She looked into it, did some homework on the subject, prayed about it, and felt an undying need to serve kids. I, too, have always held a very special place in my heart for kids, perhaps because I do not have any biological children of my own. But this was different. Fostering? Taking children into our home—comfortable for the two of us—would absolutely impact our freedom, lives, and checkbook. I didn’t know if I could do it. Grudgingly, I went to the meetings and to the training sessions. We became certified foster parents. Now, the wait began.
We gave it to God. Through the meetings and training sessions my heart softened, but only because of Him. I grew in my faith that He would take care of all of the details. In my wildest dreams, I could have never imagined the dire need for loving Christian homes for kids who have been neglected, abused, and pushed aside into a system that does its best to provide, but ultimately fails. We simply let God handle it by telling the fostering agency that we were willing to take any child in need, of any age, gender, or race. I still had my doubts that I could do it. Then came Christal.
When we got the call in July of 2002 telling us that Christal was coming, we became excited, but didn’t know what to expect. The first thing to hit me was the way her name was spelled. It could have just as easily been spelled many other ways. We chalked it up to being a “God” thing. To this day, when I reflect on the arrival of Christal into our home, I have a difficult time maintaining my emotional composure. She was so cute, tiny, and BUSY…. She wouldn’t stop talking as she unpacked everything she owned from a worn out suitcase and plastic garbage bags. All of her worldly possessions, which by our standards should have been discarded months before, were very important to her. She carried her life in a suitcase and garbage bags. Later, I was able to understand that the “busyness” of this five year old was mostly due to her anxiety level as she moved into a new home, again, with strangers.
Christal is the youngest of eight children. Each has been raised in foster care for most of his or her life. One of Christal’s sisters, Rose, was living in a foster home with 5 other kids. We were able to spend time with Rose on weekends. In hindsight, we believe the agency wanted to see how we were doing with Christal before allowing Rose to relocate to our home.
I met Rose for the first time while working at the fair. My wife, Lisa, had picked her up for a weekend visit and brought her out for the day. I walked toward them, and I will never forget my first impression of Rose. She was entirely different from her sister. She had such a laid back demeanor, and I could tell she was sizing me up. I don’t know what she was looking for in me, but I felt like I was on trial. Rose was the oldest of the youngest three siblings of the family and took on the role of a parent. She was very street smart, savvy, and manipulative. All of these traits were necessary for her survival and the survival of her siblings. Rose moved in with us in September of 2002. Rose and Christal shared the master bedroom of our house.
Then came Vincent. When we first learned the girls had a brother, we were told he was living in a lock-down facility for troubled kids in Ukiah. In our opinion, Vincent suffered the most abuse by his biological parents that, to this day, have scarred him. Without going into great detail, he suffered every abuse imaginable. Lisa made arrangements through a county social worker to take the girls up to visit him for a day. Shortly thereafter, Vincent moved back to Sacramento and lived in a group home with six other boys. We were able to have overnight weekend visits with him in our home for about a year. Vincent moved into our home in September 2003. He came with the same type of worldly possessions packed in the same manner as Christal. Vincent also came with prescriptions for about five different medications, which he had to take at specific hours of the day. In all, he was taking eleven pills per day.
Vincent was a huge challenge. There were many times that Lisa and I were close to giving up on him. He was in a special school for behaviorally challenged kids, and it seems, looking back, that the bad days at school far outnumbered the good days. We were always getting a phone call from school to come pick him up. The principal of this state and county-funded school was a Christian woman. Vincent was surrounded by Christian adults. We prayed, ON CAMPUS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, with both the principal and the counselor for God’s guidance regarding Vincent. Lisa was convinced that with His help and guidance, this boy would flourish in a world that hadn’t given him a chance. We took him out of the special school and enrolled him in special classes in public school at the end of the school year. The change in his attitude, demeanor, and behavior was immediate. This was just one example of God’s intervention in Vincent’s life.
After speaking with the county doctor who was responsible for Vincent’s medications, we took him off all of his meds—cold turkey—in December of 2003 and, to this day, Vincent is not taking any medications. This is another of many examples of how His intervention is guiding our lives.
Fast forward to 2006. We began the adoption process for the kids in early 2006. The county, state, and federal agencies’ goal is to place foster kids in adoptive homes; nevertheless, the amount of red tape involved to make adoption become a reality is an unbelievably slow process. We always had to remind ourselves that it would happen in His time regardless of the paperwork setbacks. There were several reasons we felt the call to adopt our kids: All kids need a sense of security, belonging, and permanency. We also grew weary of the county being involved in our kid’s lives. From day one, they were ours. We never considered ourselves “foster parents” that simply provided temporary shelter. Our hearts were crushed on two occasions when the county took two of our kids out of the house for a small period of time because of some minor incidents that occurred. We were never prepared to give up our kids. God again was leading us to go forward with this lesson. The adoption became finalized on August 24, 2006.
When our friends and acquaintances realize we have adopted kids, they always remark on what a great thing it is that we are doing. The accolades are nice. They come and go, and we politely accept them. More importantly, it is God’s way of opening the door for conversation regarding the absolute blessing He has provided to us with the gift of our children. They have changed our lives. They have brought us even closer to Him with our walk. Without God, there would have never been a chance that we would have opened our (His) home. Without Him, we would have given up on Vincent. It is through Him, and only Him, that my wonderful wife encouraged and persuaded my guarded heart to open up to serve our kids. It is only by God’s grace, love, patience, and guidance that we are able to address and conquer the day-to-day issues of our kids that by comparison, are paltry. We have grown in Him and as our kids see His blessings and miracles every day, they too have grown.
There is no conclusion to this story. We will continue to grow in our walk with Christ. He will continue to lead us through prayer, worship, and the support of the many wonderful brothers and sisters at Touchstone. We are so grateful to Him and we give Him the honor, glory, and praise for all of our blessings.