“‘So, do you want kids?’
‘How do you feel about adoption?’
‘I think it’s great.’
This was pretty much the gist of our conversations about children. Especially when we started dating. Let me rewind a little, though! Alex and I attended the same college. He was majoring in missions and I was majoring in deaf studies. During our sophomore year, we took a public speaking class together. I remember thinking he was cute, but it didn’t really go past this because he didn’t have long hair, piercings, or tattoos. One day, he gave a how-to speech on changing a bicycle tire. He stood there at the front of the class, making small talk… and then he started rolling up his sleeves. I thought, ‘OH MY WOW. He has nice forearms!’ I was (maybe) a little more interested in him after.
Weeks passed and one day, I ended up in a random discussion with friends about reading the Bible from beginning to end. I told everyone I was trying to get through it, but couldn’t because I was stuck in Leviticus. I then made the huge mistake of saying Leviticus was extremely boring. Alex was listening. ‘Leviticus is full of good stuff!’ he said. ‘Look. You meet me here every day, and we will read it together. I’ll help you get through it.’ I wasn’t at all excited about his proposal. But I did it, and he kept his promise. Every day I spent with him, my heart grew more and more fond of him. He made Leviticus interesting and I loved this. I remember feeling sad once we reached the end of the book. After we read the last chapter, we both kind of sat there in silence.
Then, he looked at me and said, ‘So… you wanna read Numbers together?’ I smiled and said yes. A few months later, he took me out on our second date. Alex wasn’t the type of guy I would usually go for. I remember being up at night walking around my room trying to figure out why I liked him. He was clean-cut… not a single piercing (to my knowledge) and he didn’t have any tattoos. HA! I wasn’t even sure if he liked me that much. He was a pure country boy, and I am somewhat of a city girl. Still, I found him very intriguing. After agreeing to the second date, I started wondering if he would want to make it ‘official.’
We went to a park near the school, walked around, and talked (I still to this day love talking to him). We sat on a bench and he put his arm around me, smiled real big, and said, ‘You wanna be my girlfriend?’ He was all up in my face, too! I was so shocked at how sure he was of me. I smiled and said, ‘Are you sure?’ I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t happening!’ He assured me this is what he wanted, and I told him I would love to be his girlfriend. We dated for 10 months. 10 months of getting to know each other and becoming more and more inseparable. 10 months of learning about each other’s cultures and embracing each other’s differences.
Our families grew closer, we had good times and bad times. We leaned on the Lord as we worked through struggles and built each other up. We started looking at rings and talked about marriage often. One day, I saw him coming back to campus wearing khakis and a sweater. I thought, ‘Aww. He went and got my ring today!’ I asked him why he was so fancy (for Alex, this is fancy) and he told me all his other clothes were dirty and was behind on his laundry. Ha! Then, on a rainy day in November, he asked me to go out with him. I noticed he was wearing the same outfit he wore when he was ‘behind on his laundry.’ We went to dinner and had a great time.
I was thrown off because he didn’t seem nervous or anything. I began to think maybe this was all in my head. But I knew something had to be up because he was wearing his ‘fancy’ clothes! We drove back to campus (now I was really thrown off), he got out and opened my car door like always. He took my hand, got down on one knee in the rain, and asked me to marry him. I smiled and took the ring from him so I could look at how beautiful it was. He gasped and said, ‘Hey! You can’t just take it from me! I have to put it on! … And, is that a ‘yes?’ I gave the ring back, smiled, and said, ‘Yes!’ After a 13-month engagement, we finally got married and started our lives together. About 2 years in, we decided to start the family we always dreamed of. We wanted a large family, and we were open to this possibility however it happened.
We knew we wanted biological and adopted kids eventually. So, we began to try and conceive, and we also signed up for our foster care licensing classes. The plan was to get pregnant and have a baby first and then adopt, but we wanted to have our license so we could be ready whenever God wanted us to start to foster and adopt. Well, the foster kids started coming… and coming and coming. It got to the point where we would get a phone call whenever we started talking about trying for a biological child. Still, we tried. It wasn’t happening for us. There were complications (issues of pain for me) I tried to find answers for, but couldn’t.
As time when on, I became more and more frustrated with my body. The pain in my heart only intensified. I really wanted to experience what it was like to be a biological mother. Alex felt the same but was so supportive and positive. We were kept pretty busy being foster and adoptive parents. We have 1000 stories from our 10 years in foster care. Perhaps the most unlikely was how we got our first placement, who would eventually become our first son, Eli. Aside from family, another one of my passions is sign language and deaf culture. Part of the reason we wanted to adopt was so we could have a deaf child. We had told several people from the agency throughout our training we wanted to adopt a deaf child.
They kindly told us what a great ambition it was, but tried to temper our expectations. After all, they never really had any deaf children in foster care. We thankfully accepted their cautions—and we knew it was a long shot, anyway—but we kept this little dream in our hearts. Low and behold, when we were late in the licensing process, our home study worker called us and asked if we still wanted to foster a deaf child. Well… YES! It turns out she was walking by the cubicle of another caseworker and overheard her saying she had a deaf child who was likely to get adopted eventually, but she needed to find a family who would want to foster him throughout the process, then adopt him in the end. So, 2 weeks before we were even fully licensed—we were waiting on approval from a state office—there was a little boy waiting for us, his forever family, to bring him home.
Eli was the first of what would be 14 kids to come through our home over the last 10 years. Of those kids, four have moved on to go back to biological family members. We’ve adopted seven (Eli’s biological baby brother included) and three are still in care. We hope to have them fully adopted this summer. Becoming foster and adoptive parents is one of the best decisions we’ve made together. It has personally taught me so much about how to love without fear. I’m still a work in progress, but to constantly be put in a position to love a child with all your heart without fear of them leaving you is incredibly hard. I’m still learning. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.
We love our children. They are worth everything. Alex and I never expected our family would start this way, but it did. We are just rolling with it, and boy has it been a crazy ride. Yes, the most amazing journey. Like all journeys, though, this one will soon come to an end. Our state caps you at ten children. About 3 years ago, Alex and I were having another heart-to-heart about our longing for biological children. We had already adopted six children, and at this point, we had been trying for about 8 years. Eight years of frustration, tears, worry, and just sadness surrounding this issue. During our conversation that night, Alex looked at me and said, ‘Amber, what if we are supposed to max out our home?’
We both froze. Remember how I said our state caps families at ten kids? That’s ten, no matter what. They could be adopted, still in foster care, or biological, and it would still count. In this moment, it hit us like a ton of bricks. For every biological child we had, it would be one less child we would have been able to pull out of the system. In this moment, we really believed God was showing us what we were called to do for this season. We both started crying. It pushed us forward to finish the race, and here we are. We are patiently waiting for our final adoption case to go through, and then our foster care journey will be over.
We could see it coming, so Alex and I made a promise to each other to commit to focusing on our relationship and getting all of our questions answered surrounding why we hadn’t conceived. We are hopeful, we are determined, and we are excited about this new chapter in our lives. We have now been married for thirteen years, and it feels like we are starting all over…something new. It’s exciting! I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know when I look back at everything we’ve been through, and when I look at our children, I’m reminded of how incredibly blessed we are. It’s such an honor to be a mother…to be their mother.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amber of Ohio. You can follow their journey on Instagram and their podcast. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more beautiful stories about foster care and adoption:
‘She was sitting in a shelter with no place to call home. A teenager, she’d already given up on being adopted. Then I received a text: ‘Hey, Autumn. You still interested in foster care?’: Couple adopt teenager from foster care
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