‘Just miles away, my 3 oldest children were living their nightmare. They spent that year bouncing between 4 homes until our paths crossed.’

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“I have been in awe over the years just how perfectly our lives collided. A series of yeses got me here, to them. When the ‘call’ came for me to pursue becoming a foster parent, I was 27, single and enjoying life. It was 2014, and it all happened so quickly. 6 months later, I was licensed wondering who would fill the beds of my home. Those six months I worked through the weight of the journey I was about to embark on, while I wrestled with changes and questions. Just miles away my oldest 3 children were living their nightmare. They spent that year bouncing between 4 homes until our paths crossed and we settled into forever.

My crew loves to look through old pictures. They want to know how old they were when I was backpacking through Montana as a 24-year-old, or how old they were when our now big dogs were small enough to be carried. We spent time trying to make a messy timeline of our overlapping existence.

I find myself and many around me in seasons of waiting. The things longed for vary, but the ache is known universally. Waiting is hard, the control is gone and the fear is real. We long to fill a tiny bed down the hall, a womb, a position or a halfway empty bed. We cross invisible finish lines, only to realize there is more path before us. Waiting is exhausting and hard.

Four foster children sitting on ground leaning against brick wall
Courtesy of Julianna Klepfer

There is a lot of waiting in foster care and adoption, time sitting in courtrooms, taking kiddos to visits, many countdowns to final days and long-awaited court orders. In my home we have waited for the return of little ones gone, the finality of cases and answers to endless questions.

The day I stepped into a foster care informational meeting, early 2014, I had no idea the trajectory I would find myself on. My timeline changed and I thought I would have more time before becoming an actual parent. The classes opened up and I moved down the path much quicker than originally planned, I just kept following my yes. That path got me done and licensed by May and in June, my crew was uprooted yet again. I had the beds and the awaiting arms, and we met in a beautiful collision. I waited those six months for them. I didn’t know it was then, but I filled out paperwork, dreamed, created space and waited, wondering just who they were.

Once we met, we waited another two years for our case to have some progression. We waited for the hearing and the call that said we could step into life together, forever. They waited 914 days, in uncertainty, fear and questions as they navigated the foster care system. In the midst of waiting we found our peace, grateful for the here and now. We found peace in the goodbyes, the visits and all the red tape.

Child's hands holding up sign that says, "We were in foster care for 914 days"
Melissa Pennington Photography

Seasons of waiting prepare us for the long-awaited arrival. Like a child on a long car ride we are wondering when we will arrive. I have found the longer the wait the deeper gratitude we have for what I have received. I longed for the wait to be over, I longed for the beds to be full and names to change. I longed for the answers, maps and the dates to all be squared away.

I wonder what would we do without the longing and the ache? What would be the trade off for silencing that portion of our heart? Longing and aching reminds me I am alive and that I am doing something that matters. Becoming a parent has taught me to wait, be it in doctor offices or public restrooms of Target. In parenting the days are long, but the years short. Being a foster parent kicks the waiting up a notch. I have watched over the last 4 ½ years as my family has slowly and thoughtfully grown.

The pain of loss has been present but in the waiting, beauty has grown. I suppose if I knew all that would have been on this road, it is possible I would have picked another route. I am thankful that the only map I really had the was the yeses, for those lead me to them. May we see beyond the ashes to the hope of things to come, to the beauty. As the forest flourishes after the fire, may we find that the green sprigs of life revealing to us, hope.”

Four children that were in foster care and are now adopted sit on outdoor steps of home beside pumpkin and flowers
Courtesy of Julianna Klepfer

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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