We are a family of seven made up of dad, mom, three biological children and two adopted children. Our family is knit together in a not-so-traditional way as we have birthed some and adopted others, each one uniquely and wonderfully made by our perfect Heavenly Father (Psalm 139:13,14).
Several years ago our family felt led by the Lord to make a big, bold, leap of faith and jump into the unknown world of foster care with the intent to adopt. Let me take you back a little bit ...
We were young parents to three amazingly, wonderful kids: Ethen, Emma and Elliott. We were blessed beyond belief to have been gifted these three little people and took the responsibility to parent them as the Lord would have us ... Biblically and seriously. After our last, Elliott, was born, and after three physically wearing pregnancies, we decided that we would not be adding more biological kids to our family. My dream to adopt, and my husband Daniel's heart for it, was growing every day.
At this point, we did not feel the "need" for more kids, but we knew we had a lot of love to give. We felt this was something the Lord was putting on our hearts and we did not want to set any limits on what we could handle. If the Lord was calling us to this life, we knew He would provide for us.
Our original plan was international adoption and Ethiopia was to be the country. As we started to do our research, we attended a seminar where lots of agencies (foster, international, and private) shared information, giving us a greater understanding of the available options. One of the organizations that spoke worked with local foster care. We had never thought foster care was for us. We never thought we were cut out for those kinds of “what if's” and the emotional roller coaster that could come along with it. But before we left that seminar, we took their information along with the rest.
Daniel began interviewing international adoption agencies and, right before we submitted our application to start the process, we took a pause to really think and pray about the journey we were about to take. During this time, the Lord brought families in to our lives that had adopted through the foster care system or were strictly foster care parents with no intention of adopting. We felt it was not just coincidental and started to incorporate foster-to-adopt into our prayers. That is when things took a turn.
We knew the Lord was calling us to adopt, we just did not have the particulars. The more we prayed about foster-to-adopt, the more we started to feel a shift in our thinking. Maybe, just maybe, this was the direction the Lord would have us go. It was such a change from the plans we had.
Have you ever wondered why the Lord puts something on our hearts, but does not give us all the details? In our case, He probably knew we would have questions (and then more questions and then more questions). Our job was to simply respond and trust in Him. He gave us what we needed in the moment and time when we needed it. He would remind us throughout the entire process we were participating in His ministry and His sovereign plan was perfect ... we were the fallible ones.
We stepped into the rushing river of foster care by praying as a family. By then we had selected the Private Placement Agency that spoke at the seminar, begun taking their certification classes, been fingerprinted, received physicals, prayed, completed the home-study process, had interviews, completed the book-long application and done a lot more praying! There was also the huge checklist of things to take care of within our home to pass the inspection.
After completing the process, we were so excited to receive a call confirming that we had officially become a foster family and were certified and ready to bring in kids. We were also very thankful to have a community of family and friends to provide many of the things we needed to be fully prepared (bunk beds, bedding, crib, mattresses, etc.). Two weeks later, we were placed with our first two little sisters.
I cannot begin to express what it is like to bring broken, helpless, confused and emotional kids into your home. Thinking of what they had been through to be removed from their home and brought into ours made us want to love them the best we could and trust the Lord to fill in the gaps. We were blessed to have our family members show up at our house the night they arrived with bags and bags of clothing and shoes. The older sister couldn't believe this was all for her, as the girls came to our house with absolutely nothing. After being with our family for a month and a half, the sisters were reunited with their extended family. Our time with the girls gave us real world, practical look at what life as a foster family would be like. We were all in!
The very same day we met a new little girl. (Yes, this can be the speed at which this world moves.) She was already in a foster home, but we wanted to see if she would be a good fit with our family. We met her, instantly fell in love and brought her home for a play date. This play date turned into a sleepover, which turned into the gift of her becoming a forever member of our family.
Again, we were called again and asked if we would be willing to bring a brand new baby into our home. This baby was the half-sister of our adopted daughter. We were far from prepared to bring another child into our home, but I think a “yes” came out of my mouth before they even finished asking. Once again, we were beyond thankful to have friends offer to get us everything we needed: crib, stroller, car seat, clothing, diapers, baby wraps, blankets, beanies. You name it, it came. I was overwhelmed at the support of our community, which walked through this with us and never left us to feel alone. Once again, we had the privilege of adopting another precious little one.
The Lord has not taken away our heart to care for orphans and we recognize there is still room at the table. We might not be in a place where we are ready for more foster kids in our home, but we know the Lord is continuing to lead us in new, exciting ways. This is where our vision of Child Hope Services began.
We recognize that we have an amazing community of family and friends that made our adoption journey part of their own as they walked with us every step of the way. They provided things we needed as we were getting certified -- real, tangible items that we could not afford -- and made it possible for us to bring children of different ages into our home. We could not have done it without their support. Child Hope Services had been birthed from this place. Our hope is that every family choosing to care for orphans would feel loved and supported by a community rallying around them.
Child Hope Services offers a chance for everyone to find their place in taking care of the orphan. While not everyone's calling is to bring kids in to their home, Child Hope Services provides a way for anyone to support an adoptive family by helping them with the up-front costs. Maybe you have kids who have outgrown items and you realize it would be a gift to a family bringing in kids to pass on your crib, car seat and clothing. Maybe you feel called to make a financial contribution. There are many ways to help and many roles in orphan care. Maybe you are feeling like you want to become a foster or adoptive family, but you don't know where to start. We can point you in the right direction.
In starting this organization, we hope that more families will be able to realize their own role in caring for the orphan and take action. Whether you are looking to start the process of bringing an orphaned child into your home or looking to support the families that are, Child Hope Services can serve as a way for you to realize your role.