This story was written by Jacob*, a foster father.
“We were in our final interview of the foster care licensing process when our licensing worker asked if we would take on three little girls. When we thought of these three babies, (6 months, 18 months and almost 4 years old) in need of a home together, we knew we needed to seriously consider taking them. Of course at first, we were both a little worried. Three kids! We had zero children, having found out that biological children wouldn’t be possible for us. But we joyfully decided to follow our lifelong dreams of being foster and adoptive parents, exclusively. We prayed about these girls and right away felt like, hadn’t we said yes to them when we said yes to God about fostering in the first place? I just remember the thought that we had a place to house them, food to feed them and a place for them to sleep… so how could we just turn them away?
Not to say that going from zero to three kids was easy! It wasn’t! But during the time that we had them, (we called them “our three girlies”,) it really showed me what God can do. Here we were, newlyweds still and in over our heads with three children from hard places with big needs and big feelings. The three sisters definitely showed us the highs and lows of fostering. They forced us to grow quickly and we learned so much, the most important lesson being what God can do when you say yes.
There are many emotions that you will feel as a first-time foster parent: discouragements, fear of not being up to par, unrealistic expectations, guilt, stress and heartbreak. There is also the laughter, fun, joy of watching your children succeed and grow and the intense love! Being a parent is all that and much more mixed together. It’s definitely a learn-as-you-go thing. It is a beautiful tornado.
We grew to love these girls in such a short time. I remember how protective I felt of them the moment we met them in the shelter and how the love grew every day from then on. There is nothing that compares to the love and feeling we got from seeing each little child smile and progress every day. We co-parented well with biological family and worked together for the good of the girls.
On the day we had finally picked up our girls from the shelter, our licensing worker said to us, ‘Foster care is having a really good day today.’ Then, we told her the same thing on the day we drove them home to their biological family. The face our oldest daughter made on that drive, I’ll never forget. For her, it was extreme relief and joy of going home for good. We felt that too! It also broke our hearts a little. To be honest, in that moment I felt like I couldn’t face the heartache of going through the loss again.
We took a short break and weren’t even sure that we could handle another placement. Our marriage, nerves and hearts had been through the wringer. Don’t let anyone trick you into believing that fostering or parenting in general is easy, because it’s not. But we did one thing that I hope to pass on to others as advice… We prayed and confided in God. God opened up our hearts again and helped us to see the good that we did in those three sweet girls’ lives.
Now we have our girl Penny* who we picked up from the placement center when she was two days old. She turned one year old in April. She is the most amazing little girl and we couldn’t be more in love. Through the roller coaster of her health concerns and a very tricky case, never once did I question if she is my family. I know in my heart that she is my daughter and she sees me as her father. She has blessed our lives immensely.
For me, fostering has brought me closer to God. There’s no way that my entire life I’ve been in the right place at the right time and had everything fall in line just by chance. It took God to align everything perfectly so that I could be the man I needed to be for my family. God worked everything for good in my life and in the lives of each of our four daughters.
God taught my wife and me how to be parents and how to face challenges as a couple and a team. There’s no way we could have been who we needed to be for these girls and for their birth families had we not had God there with us. God has moved some serious mountains in all of our lives. We have seen more miracles than we can count.
We don’t know exactly what the future will bring. But we are sure that eventually, it will include more children. We feel the calling toward older kiddos needing a safe home, and that is God talking to us directly. We are in tune to God now more than ever. We understand His love as a Father in a new way.
My heart went from being fearful and worried about how all this was going to work out to being strong in my faith and marriage. We have been so blessed with the sweet smiles and laughter of our precious kids. Fostering can sometimes be held as this thing that people do as a gift to children, but we see fostering as God’s gift to us. He’s taken imperfect people and used us to make a difference in the lives of children and families.”
*names changed for confidentiality