Today, I am going to start out with the verse from the Bible that I stand on when it comes to opening my home to children in foster care.
To put this verse in context, the Bible is talking about how one day Jesus will sit on the throne with everyone around and he will separate the sheep from the goats. He will separate those who know Him and those who don’t know Him.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ~Matthew 25:34-40
No matter what we are doing in life, we are ALL called to love & help the least of these. And for us, that means opening our home to the homeless. Opening our lives to the fatherless. Opening our HEARTS to children who need love.
And that is why we chose foster care. Even though God had to do a great work in us first before we finally realized what His calling was! So now to continue with our journey into foster care.
So as I continued on my way home from that lunch date, I called Ryan. I don’t know if Ryan was quite ready for the phone call that followed… God had to do a little more work on him before he was convinced. But he agreed to go to some of the classes to see what foster care was all about.
The next month, in May of last year, we were signed up to do all the classes we needed through the Bair Foundation. As we sat through that first class and learned about the foster system, and behavior problems, and some of the things kids face in their homes, my heart broke. Ryan and I sat in the car for a while afterwards and he said, “Ok, it’s obvious to me now. This is exactly what we are supposed to do. Whatever we can do, even if it’s just for a few children in this world, we need to do it.”
Even though we were both ready to take it all on, I still don’t think we were prepared for the mound of paperwork that followed. No kidding, it was about 3 inches thick. It honestly seemed like it was never going to end. When we would get through with some of it, there would be more given to us. And not only was there paperwork, but there was inspections, and rearranging our entire home to be “kid friendly,” and background checks, and LONG interviews, and even our families and close friends had to fill out paperwork. It is (and continues to be) an extensive process. I’m not going to lie, there were definitely points where we wanted to throw in the towel when it seemed like they were just being nit-picky.
But we pressed on because we knew if we were out of God’s will, then we would never be happy.
They told us that it generally took around 2-3 months to be licensed. I thought, “WOW, that is so fast!” With everything we still had to do, the thought of possibly having a kid in our house in 2-3 months seemed unlikely. But I was beyond thrilled. But 3 months came and went. Because of reasons beyond out power, it was taking longer to get us licensed. Between personal/family issues and Bair Foundation problems, I honestly wondered at one point if there was any way for us to be licensed. I kept having to remind myself that if God wanted us to do this, that He would provide a way.
And He did.
On October 31, 2012 we were officially licensed foster parents. We started getting some calls about kids that could be a possibility. An 18-month-old, a little four year old, a sibling group… but nothing really ever felt right. And then on November 29th, as I was about to leave the church parking lot (where I work) I got a phone call. She said, “Donnell… we have a newborn. He is just a few days old. What do you think?”
I immediately stopped my car because my heart started racing out of my chest and my eyes started to fill with tears. It was at that moment I knew it was right. All of the struggles to get to where we were–all the talk about infertility, all the huge amounts of paperwork, all the tears shed in frustration–it was ALL worth it in the moment.
Everything that came next was a complete WHIRLWIND.
But I will share more about that later…