‘At 27, I felt like such a child myself. I laid in bed and sobbed, wondering if I actually had what it took to love the most vulnerable in our city.’

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“I ripped open the envelope, knowing exactly what I would find inside. I peeled off the smiley face Post-it, reading the kind words from the teacher of my class, one of the directors of DHS in our community. I looked it over, studying all the details. This was it. Life is full of little moments that shift and change our direction – this was that moment.

At 27, I chose to become a single foster mom, the piece of paper I held made it official. Just months before I had made the decision to say yes, and after 30 hours of classes, pages of homework, creating space and bedrooms, I was ready. Well, as ready as someone can be for this sort of thing. Later that night I laid in bed and sobbed, wondering if I actually had what it took to enter into this calling. A calling for me that came from God, a calling to love the most vulnerable in our city. The orphans, the wounded, the hurting little souls that are our future. I questioned all of it, if I could do this as a single woman. How would I juggle the meetings, visits, school, work, housework and all the things I filled my days with?

At 27, I often felt like such a child myself. Just that week I lost my keys and forgot about a meeting I was leading. They want to give me children? What were they thinking? I was afraid. Would I be ready to hear their stories, to know their realities? Would I know how to handle the behaviors? Can I even parent? What if I fell in love with them and had to say goodbye? The tears flowed as the thoughts consumed me. This was the beginning of letting go. Little did I know how much more I would be required to do.

Melissa Pennington Photography

My heart gently reminded my spiraling brain this wasn’t about me, but them. That I was called to enter in, to step forward towards them, to say yes to them. I was trained, to help process and heal. I had the coping skills and the network to process anything that was thrown at me. I said ‘yes,’ and I entered in, in to the hurt, the brokenness, the ache, the loss, the stories, the trauma. Entering in is weighty and costly, but the price we pay pales in comparison to the price they paid, without choice. It looks like long nights and exhausting conversations. It looks like court hearings, family team meetings, biological parents and trauma induced meltdowns.

My first call came. There were three of them, siblings ages 7, 5 and 3. They had been in foster care over one year. I would be home number 5 for them in that year. They were hurting and in need of stability. I could provide love and stability. That I was confident in. So, the ‘yes’ came, and so did entering in.

I think to that night, four years ago, where I was so unsure of it all. Wondering what advice I would give myself, would I change anything? I wouldn’t, because even in the moments of unspeakable pain, I said yes and that process changed me. Rarely are we ready for the road ahead, but if we say ‘yes’ and enter in, embracing the teaching as it comes through experience, our lives will be filled with purpose, and we will be brave.”

Melissa Pennington Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Julianna Klepfer, a 30 something, single, foster/adoptive mama. She lives with her crew of seven, ages 11, 9, 7, 4, 3, 18 months and 6 months, their two dogs and 6 chickens in the hills of Iowa. You can follow along with her ever changing family at My Joyful Broken Heart.

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