One short year into marriage, we heard about the need for foster parents in our city.
When we learned there are thousands of vulnerable kids who live without safe homes and the love they deserve right outside our door, my husband and I looked at each other in the eyes and laugh-cried at the instinctual response we both had. We could help. Why wouldn’t we help?
Let’s do that “someday.”
At that time we were practically babies—23 years old, fresh college grads, still quite intimidated by adulting (and certainly failing at it). Someday. Someday we’d be ready for that kind of adventure. What we never could have seen coming was just how early “someday” would come for us.
You see, we had been longing for a child to call our own. And, in the midst of that longing, we were frequently drawn back to the idea of foster care.
Then one day someone said to us, “You know, you guys have an unbelievable ability to love our kids like they’re your own.” That phrase changed the game for us.
My husband and I looked at each other in the eyes and laugh-cried again at the clarity of it all. Of course, today is the “someday.” We will be foster parents, starting now.
Listening to God’s voice can sound really mysterious and super-spiritual. But in our lives, it often just looks like pulling together the pieces over time. A small inkling here, a phrase of encouragement from a friend, a nudge to take a step forward. This was exactly that—small pieces, strung together over time, making it clear that taking a step towards a child in need was, in fact, our next step as a family.
We went home from their house that night and applied online. Within a couple of weeks, our classes would start. And just three days before our classes were to begin, I peed on a little white stick to see two pink lines for the first time. Pregnant.
We started to wonder if maybe we had strung the pieces together incorrectly. That maybe we were “reading into” all the inklings incorrectly. “God, could this really be what you have for us right now? A biological baby and foster care?”
Excited and confused, we went to our first class. We made a pact that if either one of us felt like we should stop the classes at any point in time, we would. We could always come back to it. You know, when we were better at that adulting thing and maybe even had some parenting wisdom to bring to the table. What we didn’t know at the time was that we were practicing faith in the midst of doubt. If we were wrong, we were at least wrong on the side of an aggressive mistake. That’s the side we knew we wanted to be on, so we kept moving forward.
Week after week, we’d leave the class and on the way out, look at each other in the eyes and laugh-cry at the absurdity of it all. This really was a path less-traveled and yet it was the exact path we were to be on.
Five years later, we have three kids with our last name—two biological boys and one daughter adopted through foster care, a short 26 months separating our oldest and our youngest. We’ve also loved and handed over a child along the way and supported over 30 other kids and families in the foster care system. We’ve done this through respite care, babysitting, making meals, giving money, meeting one-on-one to encourage and equip, bringing wine and diapers on the day of placement, and much more.
When I look back at it all and reflect, we’ve learned so much in this process. Pulling together the inklings of what we thought God might be saying was clunky, imperfect, and sometimes confusing. Being surprised by the (fast!) timing of our growing family brought us to challenging places in all ways: relationally, spiritually, financially. Taking step after step towards kids in need often came at a sacrifice to other things we wanted. And the family I’ve been given through it all is beautiful and perfect and I’m tremendously thankful for the exact (though complicated) way God designed it.
In it all, we’ve been surrounded by people with tremendous hearts and difficult roles who fought alongside us. We’ve been touched by the people we’ve supported with stories often too hard to stomach. In every bit of this, taking a step in the direction of a child in need brought purpose to my life and called me to my best self. It grew me in ways I couldn’t have experienced otherwise. I want the same for you.
I want you to pull together the inklings of what God might be saying to you. Maybe you’ve wondered if you could do that “someday.” And maybe your someday is now. Maybe you always thought you’d have biological kids first (or only!) but something still makes you wonder. Maybe instead of adding a kid to your family, you’re ready to give family to a kid.
This desire is in many of us because it’s hard-wired into God’s design. It’s at the heart of what we crave out of religion but rarely find. It could literally change the world if more of us could just say yes.
There’s a book in the Bible called James that’s full of practical wisdom for our lives that 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.
Wherever your inklings are, act on them. Consider changing that “maybe” or “someday,” and just say “yes”. Take a step towards kids in need yourself, or by supporting a foster family near you. Take a step towards a challenging place, practicing faith in the midst of doubt. I know it to be deeply worth it—full of purpose & beauty, a wildly fulfilling catalyst for personal growth, and a powerful way to change a life.