“Tristan and I got married just a month after I graduated from high school. As high school sweethearts, we have grown up together and who we are has changed so much. One thing that has stayed the same though is my desire for a big family and to adopt.
When we were just a couple of kids, I told Tristan I wanted 12 kids of my own someday. I knew then I wanted to adopt at least a few of them but hadn’t thought long about which route of adoption I wanted to take, leaning toward international adoption at the time. Tristan was so in love, he probably would have agreed to anything, so he said he wanted a big family too. We got married and I dropped my big family goals down to just six kids and that’s where I’ve landed for now.
We started having kids in our third year of marriage. We still wanted to adopt someday but wanted to try out becoming parents the old-fashioned way first. Tristan was in the Army and he was stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia. We had a cute little townhouse we could not wait to leave. Looking back though, we both have a lot of fond memories of that place.
When I was just 3 months pregnant with our first, Tristan called me from work with devastating news. He had orders to go to South Korea. We started talking logistics, but mostly I was just a blubbering hormonal mess. I could go with him and he’d be there for 2 years or he could go alone and just be there a year. We talked to the family about it, we prayed about it, and ultimately, I left the decision up to Tristan, knowing he’d do what was best for all of us.
I ended up staying in the states and moving back to Indiana to live with my parents while Tristan left for South Korea, alone. Thankfully, he was able to come back in the fall for the birth of our daughter, Maxine, and we even got to visit him in Korea for 3 weeks that spring. It was a tough year, but overall, surprisingly good. It was during that time God planted the foster care seed on my heart.
At the time there were seven people living in my parent’s 1,844 square foot house. I am the oldest of four and my three younger brothers were all still in school. My parent’s door has always been open to anyone though, so there were usually more people there, including two of my brothers’ girlfriends every night. After I put Maxine to bed, in the bedroom we shared, I escaped to the only other room in the house that didn’t have other people in it: the bathroom. I was relaxing in the bathtub, reading several blogs when I came across one that changed my view of foster care forever.
At this point, I was seriously considering fostering as a means to someday adopt a child, but I just couldn’t get over the what-ifs… What if I fall in love with them? What if they have to go back to their biological parents? What if I never see them again? What if my heart gets broken? Then I stumbled upon Jason Johnson’s blog and found a post titled, ‘Foster Care: Loving a Child That Might Leave,’ and my foundation of ‘what ifs’ crumbled and were rebuilt.
Johnson was talking to a friend, and fellow foster father, about the same fears I had and this is what he wrote: ‘He said that for him and his wife, they were committed to experiencing the pain of loving a child they might lose if it meant a child who has lost so much could experience the gain of their love.’
What? You mean foster care isn’t about me? Johnson goes on to say, ‘In the end, our call is to fully love these children while we have them and accept the costs we may incur as worth it for the gain they may receive. This is nothing more than what Jesus has done for us. He joyfully laid down the infinite value of His own life so that we might know the immeasurable worth of being fully and unconditionally loved in Him. Foster care is a beautiful expression of the gospel. It demands a selfless, costly, and potentially painful love for the sake of a child gaining much as you willingly give all. As we labor to love with the love, we ourselves have received from Jesus, we do so in a cloud of uncertainties and unknowns, but with the confidence of one guarantee — it’s always worth it. Always.’
My world was rocked. I started thinking, what if these kids never experience the gospel? What if we can give them a safe and loving home for a little while? What if I can teach my biological children about showing love and grace and acceptance, no matter the costs, by setting the example?
While there’s never a right time to completely uproot your life and start fostering, we knew while Tristan was in the army was absolutely the wrong time for us. So, we anxiously waited. After getting home from Korea he still had 3 years left before he could get out. We moved back to Virginia, but this time to Fort Story. We lived on the beach and loved it. After about a month in our new house, in August 2018, Tristan came home with great news. There was a clerical error that happened to work out in our favor. If he didn’t reenlist, he could be out of the army by that April. Looking back, I know this error was God’s perfect timing and power in action. We bought a house in Indiana and moved back that year. I was pregnant with our second daughter and we wanted to get settled into our new home, jobs, and lives before adding even more chaos to our family.
