25 Dec WAITING FOR TWO (Part 1)
My husband Rusty and I only dated and were engaged for 8 months, but in that time we both had in our hearts that adoption was something the Lord had called us to do. Initially, we had thought that Africa would be the place that would provide the pitter-patter of little feet, yet God had His own way of shepherding us to His calling to serve locally through the foster system.
Have you ever had someone ask, “So, do you think this will be the last child?” after JUST delivering a new baby? Rapidly those questions were fired off to us after delivering our third child, and we thought it appropriate timing to look into our “overseas adoption” dreams. Anyone that has adopted internationally knows that the process is long and tedious, therefore we started looking for compatible agencies and countries while our youngest was turning one. After many dead ends, a non-existent savings account, and no good option for us to leave our 3 biological children in the US while we traveled for 4-6 weeks to Africa, Rusty gently stated his opinion. I say “gently” because he knew that I was the one toiling over websites, contacting agencies and putting in some solid hours of research. He said, “What if we answer this calling, but do it locally?” My horns went up and my “talk to the hand” face gave away my true feelings on this option. I didn’t want a “broken child” with all their drama and their baby-mama’s drama. I wanted to have the story of bringing home a child all the way from Africa and showing that sweet child off like a trophy. (As you can see, I have some pride and people-pleasin’ issues; sinful temptations that I have to lay down at the feet of Jesus often.)
A few weeks passed and I fought the Lord with this idea of adopting locally. My perfect overseas adoption story was changing and, although I like change, this plan was set in my heart for many many years and I felt it impossible to give up. In November of 2013, I agreed to “consider” the idea of adopting locally through the foster system and appeared at a local seminar with my husband to learn more about our options. I will never forget that day. As we watched a foster care video, I felt the Spirit moving within me. I was that woman trying to hold back the loud, ugly crying, but was very unsuccessful. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I couldn’t wait to get started. This was the first of many times the Lord would humble me in our journey, which would last another 4 years. I left the seminar feeling ashamed of my prideful behavior, broken by the real life stories told by children who have been in care, and driven to make an impact by adopting a local child that needed a home.
In December, we attended the “Introduction” meeting of a local agency and over the next 6 months we would complete our trainings to be an adoptive home through the foster system. In these days of waiting and taking classes, I was overwhelmed with sorrow. Sorrow that our future children were possibly experiencing neglect, abuse, and harm. Sorrow that I felt useless in helping them. During this time, I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling heavily burdened, beat down, defenseless and defeated. I was driven to my knees, pleading to the Lord to save these children from the devil and his destruction. My human hands could do nothing to help these babies, but I clung to the hope that my Savior would care for them. Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
Licensed in June of 2014, we waited for our first call which unexpectedly came from a friend in just 2 weeks. This friend who was just licensed to be a foster home and had just received an emergency placement out of Dallas, called and asked if we would consider a newborn with drug exposure that was left in the NICU of Plano Presbyterian. Since being licensed she had received 3 calls in 48hrs of newborns needing a home. Shaking while holding the phone and asking the basic questions, I didn’t really hesitate in my answer of, “YES.” In a matter of 2 weeks, we went from third on the list, to getting the call that said, “The last family really wanted a girl. Could you come pick him up tomorrow from the hospital?” Because this child was strictly a foster case, our agency worked overtime in about 24 hrs to get our license changed from an adoptive home to a foster/adoptive home. We scrambled to get the necessities, called in our support troops of family and friends to pray, and brought home our first placement on July 23, 2015.
If you remember from above, we weren’t even wanting to be a foster home, but God used this child as a way for us to open our hearts to fostering. When it came down to it, I could NOT say no to a child who had been left in the NICU. We even told Child Protective Services (CPS) and our Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) that if there were homes that were looking for a newborn placement in Collin County, please seek them out first. We had 3 kiddos at home and honestly did not expect a newborn to even be available. God clearly wanted this child to be in our home and He presented this evidence in so many ways upon him reaching our arms. CPS had told us that the parents had already lost their rights to other children in another state, so this case would likely move towards adoption. Upon hearing those words, we decided to rename this sweet baby boy. As we tossed around names within the first hour of having this child, we kept coming back to names that began with “J.” Our second birth child was almost named Jude, so after saying that name out loud again, my mother-in-law mentioned, “What about Judah?” It sounded right, but we agreed we needed to look up the meaning and its roots. The Lord brought us to tears when we read that, in the Bible, Judah was Leah’s fourth son and meant “Praise. The Praised One.” Decision made. We would call him Judah, and over the next 17 months we would love him like our own until the day he officially became ours on National Adoption Day in November of 2015.
Until we had officially adopted Judah, we kept our home “closed” as we adjusted and became a stable family of six. In that time period our world was shaken by the news that just 11 months after Judah was born, his birth parents had another baby boy, Mekhi, in May 2015. I remember driving as a family to Missouri when I saw pics of the birth dad and Mekhi on Facebook. I quickly reached out to our CPS worker to inform her of this child and immediately started praying for his well-being. Investigations were made and verdicts established that Mekhi was doing well in his parents care. Much like I had done while waiting for our first placement, I had to rely on the Creator of this child for his protection. He loved this child first, knew the hairs on his head, and would provide for his needs.
Coming into foster care and having 3 children, I would say that I had a “Type A” personality. This whole “foster-care instability and relying solely on the Lord” lifestyle was breaking down the walls of control that a “Type A” demands. In order to be sane and find joy in each day, I was having to give my worries and anxiety to the Lord each and every day. I would find myself singing “Do NOT be anxious about ANYTHING but in EVERYTHING by prayer and petition with THANKSGIVING present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) This always helped my son, Luke, battle his 4-year-old fears at bedtime, but the words were bringing unfathomable truth in my 30-yr old life.
For about 6 months, the waters were calm until about Thanksgiving when I read the birth-mom’s Facebook profile. Her husband (yes, they are married), Judah’s birth dad and now the father of a 6-month-old son, had tried to physically hurt her while holding Mekhi. Her life was in danger, therefore she called police. Police arrested the husband and took him to jail where he would stay for about 8 months. Next I was reading that the birth mom was buying a bus ticket to Galveston to stay with distant relatives. In the meantime, I was reaching out to all of Judah’s workers; the CASA worker, attorney, and CPS caseworker. It was too late. Once she left Collin County, all we could do is ask the officials in Galveston County to find her whereabouts. At this point we were told there was not much hope in finding her and the baby. Our CPS worker from Collin County told us she would be in touch if she heard anything.
About a week later, we were notified that officials in Galveston found the birth mom and baby. Both tested positive for drugs and the child was being placed with a foster family in Galveston. We got the number of the CPS official in Galveston and pleaded with them to transfer him up to North Texas to be with his brother. They wouldn’t do it, nor were they too interested in doing it anytime soon. We respected the rights of the birth mom and her desire to have visits with her son, so we stepped back and allowed Judah’s full-biological brother to be in the care of another foster home in Galveston County. In the meantime, we filled out some legal documents stating our interests in the child and would make regular check ups with the CPS worker in Galveston to check on mom/baby’s status. While we grieved that Mekhi was unable to join our family in that season, the Lord was showing us His faithfulness and provision through our foster care journey.
Come back next week to see how God continued to write this family’s story!