My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Monday, February 4, 2013

Our Foster/Adoption Story Part 1

My husband and I talked about adoption way back when we were dating. I had wanted to "run an orphanage" with my sisters since I was 5 years old. I loved kids and adoption had always been a part of that dream and my husband's parents had recently adopted 3 more children to add to their 6. So when I nearly died with our first child a year later and had to have an emergency hysterectomy, I was not disappointed. I was happy to be alive and adoption seemed like the obvious next step for us. It was unfamiliar territory, but really, how hard could it be? We were going to "save" a child from a sad/terrible life and make them a part of our wonderful, happy family. We were going to bless and love this child! It was soooo exciting!

It took us a short 9 months to finish the application process and when our daughter was just 2 years old, we got our first foster-to-adopt placements. 2 beautiful boys, ages 2 and 4, joined our family. It was so busy and soooo good! Our then 8 year old son had a perfect playmate and our daughter had a little playmate her age, too! Everyone got along so well and it was nothing but smiles and laughter for about 3 months. Then the storm started to hit. We had taken training and had been told about this, but the whole time we were thinking, "We've been parents for quite awhile now, we come from good homes, we've got this. That won't happen to us." So when the storm did hit, we were caught a little off guard.

It wasn't all that bad, but sibling rivalry was rampant and some of the behaviors I was seeing I felt inadequate to handle. I wanted to do all the right things, but just didn't know what to do. I needed more training and more understanding. Those wonderful boys did end up going back home to their wonderful, hard-working, deserving mother - who is now a good friend of mine. That one had a happy ending.

 We decided to try taking a baby the next time so that it wouldn't be as hard on our family and so 3 weeks later, after a short family holiday with our 2 bio kids, we got "Little Flower". She was brand new and so adorable. We literally had to hide her when we went out because people would stop us everywhere we went - which we liked at first, but sometimes you just need to get where you are going! We've now had Little Flower for 2 1/2 years and family has stepped up and stepped back and her case has been all over the place. We have lived in a dreaded fear of losing her for over a year now, and trial is supposed to be in June of this year. Every day we pray for this little girl and the confusion and trauma that she didn't ask for. She is definitely a part of our family in every way.

When Little Flower turned 1 year old, we got another call and welcomed a little girl we will call "Katie" home. This one was going to for sure be adoptable as previous siblings were already adopted by another foster family. She was such a darling and tiny little girl. Her mom fought for her and after a short 16 months with us - she went home. That was really hard. Hard to lose a baby. It was bittersweet, though.

When Katie had just turned 1 year old, we got another call that Little Flower's baby sister needed a place for a short time until family could get things together so they could take her. We knew that she wouldn't be staying with us long, but we said yes anyway. She was 5 months old when she came and she stayed until she was 10 months old. It was particularly hard when Little Sister left because it was only 2 months after Katie had left. We had been blessed with "twins" for a short 5 months and then lost them both.

I cannot tell you how quiet and eerie it was to go from 2 babies to no babies. To only have 3 children in the house seemed very odd. By this time we had had a lot more training and were eating it up as fast as we could get it. We had learned a lot about grief and loss and felt a lot more prepared to help our children through these transitions.

 Our 11 year old articulates his feelings quite well and has worked through his grief in a healthy way at his own pace. The younger girls are not able to express how they feel very well and so it came out in their behaviors and attitudes. Some of that was hard to handle, but knowing that it was just their way of grieving really made a huge difference in how it felt and how we handled it.

I am sure that people who didn't know us must have thought that we were terrible parents. My 2 year old would hit me in the face and scream at me and I would hug her tight and repeat over and over, "I love you, sweetie, I love you so much! I am sorry you are sad." And she would stop hitting me and cry in my lap, hugging me back. It took the youngest a couple of weeks before she was ok to let me go somewhere without her and then one day she decided she was fine and I could go.

Our 5 year old needs a lot of attention normally, and so after losing 2 siblings in such a short time, she has needed A TON of attention. We've done everything we can to meet those needs and have seen huge improvements in her daily. She has moved through her grief a little more slowly than the others, but she has gone at a pace that is comfortable for her.

We have had such an amazing opportunity to help our kids through some tough stuff, and they are better and stronger for it. We have been taking a break for the past 2 months to find our new "normal" and to give our kids the time and attention that they needed to heal.

That is a snapshot of what our fostering/adoption journey has looked like over the last 3 1/2 years. I will be sharing more in depth about the realities of this journey in future posts. If you have any questions at all along the way, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!


  1. Rachel, all I can say right now is that only God could be able to give you this perspective, for you to be able to write so succintly about something that could take hours to describe! God's love is perfect, covers all, heals all wounds, overcomes everything, gives the strength to go on and take everything and turn it out for good. You have shown many of us that through trials and tribulations, He can take someone that is willing to do something for Him and those He so desperately loves, walk you through it with grace and love, teaching, building up, and strengthening every step of the way. Thank you for sharing so openly Rachel.

  2. This was a great snapshot Rachel. We are on our first placement and so we're having fun because everything is new! I hope anyone interested in fostering or adopting will stop in and read about your experiences to understand that it's really hard but also very rewarding.