I’ve always followed every dream I had. Mission trips, college degree, lots of traveling, ministry school, home ownership, multiple career choices. So when I worked towards the goal of becoming a foster parent, my mindset was always “I’m able to give children a temporary safe, loving environment so that’s what I’ll do.” I always thought adoption would present itself once I was married and intentionally wanted to start a family with my husband. (People do ask me if I can have my own kids or if that’s why I adopted. But once again, I never intentionally set out to adopt. I only had it in my heart to foster.)
My girls were my second placement. It became evident that permanency couldn’t be sought with bio family so I was asked if I would consider adopting the girls. I also don’t know if I ever shared this, but these girls had a very slim chance of being adopted together if they weren’t able to stay with me. Crazy right? To think that because Delaney was considered an “older” child, meaning harder to find an adoptive family. She was 9. Or that they’re a certain race makes them harder to place. They’re a sibling group of 3 which also was a factor. And 2 of them had some special needs/behavioral considerations (adjustment disorder and generalized anxiety) that would also narrow their chances of an adoptive family stepping forward.
This is sometimes hard for me to share. Actually this is the first time publically sharing. Because it presents these babies as a burden. And I NEVER want that message to come across. But on paper and in real life, their needs were messy and deep. Especially for a single parent. What most of you do not know, is that I said no. When presented with the option of adopting my girls, I said no.😭 My heart knew something that my mind could not understand. My heart knew they were mine. My mind said “But they’re probably better off in a 2 parent household. They have a lot of needs. I don’t think I can do it.”
I had people in my circle telling me that my answer was okay, because I had done all I could. Doubts, insecurities, even unhealed trauma from my own past completely warped my mind and told me I wasn’t the best option for them. That they deserved better or that I wouldn’t be able to commit to them for a lifetime or that I would fail them in some way- oh those thoughts were causing so much confusion at the most critical time in the girls’ case.
But then as the word “no” painfully uttered out of my mouth, my soul was filled with incredible sadness. I was crying every day, crying every night. Everything about me was just so sad. The girls didn’t know. How could I tell them? How could I fail them like this? They loved me so much and were so attached.
About two weeks later I had this moment of clarity where I finally said to myself, “Your heart says yes. Your mind says no. But what does God say?”
I remember specifically praying “God, I need to know what you want from me for these girls. If it’s a yes, that’s okay. And if it’s a no, that’s okay.” Now, just know that even tho that sounds so nonchalant, it was anything but. It was a HARD MOMENT of complete surrender, taking myself out of the equation and trusting God with an answer that was best for the girls. It required complete stillness on my part. No more trying to make sense of my world in that moment. No more rushing myself in spite of the fact that the case still needed to proceed forward. Just painfully allowing my soul to hush.
And then something so beautiful happened in one of those moments, weeks later (because the answer isn’t always immediate) when I was still forcing myself to be still. I felt a rush of brave obedience and courage and I started seeing glimpses of the girls and I together in the future, as a family. My heart was filling my mind with pictures of our adoption, and my wedding, and future foster children, and my girls were happy and loved and cared for and treasured. By me. By my husband. By our family. By our church. By community. And there was so much peace. And so much purpose. And I knew it was God saying YES.
And my mind settled. The storm subsided. The doubts bowed because peace was finally taking over. I told the agency I was ready to adopt the girls. So many tears, happy tears by the workers who were involved in this case...we were all experiencing our own relief and happiness, knowing these girls would be exactly where they were meant to be.
And adoption day was filled with absolute assurance. It was so beautiful. The girls and I dolled ourselves up to reflect what was on the inside. Joy and beauty. Confidence and assurance. And a promise that we were in this together. Always. Regardless of anything.
I vulnerably share all of that to say, God always has a plan. But more importantly, He always sees the big picture. Sometimes he may only show us glimpses at first, knowing the whole picture may just freak us out because it’s wild and wonderful and messy and chaotic and so AWFULLY BEAUTIFUL that we think we can’t handle His plan for our lives.
Honestly, I’m at a place where I so honor the glimpses. I don’t need to see the full picture of my life. It’s TOO big. I’m still learning to trust. I’m still learning to walk in obedience. I’m still telling my head to hush sometimes. But I will say this, next time when a big, wonderful, scary opportunity presents itself for my life, I’ll consider the joy of my YES first, instead of allowing the safety of no to be my default. Just to be clear, the JOY isn’t that I adopted. It’s not about me at all. The joy is having these 3 girls wreck my world in the best way possible. The privilege of being mom. The honor of raising fierce little women who know heartbreak but also know wholeness. The JOY is in the YES.
Sometimes... sometimes against your better, grown-up knowledge, you just want to run away screaming. It's true. I've been there, done that. I've also learned it is best to work on NOT getting to that breaking point. Life. Is. HARD.
Life is hard whether you are single, married, kids or not. Life is hard if you make great money or if you have very little. We all have our things that make life complicated to navigate. We all have a "suitcase" jam-packed FULL of our past things that make us who we are today and sometimes those things in our "suitcases" can even make life hard. We have to decide if we are going to let that suitcase propel us FORWARD or make us trip and fall up the staircase we're traveling.
Y'all foster parenting and even adoption parenting... okay, PARENTING, in general, is HARD. But today, can I give you a glimpse into the life of a foster/adoptive parent? It's #fostercareawareness month each May. Yep, it's still May so we're good there. Here's one of my FAVORITE quotes that seems to tie up what it is like to be the (temporary/adopted) parent of kids that have gone through great traumas.
