‘We are trying to place a sibling set of 3 children,’ she began. ‘Three??,’ I interrupted. There was no way we could take in 3 children!’ ​

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“‘You know, we do have an extra bedroom’, Jared pondered out loud as we walked in the door from church. It was adoption and foster awareness Sunday and we had left the service with a heavy heart. I peered into the guest room of our tiny apartment and quickly dismissed the notion of taking in a foster child. ‘I don’t want to be a foster mom right now’, I replied. And that was that.

For a moment.

Courtesy of Ashley Gonzales

As the months passed, Jared and I continued to wrestle with the idea of becoming foster parents until we couldn’t ignore the calling anymore. The idea of there being homeless, abused children in our very city weighed heavily on our hearts, and we knew that the Lord wanted us to be a part of the solution. We told God we wanted one child – a baby, of course! As we began our journey through the endless paperwork and hours of training courses, it was easy to dream of the life we would give to the perfectly healthy newborn baby that would end up in our home. In my daydreams, our little love slept through the night, was easy to soothe, and our home stayed in the pristine and perfectly decorated farmhouse condition that it was in. After what felt like an eternity of preparing, we became licensed foster parents on November 16th, 2018.

Courtesy of Ashley Gonzales

As the weeks passed with no placement, we crossed our fingers we would be spending one last Christmas and New Years as a family of two. As a newly married couple, we had spent our free time traveling around the world and fixing up the 1950’s home we had recently purchased earlier in the year. Prior to our foster care journey, we hadn’t planning on trying to have children until late 2019. We were young, in love, and living the dream! It was four days before Christmas, and I was counting down the hours until I was done with my shift as an ER nurse and spending the next week with family.

The call came when I least expected it. As I stepped into the back hallway of the trauma bay and answered the unknown number coming through my phone, I had no idea that our lives were about to change forever. After Jared joined the call, the female on the other end of the line quickly began rattling off the little known details of the children’s lives. ‘We are trying to place a sibling set of three children,’ she began. ‘Three??’, I interrupted. There was no way we could take in three children. How did we even get the call? The rest of the conversation was a blur as I listened to her tell the heartbreaking story of how these three toddlers under the age of five had come into foster care. It was then that we knew. In the brief moments we had to make the decision, I remember Jared’s voice reassuring me, ‘Let’s do it’.

We were only licensed for two, and only prepared for one. I felt the dream of a newborn baby filling up our nursery room slipping away as we agreed to take in a one and two year old for a ‘short while’ while they looked for a family prepared to take in all three. It was 4:30 p.m. By 7:30 p.m., we became the legal guardians for two helpless and adorable little toddlers. I was instantly in love.

Courtesy of Ashley Gonzales

I didn’t feel like a mom for at least a month. The first week was the most exhausting week of my life. Jared and I were pushed to our limits as night after night, our little loves woke up every hour all night long. This isn’t what I dreamt it would be like. My house was a disaster, I felt like a horrible parent, and I cried as I mourned the life we once had. How did we end up here? In the midst of the endless nights and never ending days, the Lord provided more than we could ever imagine. Through the kindness of friends, strangers, and supportive family, we were given everything we could need to take care of our new family. Though the hard times were abundant, I fell deeper in love with my husband as I watched him grow into a father full of kindness and compassion. I could never have done this without him.

Everything changed when news came in that our two littles were going to be placed with another family willing to take in all three. My heart broke as the reality of foster care hit. It was the first time I felt like a mom. The idea of my babies leaving was too much to handle. After prayerful consideration, Jared and I welcomed their older sister into our messy and chaotic home. A decision that seemed so terrifying weeks before, felt easy now. I remember looking at Jared and saying, ‘I’m not ready to lose them’. Our littles were meant to be together. We needed to take them all!

Courtesy of Ashley Gonzales

It has only been a few months, but I am 100% attached to these children of ours. Our home is no longer the cute little farmhouse home we once had, and we’ve packed up our newborn baby clothes in exchange for toddler books and sippy cups. We’ve traded in date nights for play dates at the park, and I’m exhausted as I write this because last night our two year old woke us up with full blown explosive diarrhea. Foster care isn’t pretty. It isn’t the heroic and clean cut adventure I envisioned it would be. It’s full of tantrums and messes and sleepless nights. It’s full of doctors appointments and visits with family, and it’s full of the fear that at any given moment these littles, that feel like my children, could be taken away.

Courtesy of Ashley Gonzales

This is not where I imagined my life at 27 would be, but it’s so much better. And though it is full of such deep unknowns, the Lord has provided an unsurpassable and unimaginable peace. It’s too early to know where our little loves will end up, but they will etched into our hearts forever. What a joy it is, to be a foster mom.”

Courtesy of Ashley Gonzales

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Gonzales of Finding Joy in Rain. You can also follow her on Instagram here.  Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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