To tell our story fully, I have to go way, way back. As a little girl, our family talked often of adoption. It was just my sister and I, dad the lone male, was surrounded by 3 women. At that time I believe even our dog was a girl. My sister and I would lay in our parent’s bedroom and draw pictures of our house and the bedroom we would convert for our “new” brother. We talked about it often and we would throw out names for him. I am not sure why it never happened but it didn’t, but the desire to add to my family through adoption was always with me.
When I met my husband, adoption came up periodically throughout our marriage – his response was always an emphatic “NO!” Each of our chosen careers were with populations that had special needs and difficulties, his as a special education teacher (mostly behavioral disabilities) and mine as a criminal defense attorney. We often encountered people at their worst and the thought of bringing someone, with the potential to bring their problems with them, into our home was frightening and a barrier we just couldn’t get past.
However, about six and a half years ago, our hearts softened. Separately, we came to the same place – that we wanted to add to our family via foster-adoption. I believe that was a God-thing. Curtis had several friends come into his life that either had adopted foster children or were in the process of adopting foster children. His experience of seeing his friends navigate through foster-adoption helped him see that we could do it. My desire had also re-surfaced at around that time. I remember where I was when my husband gave the green light. It was like how I remember where I was when the space shuttle challenger exploded, when Princess Diana died, 9-11, and the first African-American president was elected. I remember the room, where I was sitting, and I see it as clearly now as it happened. I was working in my home office and he simply came into my office and said, “let’s do it!” I needed no further discussion. I immediately began researching HOW. That was in September of 2010.
We kept our decision private. We didn’t tell anyone, except our two children who were about 14 and 8 at the time. They both immediately agreed with the decision and were excited about the idea of having a new brother or sister.
Our whole story is filled with the tiny “God moments”. I believe He has his hand all over our journey and it is a gift to be able to look back at the moments in time and just know, with absolute certainty, that our decision was part of something so much bigger than us.
One of those moments was several months later. Our decision was still a secret and my husband and I were sitting in the living room of a friend’s home for Bible study. Our “home team” was SO close and everyone was family. We were nearing the end and another set of close friends had decided to share a prayer request. They had made a decision to become foster parents and were hoping to adopt out of foster-care! Curtis and I, looked at each other grinning at the secret we had been keeping. We didn’t want to “steal” our friends’ moment, so we said nothing, but we did talk with our friends afterward and shared with them that we had come to the same decision. It was incredible! Both our families ended up going to certification classes together and being able to share the same journey with some of our best friends has been one of the most special experiences of our lives. We are forever connected.
It’s also funny that you think you know what your plans are and we often, as humans do, think we have all things figured out. How often our Father must shake his head at us and think, “buckle up Wendy – you have NO IDEA what is coming!” I didn’t, we didn’t we really had no clue as to what was coming. We had a plan. A pretty, perfect, packaged plan. We were going to adopt a boy, a little boy, he would be close in age to our son, Michael, so that he could have a play mate – a built in best friend. Again, God just chuckles.
When you are licensed to foster-adopt there are several different ways a child can be placed with you. As part of the certification process you have already decided the gender, number, racial specifics, and disabilities, if any, you believe would be best suited for your home and so when a child needs to be placed CPS, via your adoption agency, puts a call out to the families that match. So for weeks after being certified – NOTHING! I didn’t understand it. There were so many children needing homes and we did not receive one phone call. Discouraged, I reached out to our agency to figure out what was going on. We had specified that we only wanted to be placed with a child whose parent’s parental rights had already been severed. They explained that those children are not as available because, most of the time, the foster families they are already with decide to adopt them. At the time, we felt we could not bear a child being placed with us and have them leave. (A sentiment I hear often) We weren’t quite ready to change that decision. Instead, we opened ourselves up to provide “respite”. Respite is when a foster parent, takes another foster parents foster children so the foster family can take a vacation or other needed break.
We will never forget the little boy that was placed with us. His name was Acari and he was the sweetest little 18 month old. We had him for just four days and in that short amount of time, he filled our hearts with such joy. We fell in love with him instantly. He is what changed and opened our hearts. This precious little boy. Because of him, we decided that we were in the best position to bear the potential loss of having a child be with us, for only a time. As the grown-ups, it was better that we bore that loss. Any child placed with us deserved to be fully loved, without holding back, without fear, even if it was temporary. We hoped it would be forever, but we also learned that the love we were giving a child placed in our home mattered. Our love would be forever imprinted on their hearts. They deserved to know love, safety and security and it was what we were called to do.
The decision was made – we accepted the risk and we called our agency and let them know we had a change of heart….
Three weeks later, we received our little boy, Jaycob, into our home and he rocked our world to its core.
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