never would have heard an atheist social worker admit she’d seen a miracle. The family might never have seen God answer three innocent prayers for a baby brother with an “impossible” pregnancy.
As with any story… God’s not done. We are simply waiting for the next chapter. If you too are waiting for God to move mountains and have an interest in Foster or Adoption. We highly recommend checking out Youth Villages.
We are always available to answer any questions you may have. Just check out the Contact Page.