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Our Foster Care Journey: Part 1

Emily Saunders

Have you ever made a hard decision in your life that only God could have orchestrated? Something that maybe you fought for YEARS or decades and then one day you finally said a hearty and willing YES?

That’s the short story of our decision to become foster parents.

But I know many of you have requested the longer story so here goes:

I grew up playing orphan Annie. I know, weird. But I have always been a tad bit obsessed with adoption. Several of my childhood friends were adopted and I just kind of always had it in my heart that it was something I wanted to do. I didn’t know when or how, but I felt like someday it might be my reality.

My husband, on the other hand, was adamantly against adoption. His youngest sister was adopted internationally as a toddler and there is still pain that resonates from all parties involved decades later.

It wasn’t something we argued about, but it was something we discussed regularly.

How were we to reconcile this? We both prayed. We prayed for clarity and necessary heart change and so many more things.

Very slowly his perspective shifted as he grew closer to Christ. His fears dissipated. Not that he thought it would be easy, but he was up for the challenge if God led us into it. I never once tried to convince him that his perspective was wrong. I knew that this change would come only from God and that intervention on my part could be potentially devastating for our entire family.

One day he shared with me on a date night that he was all in. We were supposed to adopt.

In late 2017 we started exploring options. Our children were 5 and 2 and our hearts felt ready for another child. I had been talking to friends who had adopted from many different situations for years and started making phone calls to agencies.

Here’s the thing. NO ONE needed families. Even our local Family Services office had a 2 year wait list for infant adoption. Honestly, I felt a little perplexed and we kept praying and went back to the drawing board. The whole reason we pursued adoption verses trying for another biological child was that we felt God calling us toward fulfilling the needs of children whose parents couldn’t care for them. But we weren’t finding that need.

One day I muttered….. “Do you think God wants us to foster?”. It was something that we had discussed in the past, but quickly dismissed. Fostering was SO hard, and all of the stories seemed horrendous and how in the world could we ever raise children for an extended period of time and then have to give them back?

I think that we were both afraid to say out loud what we knew we were feeling. We were called to become foster parents. We did not choose to welcome children into our home for our own gain. This journey was and is about HIM.

I started researching again. There are SO many options when it comes to foster care. There is DSS and there are private agencies and there are so many acronyms and it’s all so confusing!

After much prayer and some research, we decided to go with a neighboring county’s DSS (department of social services). That means that we are working directly with the county and are the first line of families consulted when a placement is needed.   It’s a smaller county that offers great support to its families and had a great need for more families too. We also enjoyed that our training would be self-study plus 6 in person meetings with our trainer instead of the normal 3 hour meetings two times per week for months.

It took us about 9 weeks to complete our training that taught us a LOT about childhood trauma with the goal of preparing us for anything. Our trainer told us that her job was to try to talk us out of becoming foster parents and then we would see if we still wanted to become licensed in the end.

During the time of our training we also had to go through extensive background checks, references, finger printing, fire inspections, home studies and more. It’s a LOT of paper work.

Finally, on 12/19/2018 we were certified Foster parents. I was so excited. So terrified. So many things.

You know that saying “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called”? I have had to cling to that repeatedly throughout this process. Just like everyone else, I question my abilities as a mom. My patience wears thin. I don’t have special skills for children who need extra care and therapies. There are so many areas where I fall short.

And then there are the questions about the impact on our family. What if this is too hard on our marriage? On our kids? On our time? What if the children hate being with our family? What ages would work best for our family? How will we decide if a placement is right?

The questions NEVER end. They still don’t.

But here’s the thing. All of those worries and fears happen when I take my eyes off of my mission. God didn’t call me to figure all of this out. He called us to say yes. He called us to be willing. He called us to trust Him with every day, moment and second.

When I take my eyes off of Him for 2 seconds I begin to crumble. When my eyes stay fixed, I am at peace.

What a testament to His power. His grace. His overwhelming grace!

I must remember that we’re all adopted. He has invited us all into His loving family with big open arms. How can I not do the same?

And then on January 6th we received a message…..   To Be Continued.



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