“It was the summer of 2018. I was celebrating a milestone birthday and entering a new decade of life. It should have been one of those carefree summers, but I remember being caught at a personal crossroads.
The year leading up to this point was filled with significant life changes. My husband’s work took us to a large metropolitan city. We spent months packing up our lives, finding a new home, and transitioning schools for our three children. I also left my beloved job as a nonprofit CEO during the big move. In this new decade of life, I knew I wanted to make a difference with my newly found time.
On one ordinary summer day, while scrolling through my social media accounts, I saw a post that caught my eye. It was a story about a foster family that said ‘Yes!’ to an emergency placement. They similarly had three biological children and a busy lifestyle but found time to open their homes and hearts to children in need of a loving home. It was in that moment I knew my next calling was being a middle mama.
A foster mom to children during their greatest time of need. A foster mom to stand in the gap when their birth mother cannot be there. A foster mom to love them fiercely and advocate for their needs. A foster mom that graciously supports their birth mother and encourages reunification when possible.
This calling, however, was one of the most difficult things I have had to personally prepare for in my life. Anyone that knows me remotely well will tell you that I had to spend a lot of time coming to peace with my career. I turned down a new executive job and shortly after, decided it was time to share the fostering news with our community.
One friend said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this? This your dream job! The organization that you have wanted to work at for your entire career.’ Another friend shared, ‘I could never do that! I could never care for a child for months, even years, and then give them back.’
I ultimately had to trust and know God had a greater plan with this new direction. I spent a lot of time preparing, emotionally and spiritually, for this journey. I prayed constantly and also spent time in personal reflection on my own motherhood experiences.
Up to this point, I rarely talk about my personal struggles of being a young mom. I always hoped God would use this dark period for good and I am reminded of this Bible verse: “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)
During my early college days, I gave birth to my oldest biological daughter. I quickly found myself feeling outcasted from my social circles and struggling to take care of a newborn in a big city. I spent countless hours balancing sitter schedules, working desk jobs, and taking night classes. These hard chapters of life were literally spent doing everything possible to not become a statistic. I fought to obtain a college degree. I fought to secure a career at a leading nonprofit organization. I fought to provide the best possible life for my baby girl.
As I reflect on those chapters, I know any wrong decision could have resulted in an extremely different outcome. I have so much gratitude for my mentors, friends, and family members who encouraged and pushed me during this season of life. I wholeheartedly know I would not be where I am today without them.
I share this challenging part of my story because so many young moms are not as fortunate and find themselves in the foster care system. This calling is one small way I can extend grace, love, and support as well as walk alongside young birth mothers as others did for me.
Fast forward to fall 2020 — My husband and I are getting ready to renew our foster license for another year. The past 3 years in the foster care system have been filled with the greatest joys, challenges, heartaches, and celebrations of my life.
I have watched my family and children grow even closer as a unit. We have celebrated together. We have cried together. We have laughed together. We have loved together. Oh, we have loved so hard together. We have also grieved together. Most importantly though, together we have welcomed nine children in foster care into our home — Baby Girl, Sweet Boy, Music Man, Snuggles and Pumpkin, Jolly Boy, Little Fin, Baby Boy, and most recently, Miss Jules.
This summer, we said ‘Yes!’ to a newborn in foster care. It was the scariest, yet most amazing leap of faith on this journey to date. I like to tell my mom friends, ‘You had 9 months to prepare for your new baby. I had less than a week during a global pandemic!’
The day I met Miss Jules was not your typical hospital visit. I had to suit up in PPE, navigate hospital COVID checkpoints, and so many more steps to get special visitor access. I vividly remember being greeted by her hospital family and walking slowly into her warm room. I saw a tiny clear bassinet and peeked over to see the most precious baby girl. It’s a moment I’ll remember forever!
The nurses were beaming with happiness to introduce me to Miss Jules. She did not have a given name from her birth family yet, so I was surprised when the head nurse said, ‘Meet Julia. We call her Baby Julia. Julia Joy. She brings us so much joy!’ The head nurse then placed her in my arms and I knew in that very moment, her nickname was Jules.
They were getting ready to start her morning IV and let me rock her during the treatment. At the same time, they got me up to speed on her case. The details were hard to hear and all I could do was thank God for her wellbeing. It’s honestly a miracle she is here and home with us today.
My dream for Miss Jules, as well as every child in foster care, is for her to find healing and reach her fullest potential. I also dream of the day when every foster family is consistently supported by their local community. That is why, over a year and a half ago, I decided to dedicate more of my time to creating sustainable change in the foster care system. I joined forces with an adoptive mom to bring a chapter of a national foster care nonprofit, National Angels, to the Atlanta region.
Along the journey, eight passionate community members joined us in that charge. Every individual rolled up their sleeves to donate their time and God-given talents. This amazing team also fought to raise thousands of dollars during the COVID-19 crisis and build every single aspect of the newly launched nonprofit, Atlanta Angels.
Atlanta Angels walks alongside children in the foster care system, as well as their caretakers, by offering consistent support through intentional giving, relationship building, and mentorship. We believe not everyone is called to foster or adopt, but everyone can make a difference in a child’s life.
Today I want to leave you with one challenge — Will you join me in getting involved in your local foster care community? You can start by becoming a volunteer or by becoming a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer or respite care provider. You may even decide to start your very own foster parenting journey!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Alex from Your Middle Mama. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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