Willow was born in October of 2019 and the following January, I had had enough waiting. I was absolutely ready for what I knew God was calling me to. Unfortunately, Tristan was a little more apprehensive, and clearly, I couldn’t do this without him. He wasn’t completely against the idea, but he thinks a lot more logically than I do and he had some very valid concerns. But we decided it wouldn’t hurt to call and ask a few questions. Both of the sets of foster parents I knew personally and who lived near us, recommended the same agency, KidsPeace. We called them and somehow got ourselves signed up for the new foster parent classes scheduled for that June!
Those next 6 months were tough. First of all, the world started going crazy when COVID-19 hit. But we also had a lot of spiritual growth to go through ourselves. I kept saying ‘when we become foster parents’ and Tristan was still in the ‘if we become foster parents.’ We both were trying our best to respect each other’s desires and fears and to trust God’s plan for our life. But I was starting to feel like this was never going to happen for us. I was without a doubt God had called ME to foster care, but somehow, I didn’t think he had called my husband to it as well. My faith and trust were lacking until I received an email from a mentor of mine from high school. While praying for me, she had a prayer she felt God had placed on her heart. She prayed God would guide me in taking a risk this year. She didn’t know what it meant, but she passed it along anyway. I stopped what I was doing and I started crying and shaking. I didn’t know how, but I knew somehow God would help us to take this risk and we’d be foster parents.
I can’t pinpoint the moment it happened, but somewhere along the lines, Tristan stopped saying ‘if’ and started saying ‘when’ with me. We started our pre-licensing classes on Zoom and met some really great people who became even better friends of ours. We did mountains of paperwork and told the family consultant writing our home study the nitty-gritty details of our lives. We hit delay after delay thanks to COVID, but somehow, we got it all done. We waited to hear from the state until the week before Thanksgiving we were finally licensed foster parents.
In the next month and a half, we would receive four calls about potential placements. The first we said yes to, but they ended up finding a family member who could take them in. Then we got a call about a sibling set of three, but even if we were willing, we didn’t have enough bedroom space for three more children. The next call was about a little boy, but due to safety concerns for our daughters, we knew we were not the right fit for him.
Then we got a call about two brothers, ages 3 and 4, who needed a home. I had missed the call, called back, and didn’t get an answer, and then an hour later we finally connected, but at that point, DCS had already found another home for them. We were sad but found comfort in the fact God would send us our kids whenever they needed us. We celebrated Christmas and went on a short trip for a few days the first week of January. We had been home for just 2 days when we got another call.
‘Those brothers? They are being moved. Again. Can you take them?’ Absolutely.
That was a Friday, we still didn’t know if they were coming for sure or not. On Tuesday, their case manager called us, ‘Can I drop them off some time tomorrow?’ Oh crap, I guess this is actually happening. ‘Okay, yes.’ They arrived on a Wednesday a little after noon and our lives are forever changed. Tristan and I learned we are their third foster home since the fall. We decided whether they are reunified with their biological family or remain here forever, we will be their last foster home. So many people have failed these beautiful boys in one way or another. I’m saddened and angry for them, but mostly I’m just doing my best to love them.
Our lives are pretty chaotic right now. We have four kids 4 and under. It’s loud and messy and full of lots of tears, but mostly laughter. Maxine has already started introducing them as her brothers and they get along great! We’ve had really great days and some really awful ones already. However, we are not alone in this. We may have been the ones called to be foster parents, but our community has heard a call of their own. So many of our friends, family, church family, and strangers even have stepped up to help us. We’ve had meals brought to our home, clothing dropped off, toys purchased, and countless prayers lifted up on our behalf.
Tristan and I aren’t special. We’re just two high school sweethearts who decided to obey God. We don’t know how long these boys will be in our lives. We don’t know if they’ll truly be going back to a safe and loving environment if they leave us. We don’t know what the future holds for them or for our family. Heck, we don’t even know why the state let two 25-year-old kids become parents of four overnight. But we do know God has got this. God is good. He has shown us time and time again he is in control, we just need to have faith. We couldn’t do this alone. Without the help of our community or without God, we would certainly fail. He is our strength and our song.
Whether or not these boys stay with us, I hope someday when they are grown, they look back and remember fond times at our house. That they remember the joy of playing outside with their sisters, our family movie nights, dinners around the table, and a family that loved them. I hope most of all, they remember how much they are wanted and loved by their Creator. I may not get to know them forever, but they will forever be in my prayers and in my heart. Now, I’m left with one final what if: what if we never said yes and never got to meet these beautiful children?”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hope Noble from Muncie, Indiana. 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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