Many hear of foster care and immediately think, “nope, I couldn’t do it. It would hurt too much when you have to give them back.” or “I’d get too attached.” And that’s true. But God gave our younger biological daughter Mackenzie a heart for little ones, so at the age of 7, she began to pray that we would FOSTER.
In 2015, after meeting a baby boy in our friend’s NICU with Mackenzie, my heart changed. Justin was his name. He was a healthy baby laying in the NICU with nowhere to go because his family could not take him home. That set the fire in me to foster.
BUT, I knew we could not move forward to foster because my husband, Kris, like so many said he couldn’t. He would get “too attached.” Children in foster care don’t choose the trauma, neglect or other horrific circumstances that bring them into care. Children in foster care need someone who WILL get “too attached”—more than foster parents need protection from it.
A few months passed and a foster advocate spoke at our church, Grace New Hope. She showed a music video with statistics about foster care in Georgia. My husband was serving at another church, but my younger daughter, Mackenzie leaned over after the video and whispered, “If Daddy saw this, I just know he would say yes.” We played the video at home and my teary-eyed husband said, “OK, what do we need to do?”
We began the paperwork & training in December of 2015 with the Loganville foster agency, Uniting Hope for Children. That spring, we were approved. On the day of the Kidzlife picnic, we had to decline our 1st placement call for 2 young children–a newborn girl and a boy just under 2, because we didn’t have a vehicle to hold a family of 6. When I told our friend and foster mentor, she asked, “so, if someone gave you a van, you’d say yes?” “Yes.”
A week later, she called —she had a van for us and needed to know if I meant what I said. I was shocked and told her that I was sure the children were already placed with another family. I will never forget her response, “Terrilyn, there’s no other family.” You see the next step for them was to separate the brother & sister. I ran to my husband and asked if we should pray about taking in these 2 babies. Without hesitation, he replied, “No. The Lord has removed the only obstacle we had.” And within 2 days, we picked up the minivan donated to us by complete strangers. This van became our Ebenezer. “If God can provide us with a VAN, surely He is with us on this journey in every detail– from our amazing care team who brought meals FAITHFULLY for over 3 YEARS!!!!, a Grace friend who always seemed to know when we were desperate for more diapers, to the Edwards’ whose pool was always open to us, and grandparents and extended family who lovingly opened their hearts to love Baylee & Kate as our children, to a dear foster friend here who asked about EVERY court date, every family visit and was my literal shoulder to cry on MANY times. Our church has been instrumental in the support and care we have received to sustain us through the sorrows & the joys of foster care all the while loving on Baylee & Kate!
From the beginning, we knew the children were to be reunified with their mother if she were to complete her case plan.
Over the next 13 months, we loved Baylee & Kate as our own knowing we did not know the outcome and had no control over it. We had been asked before if we would be willing to adopt these precious babies and just when we were expecting our case to move to adoption, we learned that a family member was stepping in to foster and adopt. Over the next 6 months, our little ones came to know the biological family and transitioned to live permanently with them on December 7, 2017. We were heartbroken, but still trusted Psalm 119: 68 —“God is good and He does good,” and Isaiah 55: 8-9 — “His thoughts are not my thoughts, Nor are my ways His ways” … in short, His plan is best. Though we had contact with the family, we had no contact with Baylee & Kate directly. We prayed and prayed for their safety, that they would know the Lord and know His love. We prayed that He will be done. And, I cried A LOT.
Kate’s 2nd birthday was February 6, 2018, and I had already prepared myself for a miserable day. Four days earlier, Marley, our oldest, told me a dream she had had the night before where Kate came running to her from the babies’ bedroom as my husband proclaimed, “it didn’t work out with the aunt.” As I listened, I prayed silently, “Lord, let it be prophetic.” In reality, at 9:15 am on Kate’s birthday, 8 weeks and 5 days after our final goodbye with the babies, our foster agency called. Our case manager’s voice was upbeat as she asked if I had a minute to talk about Baylee & Kate. Her next words were: “things didn’t work out with the aunt and they’re coming home to you today.” I don’t know what else was exchanged on that phone call but I broke into SOBS! I was in disbelief. AND I PHYSICALLY SHOOK ALL DAY. The only words echoing in my head were from Ephesians 3: 20: “Now unto Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we could ask or imagine.”
That same day, on Kate’s 2nd birthday, we picked up Baylee & Kate from a Cracker Barrel and drove them home. It was glorious. Their homecoming is the largest work of God we have seen in our family’s life and we are so grateful.
On February 8th of this year, exactly one year and 2 days later, we officially adopted Baylee & Kate. And their biological family came to the courthouse to support us.
Foster care IS NOT easy but it IS worth it–by the prayers of a child, the love of our family, a wonderful agency, the support of this giving church, and a God who is Faithful.
For our family, it exposed selfishness but yielded sacrificial love.
It brought devastation but was the catalyst for one of our daughter’s salvation.
It brought utter heartache but also infinite joy.
Our foster story ended with adoption but not all do. The purpose of foster care is to stand in the gap, to provide a safe place of love and nurture for hurting children while their families try to heal and until a permanent home can be achieved.
It’s been a roller coaster in the dark, to say the LEAST, but it has been an amazing journey that has not only grown our family but has grown our faith in ways I could have never imagined.