When I set out to become a parent I imagined getting pregnant and raising my child. I could see all the happy memories unfold in my head. The first time I saw them, first time walking, talking, riding a bike on their own, going to school, graduating, everything I could imagine flit through my mind, and I knew it would be prefect. Sure, I knew there would be some tough times, but overall I imagined the good outweighing the bad. I’m sure every parent does, and truthfully, the good does outweigh the bad.
When I was growing up, a relative of mine told her daughter and I that she’d love to see us both adopt. “There are so many children out there who need a loving home.” she said. It stuck with me. It’s one of those moments in my life that got me thinking. I’d never thought about adopting until that moment. God pressed on my heart that he wanted me to one day adopt.
As I look back on this, I see how God was using that seed to help me through my tough time as a young married woman. My husband and I tried for five years to get pregnant. We went through testing and procedures and nothing seemed to help. We decided after those five years, (though we didn’t stop trying for a bio child. It took 5 more years, but that’s another story.) that we should look into foster care. We became foster parents. It wasn’t the perfect picture I’d dreamt of, but I had children to care for and love. We felt peace that fostering to adopt was what God’s plan was for us.
We were blessed with nine children throughout our time as foster parents. It was hard. There were more heartaches than happy memories. Though, there were happy ones. What these precious children have been through, is heartbreaking and no human should have to go through, especially a child. I’m thankful to have had the privilege to be there for those little ones in their greatest time of need. I don’t know where they all are, but I trust and pray that God is keeping them under his protection. In my heart they will always be mine; even if they don’t remember me, I will always remember them.
We were able to adopt two of our foster kids and welcome them into our forever home. They filled that gap we had for a child of our own. They fit into our family perfectly. Actually, no one even suspects they are adopted, and are surprised when the topic comes up. I believe God designed it that way, knowing it’s what we all needed. They seamlessly fit into our home. It’s like they’ve always been here.
But, the truth is they haven’t always been in our home. We missed the first six years of our daughter’s life. She was placed in our home 2 weeks before her 6th birthday. Our son was one month from two. I never really thought much about the time I missed. I chose to focus on the time I had. We made and make great memories. I wanted the good to overtake the bad they’ve experienced. To a degree it has worked. My son only remembers being with us. When he talks about his past, it’s rarely anything before he came to us, and for a while we questioned if he even knew he was adopted. It’s not a secret in our family, but it isn’t something we talked about daily. One day, sure enough, he did come with questions. We answered as we always do and he went on with his life. He asks random things now, but he seems perfectly content.
Things weren’t the same for our daughter. She remembered a lot. We did all the things Child Services recommending, therapy, Big Sister, and other programs, but after a while she started having dreams and memories pop up that caused her distress. We worked through them as they came. Some were more difficult and some she’s still working to overcome, but she seems to be confident in who she is and what she wants with her life. She has a plan, and is determined to see it through.
As time goes on, though. I feel the loss of her first 6 years stronger and stronger. I’ve started to question why it had to be this way. Why couldn’t have gotten her sooner, or better yet, given birth to her, and save her all the heartache? Logically, I know if we’d have gotten her at birth or even three or four, we might not have had her brother. If I’d given birth to her, she wouldn’t be the person she is right now. I know God works in ways we don’t understand, but as I sit here thinking that she’s closer to sixteen and on track to graduate high school, at least a year and a half early with determined plans to attend local christian college, I’m sad, discouraged, and a little heartbroken. I want her here longer. I want her to be ten so I can have those six years I missed. I want to pout and whine about how unfair life is, but then I remember that I’ve had nine wonderful years with her, with mile stones, achievements, and wonderful memories. I’ll never get those first years with either of my older kids, but I can use the time I have to make up for the heartache and pain they endured those first years of their lives.
If you’re wondering, as of right now, I don’t feel the loss as strong with my son. Maybe it’s because he was very much a “baby” with his delays or maybe it will come later. Or maybe God is using my experiences with my oldest, and I won’t experience this loss with him.
If you are a foster or adoptive mom let me encourage you. What you do and the love you give matter. You may not have that child in your home permanently, but the time you do have make it count. Take the stress, heartache, and pain and turn it into something they will always remember and can look back on and see that they were loved. Even if they are too young to remember, they will have that pressed into their hearts. One day God may use that to bring them to him.
If you are able to keep them forever, don’t forget where they started. They will still struggle even when you think all is well. Sometimes it will come so far from left field that you are totally blindsided, but remember that even through these trails God is with you. I need to remind myself of that daily at times. Trials come and go, but we have a peace that surpasses all understanding. God will see us through these tough times. He will heal the pain of the loss we feel for the missing years.
References that have helped me: There are plenty more, but these spoke to me as I wrote this blog.