So, May is Foster Care Awareness Month. A sweet friend, who has adopted 3 children from the foster care system, asked me to post a little something about our journey. A few months ago I posted an abridged version of Cooper's story. To see that post you can go to gotcha day. So as I pondered and prayed about what to post...here's what I came up with.
I have always known I wanted to adopt. I LOVE children! When I was growing up a family who went to our dance school were foster parents. I watched as this mom (of i think 3 biological children and 2 or 3 adopted children) walked into the studio with precious little babies every week. Some were tiny, some were toddlers, I'm sure they had some with "issues", but as a child I remember watching this family and knowing I wanted to be like them. I remember watching the children, the adopted and biological kids, love on their foster brothers and sisters as if they were their own. I remember thinking what amazing missionaries these people were, they were willing to sacrifice ease and comfort to love and provide for these children who had no one.
So fast forward 10ish years. Clay and I had talked before we were married that we wanted to adopt. I had gone to, and completed nursing school, was working on a pediatric unit. Clay was in seminary and I wanted a family SO badly! I got pregnant and miscarried. I was devastated. As a struggled through the next few months watching, what felt like, everyone around me getting pregnant I thought maybe this was God's way of showing us we needed to be foster parents and adopt before we had biological children. We signed up for the classes, jumped through all of the hoops and became licensed. During that time I got pregnant again, miscarried again, was able to diagnose why I was miscarrying and got pregnant with Cole. We were over the moon excited about having a baby, but Clay and I felt like just because we were going to have a biological child didn't mean God didn't want us to continue with foster care and adoption. We continued to move forward. When I was about 4 months pregnant, Susanne (my sweet friend who was also Cooper's foster mom) called and said she had a baby she thought would be going up for adoption, would we be interested? We prayed about it and decided we did. We went and met Romeo, a 3 month old sweet, chubby, beautiful Hispanic baby. We fell in love immediately. Long story short, after months of caring for him, the system decided we weren't the best choice for him. It broke our hearts. We weren't sure why God would bring this sweet baby into our lives only to take him away. Clay and I prayed and grieved, and trusted that God had a bigger plan for this sweet baby.
So, after an emergency C-section and surgery to remove my gallbladder 5 weeks later it was time for re-licensure with the foster care system. We decided with a new baby and 2 major surgeries we should not get re-licenced until things settled down a bit. As it turned out, the sadness over losing Romeo (who we were going to name Logan), all the work we put into becoming foster parents, and only fostering 2 children, paved the way for us to adopt Cooper, the perfect addition to our family.
Now, with all of that said, I want to be clear. When we were presented with the opportunity to adopt Cooper we had to do some serious praying. On paper Cooper had a lot of issues. Clay and I had to accept that their could be some challenges ahead. In God's great sovereignty I was blessed to be in a family that had some "strugglers". The prospect of a child with some "struggles" didn't scare me to much because i was able to watch my parents raise some amazing children despite their struggles. But I also wasn't entering this new stage of life lightly. We were ready! We felt like God had led us on this journey to that point, and just because it may not be easy, that was no reason to throw in the towel. We were confident Cooper, just the way he was made, was meant to be ours. I tell people often that if they are called to foster care or adoption, their may be heart ache and frustration, but the child God has for you will be yours. We have been able to watch God do a mighty work in Cooper's life. Cooper is a perfectly healthy, spunky, brilliant, sweet, gentle, caring little boy. The funny thing is when people ask us which one of our children are adopted all of them raise their hands and scream, "I'm the adopted one!" We are so blessed God called us to be a part of growing his kingdom this way and are so excited to adopt a few more children one day soon.....yes, I know, we are crazy!