“As I sit down after a long tiring day, my eyes wander over the chaos that lays before me. Toys are strewn across the room, dirty dishes stacked neatly by the sink and a mountain of clean laundry, mostly baby blankets, onesies, and toddler pajamas, waiting to be lovingly folded and tucked into the appropriate drawers.
My life didn’t always look like this. There was a long time, years in fact, where my life was neat and orderly. I dutifully filled out my day planners, stayed on top of paperwork, and organizing the household bills. Our home was kept neat and tidy and I had spare time to organize my closets. It’s difficult to equate the life I’m living now with the one I used to have.
I spent years longing for motherhood, longing for the beautiful, incredible mess of raising children. We spent 7 years trying to become a family. After countless sorrows, month after month of holding each other in doctors’ offices, clinging to the hope there was a greater plan for us, a path we weren’t seeing yet, we walked away from it all. We left behind appointments, invasive procedures, tests, medications, and ER visits and we chose each other. I was married to my best friend in the whole world, wasn’t that enough? We lived a blessed life. We weren’t just partners in marriage or sharing a home. We had a deep friendship, a love, and a life I hadn’t known was possible. Couldn’t that be enough?
One night as we lay in bed talking about the future, my husband whispered, ‘You were made to be a mother, it’s all you’ve ever wanted.’ Maybe motherhood isn’t all I ever wanted, but it’s the greatest dream I have ever imagined. Motherhood is what I wanted more than anything else, aside from my love and life with Philip. ‘But I have you. And I have Jesus, and we have a good life,’ I would respond, and it was true.
Life kept moving, kept passing by and we created a beautiful life. We traveled. We remodeled homes. We were one of those couples that treasured and enjoyed each other’s company above all others. Then one night as we drove home, music playing softly, our hands entwined, watching the prairies roll by on the old familiar highway, my husband anxiously squeezed my hand and said, ‘I have to tell you something and I don’t want you to be upset.’ I couldn’t imagine what he had to tell me that would upset me… did he lose his job? Were we moving?
After a long silence as he tried to work up his nerve, suddenly the words spilled out of his mouth, ‘I think we should become foster parents. I know we said we could never do it, but I think we need to think about foster care.’ I looked at him in shock, half wanting to laugh about the dramatic lead-up and half thinking he was joking. Friends and family had suggested foster care to us over the years and we had researched it, even went as far as to talk to a recruitment worker but ultimately, decided we had experienced enough loss and sorrow, we didn’t need to ask for more. Looking back, I now realize we were thinking only of ourselves in that scenario.
As I tried to find words to reply, Philip quickly continued, ‘I know we always said foster care wasn’t for us and it shouldn’t be a secondary choice or way to have a family. I just keep thinking about all the love we have, there are so many children in need of safety and love, and we have so much of that to give. Doesn’t it seem so simple? Maybe we need to stop thinking about it as a way for us to have a family, and consider it an opportunity to be a support to another family that needs us. Maybe we need to think less about us.’
That’s all it took to convince me. Suddenly, it became perfectly clear what we were supposed to do. I believe in perfect timing and in God’s calling in our lives, and I believe everything that happens in our lives has a purpose. Every hardship and victory brought us to that crucial moment, to that scary, overwhelming, cautiously excited conversation that happened that night as we drove down a quiet road. The next day, I called the recruitment officer and asked how to start the process to become foster parents. 8 months later, we became licensed foster parents, and a few weeks later we brought our son home.
We didn’t know he was our forever son, we just knew this beautiful, charming, hilarious, adorable 23-month-old needed someone. And we needed him. When we first laid eyes on him, there was a deep connection, a mutual sharing of hard roads taken to bring us to this defining moment. I’ll never be able to fully put into words what we felt, but I knew this child was a part of me, his little life already a part of my heart. This child made me a mother, whether he stayed for a season or forever, we were entwined. Little did we know, 18 months later, he would legally become a part of our family, but the truth is, he became our family the day we laid eyes on him and heard his story. A story that is truly miraculous.
It has been 4 years since that sweet little boy came home to us. 4 years of being parents. In those 4 years, 15 incredible children have come to our home, have been held in our arms for love and protection, welcomed into our families, and etched their names on our hearts.
All those years ago, in the aching, yearning, and hopelessness, I knew better days were coming. I didn’t know those days would be filled with children, many, many children. I didn’t know my days would consist of court hearings, and medical appointments for my son with a rare disease, or countless hospitalizations for my tube-fed babies, or months of tests for my toddler having repeated seizures. If you could have told me about the middle of the night phone calls, the horrors I would witness, the battles I would fight or the bittersweet emotions of bringing a baby home from the hospital, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I couldn’t have imagined not only loving the children that came to us but loving their families and fighting for them, fiercely. I couldn’t have envisioned loving a child with every part of me, raising him, helping him heal in so many ways, and 18 months later, handing him back to his mama in a bittersweet reunification. I couldn’t have imagined standing in court, supporting the parents of our children, celebrating their triumphs and wins, knowing it meant a loss for us. I never imagined so much joy and heartache could live in one place and abide together.
I believe there is a reason we aren’t allowed to see the future. There is a reason God only shines His light on the step in front of us and doesn’t show us the entire journey. I don’t think we could handle all the pain and all the beauty at one time. I also believe He wants us to trust Him, recklessly and fully. In my season of longing for motherhood, I couldn’t have imagined this life. Today, five little boys call me Mama, some through foster care, and some through adoption, all of them through love.
So as I gaze at my messy home, and smile at all the signs of the many little people that share my home and heart, I don’t for a moment wish for my past life – that orderly, well-planned life. I savor the messes and exhaustion, the overflowing calendar, the messes, and sticky kisses and hugs. There is so much beauty around me, but mostly, there is so much love. Every aching, longing, heartbreaking moment was worth it to get here. I have a front-row seat to more love, miracles, and restoration than I ever knew possible. This view was worth the wait.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Charity. You can follow their 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.
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