“About 2 and a half years ago, I purchased my first home and I planned on using my new space for God’s glory. At the time, I was leading a singles ministry and planned to just host a few events. Little did I know God had another plan. Full-time ministry in my home with foster care down the line. I have a 12-year-old daughter and work two to three days a week as a hairstylist. My career has given me the freedom to provide for my family and still have the time to do ministry.
About 6 years ago, I was at a restaurant picking up my to-go order. I ran into a friend and found out the guy she was eating with happened to be my old foster brother, who lived with us when I was in elementary school. I hadn’t seen or even spoke to him in over 15 years. I reached out to him later on social media after putting it all together. He told me, ‘I had some of the best memories at your house. In fact, that’s where I learned a lot of my manners. I learned from your mom and dad.’
Ever since that moment, God had really been placing foster care in my heart. Both my parents and grandparents had fostered children, but I never in a million years thought I would be taking on foster care. I thought to myself, ‘I’m not capable of foster care because I’m a single mother and no agency would allow it anyway.’
6 years later, that little desire was now bigger and I felt an urgency to start the journey. I put in an application at one of our local churches to join a seminary-level program called Residency. I had also decided I would finally call around to different foster care agencies to see what it was all about. With lots of prayer and questions, God had answered them all.
Roughly 10 days later, I had received an email saying the church had lost my application to Residency, and then just a few short minutes afterward, I got a call from one of the local agencies. The representative said, ‘You can be licensed in just a few short months.’ God was leading every step of the way.
I knew my singleness was a gift and God made it clear to me what he wanted me to do in this season. I knew it would not be easy. In my selfishness, God humbled me, broke me, and helped me prioritize His will over mine. Obedience over convenience. I knew once I stepped into this journey, I no longer could do it all. After I became licensed to foster children, I knew it was time to step down leading the singles ministry.
The next day, I dropped my daughter off at school and the phone rang. It was the call beginning our foster care journey. A call from a social worker who asked, ‘Would you welcome in a 12-year-old girl?’ She was just 3 months older than my daughter.
Since then, I’ve had eight children stay at my home. The youngest has been an infant and the oldest was 18. The journey has been challenging, but with God by my side, all of it was made possible.
I witnessed a teenage mom give her life to Christ and then just weeks later, I had the pleasure of baptizing her in front of hundreds of people at our home church. She got her first job, a bank account, a driver’s license, a car, graduated high school, started college, and moved into her first apartment.
I watched my foster son, age 6, enter my home singing an inappropriate rap song. He left my home singing ‘Church Clap’ by Lecrae. God had changed the song in his heart.
I had a placement of a 5-year-old over a weekend and the next Monday, we had to show up for a meeting. Ten different family members showed up to take him in under their wings until things were figured out.
I was the stepping stone for a 12-year-old girl who found her forever home rooted in Christ.
I built some strong, lasting bonds with a few teenagers who I had provided a home for temporarily.
Eventually, God entrusted me to bring home a baby boy from the hospital. I got the best baby snuggles and enjoyed some of the most precious first moments with him, all while encouraging and loving on his mama as she received the help she needed.
After doing this for a year and a half, adoption was on my heart but I don’t know if God had that for me now, as a single mom. I have to be honest, I didn’t always say yes to every call I received. Sometimes saying yes was the most selfless decision I could make at the moment and other times, saying no was.
One day in the middle of work, I got a call about a baby who was given up by his mom at the hospital, most likely to be adopted. I didn’t know what to do. I had such little time to decide. I was asking God for clarity. At the time I was doing an in-depth study on Genesis. Abram and Sarai wanted children, which God had already promised them, but it wasn’t happening on their timing. They had their servant, Hagar, bear a child for them. They named him Ishmael, which meant he wasn’t needed, he was an outcast. Although they did not make the right decision, God was still faithful and gave them Isaac years later.
It was with that faith in God, I decided it would be selfish of me to say yes when I knew I was still questioning it. I knew there had been many families who were ready and would say yes without a doubt. So I told the social worker, ‘I have to decline.’ Later the next day, the social worker texted me, saying, ‘A family has taken him in. They’ve named the baby Isaac.’ How awesome God had his hand in every single detail. He was faithful, letting me know the decision I had made was one aligning with His will.
I took in these children thinking I’d help them, but little did I know they would also be helping us. With every child that entered our home, we learned God’s love is and will always be limitless. When I felt like I had nothing left to give, God gave me the strength to give more.
I never fully grasped what empathy was until I had to climb down into the hole with these children, in hope that with Jesus, I could help pull them out. I learned it is possible to live with a broken heart. I also have learned that my shoulders are capable of carrying a burden no child should ever have to carry.
With God, all things are possible, there is beauty in the brokenness.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jennifer Thatcher. You can follow her journey on Instagram. 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.
Read more inspiring stories about foster care:
‘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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