We were asked to write up our story of how we got into fostering, how we continue fostering and how this all pertains to James 1v27. It just so happens that James 1v27 is like a theme verse to our life, and something we refer to often.
I figured since I wrote this up, I might as well share it with all of you. Enjoy 💜
James 1v27 “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.”
You know how at the beginning of the year people come up with a word that they like to theme the year around? It could be things like healthy, or thrive, or grow, or contentment, or intentionality, or whatever else it may be. James 1v27 is kind of like our theme “word” for our life, for our family. It all started back when my husband and I first met. We met on a mission trip that the church sent over to Thailand to care for the orphans with Remember Nhu. We fell in love over our love of caring for the orphan… cheesy huh? But I mention that because it set us up for the life we would lead together.
After a very short dating and engagement period, we got married, then four short months later the church hosted an event called “Father to the Fatherless”. It was for those interested in mentoring, fostering or adopting. Chad and I had always talked about adopting – down the road a LONG way. But between his interest in mentoring, and our joint interest in adopting eventually, we figured it would be good to go. Little did I know, Chad was also interested in fostering. We wound up (accidently as I thought) in the breakout session for fostering. We both walked out knowing without a doubt that God was calling us to foster – that this was going to be one way our family expressed James 1v27.
The next week after the Father to the Fatherless event, we found out we were expecting our first baby! We laid out this desire to foster to the Lord and asked Him what He wanted to do with it, now that we were going to have a baby. We felt called to keep walking forward in the journey to fostering, but to do so slowly. It takes time to take the foster care classes, to get certified, and get to the point of being ready to take kids in, so we felt this was a good direction to go. When Naomi, our oldest, was 2 months old, we both felt Jesus was pulling us to take the next step and take the foster care classes. When she was 10 months old, we welcomed our first sibling set of two beautiful girls ages 8 and 10 into our home.
We were beyond excited, incredibly nervous, and really had NO clue what we were doing! We had a 10 month old after all… not any older kids! But this sense of excitement, nervousness, and having no clue what we were doing became our new normal – and in all honesty is STILL our “normal”, almost four years into fostering! But that’s the beauty of it all. We are just a normal family, with normal emotions, normal hearts, normal calls on our life… we are just following through with what Jesus has asked us to do… to care for the orphans in our community.
Fostering for us is just that. Normal. These kids, OUR kids, are just normal kids. They are normal kids that have had awful, traumatic things happen to them. They are normal kids that have been dealt a really tough hand in life. And we get to LOVE them like crazy! We get to be there for the first smiles and giggles, for the first steps, for the huge smiles, for all the anger, for all the tantrums, for the disappointment when their bio parents don’t show up for a visit, for the heartbreak when they learn they don’t get to go back home… ever. We get to be there for all of that. We get to bring Jesus into all of those moments. We get to experience the high highs and the low lows with our kids. We get to teach them about the unending, never failing, incredible love Jesus has for each of us. We get to teach them they are worth it, that they deserve the absolute best. And that is exactly what we feel Jesus means in this verse. Caring for our kids means we do all the “regular” caring you do for your own kids, and on top of that, you step in to deal with the HOURS of appointments, the hours of driving around to visits, the hours spent on the phone fighting for our kids’ best interest, the hours spent in court every few months, the difficulty that co-parenting with the state brings, and the ever complicated aspect that parenting kiddos with huge trauma has to offer.
In just under four years of fostering, we have had 11 kiddos in our home. Most have been older (around 8-12 years old), but this last fall we took in a baby. He was 28 hours old. I picked him up from the bassinet at the nurses’ station at the hospital. I walked out of the hospital with someone else’s baby. THAT was a new and different situation that brought all sorts of emotions that we hadn’t experienced yet. The strongest emotion it brought to me was a sense of my heart completely breaking for this little guys mama. She had 24 hours with her baby. 24 hours. Then she was right back into the prison. Having given birth three times myself, I truly grieved for this mama I knew so very little about. Healing without her baby in her arms. Milk coming in without her baby there to consume it. Hormones RAGING as they do after giving birth, and not getting to smell his sweet newborn smell. This was the first time that my heart truly broke for the bio parents. Sure, with each of our kids I think of their parents. Most of the time we have had interactions with their parent(s). But this time was different. This time I feel Jesus brought forth another portion of James 1v27 to action – to care for the orphan AND the widow. Granted, she didn’t have a husband who passed away, but the baby’s dad was in prison as well so she didn’t have his support. I felt Jesus was pulling me in to care for this baby’s mama. But Jesus, HOW do I do that? She is in prison! I’m not even approved to go into the prison to meet with her. He answered, as He always does… “Write to her”. So I did. And I have continued writing since that first day we brought him home. I have sent these letters to her, and they have become a lifeline for her, and for the baby’s daddy too. It has brought a sense of peace and a huge relief to them to know more about us, the family caring for their baby. It has established a sweet relationship between me and his mama. I got to meet her for the first time about a month ago, and it was an incredibly amazing moment as we were able to hug one another – mama to mama – loving the same baby so fiercely. Since then, she has shared what an incredible support that we have been to her. That she feels empowered and READY to fight to be clean and sober and get on the right track for her son because of our support. That to me is one way Jesus has called us to care for the widow.
Now I don’t want you to think we have it all together, that we are perfect… because we are FAR from that. We mess up all the time. We say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, hit triggers in our kids that we didn’t know were there, and have to ask for Jesus’ amazing, unfailing forgiveness and grace all the time. But every time He meets us there with more forgiveness and grace than we even knew existed. He continues to fill us up to the point that we can keep going. That we can grieve when they leave, we can cry until there are no more tears, and then we can answer the phone and say “yes” to the next placement. Because this is our normal and because God is just so, so good.