To foster and adoptive parents:
and then there's this one too:
Adoptive and foster parents live, breathe, cry and walk out the Gospel in the lives of vulnerable kids while exposing themselves, their marriages, their bio-children and their family/friends to a spiritual warfare unlike ANY other. Pray for them.
Adam and I were at the breaking point a couple of weeks ago. Luckily, we knew it was likely headed our way so we scheduled time away in advance. He worked a THIRD job to get us a small getaway for just the two of us. We drove two and a half hours away and just relaxed. Life gets busy... and then we have eight kids too. Ha! I was reminded of this beautiful image this morning while I was deep in thought about this subject... I love to fly in airplanes. Air travel is my favorite. I can sleep anywhere, anytime. People hate that about me. Short flight, long flight, doesn't matter to me, I love them all. I love to look out the plane window and see out over the BIG WIDE world. It's a view we don't get often. I have always felt like my world opens up to this fast expansive thing that it really is. It expands my viewpoint from just my tiny world in Defiance, Ohio to this big, massive earth. There is much much more to see and do than what is right in front of me every day. Almost always, when getting away (via plane or car), I'm always ready to come home. Having a home base is a VERY very good thing... but it's also good to get away and catch your breath and expand your point-of-view.
Sometimes we need that reset button. We need that airplane view to help us see the bigger picture or to take a step OUT of our current situation. I fully know it's hard to look at anything else when you have a kid in your home that is completely out of control and you're just managing. Managing the calls from the school and the teachers. Filtering through the notes and behaviors is hard. Continuing to show up, on time and with well-behaved kids to visits with bio parents is a toll on emotions, schedule and the kids especially. It's HARD. Making appointments, filling out paperwork, bedtime, bath time, eating can be a source of contention, changes in schedule (yep, school is ending and it can actually be hard for kids that don't do change well), seasons, triggers, and so much more.
I would encourage you to set a time to get away. Do what you can to hit that reset button and take a step away from being all up in the face of your situation or it being all up in YOUR face. Catch your breath. Stabilize your yourself once again. Maybe try to not let it get so bad until the next time you step out. Here are some great ideas, I'm sure there are tons more! If you are one of the billion people that happen to know a family that has fostered or adopted, you can gently guide them to some self-care and maybe even take a kid or two for them to run away for a bit.
Sell something if you have to... your sanity is worth it. Have a garage sale. Find something in the basement to put on eBay. Work that second (or third job) and go. It can be an hour or seven or 56... do what works for your life and family. Be creative. Take advantage of local respite nights at churches if you need to. Swap babysitting with another family. Be intentional.
*WARNING* Inevitably, one of the kids in your home will sabotage your time away. It happens almost every time. You'll get that dreaded call or text from the babysitter or the stuff will hit the fan when you get home. I wish someone would have told me that along the way. It honestly happens to us every single time. GO ANYWAY. You can handle it when you get home. #youcandohardthings You've got this. Have fun. It'll be there when you get back. It's not only OKAY to take care of yourself and get a small break to catch your breath, it's one of the most important things because LIFE. IS. HARD.
What are some of your creative and favorite was to handle life? What self-care tactics are your favorite?
Author, Alyssa Tracy
His Darling, Jesus. Wife to Adam for 18 yrs. Mom of 8. Missionary at the core. Encourager by design.
Usually it’s the person giving the blanket, the reason you’re a recipient of one, or because of the person that hand crafted it. I have been a lover of blankets my entire life. Blankets are something that can calm a person, give comfort and warmth, and just make you feel special. I know I have blankets at home that I treasure for one or all of those reasons. We have some very special people in our lives here at Children’s Lantern that help us with a few different kinds of blankets. This week I want to share about the quilted blankets we have at some of our fundraising events, but soon we'll share more about our weighted blankets too.
At our Benefit Auction last year, we auctioned off three “Harley Blankets” made by (Grandma) Faye Tracy. There was a bidder on the phone who couldn’t attend that morning, but wanted one for herself, so naturally we took her call-in bids. During the bidding war, she was unfortunately outbid by members of Grandma Faye’s family, who were three of her grandsons and determined to take them home. Together, the blankets brought in over $500 to help helpless children. We have three more for this year’s auction and hope that sweet lady gets her chance to take one home!
I entered the foster care system when I was twelve years old. I remained in care for five and a half years until I emancipated when I was eighteen years old. Throughout those five and a half years, I lived in twelve different homes. I was blessed with the opportunity to live with over sixty different people in these homes.
Though this may not appear as an obvious blessing and even though there was much adversity, as I struggled to cultivate genuine relationships and feel loved, God blessed me to come to a better understanding of people and purpose. As I met many different people, I came to understand healthy and unhealthy patterns in families. I also came to recognize the benefits as well as the faults within the foster care system.
Every once in a while I feel like God blesses us with a moment that you can tangibly feel and see just a glimpse of the deep love that He has for someone. A love that knows NO boundaries, a love that in spite of everything you have ever said or done still looks at you and thinks you are the most beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing He has ever created!
A few weeks ago, I had to take my foster daughter in for one of her weekly visits with her birth mom. I will admit there are days I grudgingly go in there. Days that my heart feels like it is going to pound out of my chest from the moment I put the baby in her car seat to leave our home. There are many days that I am at complete peace with taking her in and knowing that NO matter what happens, God is in control.