‘I am a single mom of 7 through foster care and adoption. Dating is hard enough. Adding 7 other humans into the mix feels impossible.’

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“Two years ago I experienced a really painful break up. Recently, I have realized that a lot of fear crept into my heart with the end of that relationship. As an effort to fight my fear, I signed up for online dating. I have many friends who have met really great partners through online. My current day to day life has minimal viable male options, so online seems to at least make my pool a little larger.

I share with you a section of my online dating bio.

‘…four and a half years ago I followed a call from God that radically changed my life, to pursue foster care as a single woman. I am the adoptive Mama of 4 awesome kids and foster Mama to 3, yes, that is 7 kids total. God told us to love orphans, widows and foreigners and I take that very seriously. Our dinner table is full with visitors of all backgrounds and realities. We are a packaged deal, quite a big one, but we are also some of the coolest people on the planet.’

I am a single mom of seven through foster care and adoption. Finding a life partner is hard enough as it is, adding seven other humans into the mix feels impossible. I am upfront in saying I need a man who can handle the package deal. I am looking for a husband and father. My days are full, time is limited and most days I have snot somewhere on my clothing.

Melissa Pennington Photography

Early in my journey of motherhood a well meaning relative made the comment, ‘Well, you’re certainly not making yourself more attractive to men by doing this.’ I must (and did) say, I disagree. For the wrong men I may be less attractive, but to the right man I am just right. I have gotten used to the reality that my story will always be a little a-typical, so I know that it may take me a little longer to find that life partner.

When I jumped into the foster care world over four years ago, I thought my singleness would limit me, as if my being one person instead a couple meant I had less to offer. What I once viewed as a handicap was actually a gift. Raising children exposed to trauma, in our case at the hands of men, means that we do life a little differently. Our daily life rotates around healing. We fight for it, seek it and ease into it.

My crew needed a single mama, they needed some time to heal. They needed to be the main recipients of my energy and love. Choosing to be a single mother of traumatized children has a price tag. There are days where I just don’t feel like I have enough to offer, where I am tired and depleted myself. I would be lying if I didn’t say that my heart aches for a partner and I have a deep longing for my kids to experience a healthy father figure.

Melissa Pennington Photography

I truly believe our family will heal much faster when a man does enter our world but I am not interested in rushing or forcing that. There is a deep kind of pain that can only find healing when pressed a bit by circumstances. Deep healing that takes place over time, layer by layer. For now our healing is talking about our someday dad, discussing both the good and hard things about having a dad. Most days we cry about it because trauma runs deep and healing comes slow.

If I can be a little honest, I am scared of him too. Scared for how it will affect our beautiful ecosystem and change our unique family. I worry that no one will ever love them as much as I do. I worry about the logistics of switching off single mom brain, allowing a co-parent to join us. I am afraid of getting hurt again. My step towards healing this season is stepping out and pressing the wound a bit.

My kids make me brave. I have watched these past 4+ years as they have pressed in and healed. So this is my act of pressing in, the vulnerability of writing these words in a effort to declare that I will not shy away from even this. Dating for our family means new healing, but also change. It feels bittersweet to me.

Melissa Pennington Photography

Most days there is this very real part of me that thinks if I am going to pay a sitter, then I am not going to risk that time on a bad date. Most days, if I got a sitter I would rather drink wine on a patio with my girlfriends, take a shower or just wander through Target.

There are days when I can’t imagine one more person needing something from me. Days when it seems I have lost all communication skills. Days when the thought of change is overwhelming and the calendar seems so full. I am in no hurry to step out of single motherhood but I also don’t want to be opposed to it.

These last 4+ years have made me better, my kids have changed me. They make me brave, fierce and more compassionate. They cause me to slow down, communicate better and stand taller. The silver strands that have popped up recently have been earned and my snot-covered attire reflects my love. This calling has not halted my status change, but enhanced it, and each day we live is one day closer to finding healing and to meeting him.”

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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