Thursday, September 12, 2013

How We Got Here

As of last week, we completed and submitted our licensing packet to provide foster care.  Now we just wait on all of our paperwork to get processed and we will eventually have one more home inspection.  One question we've been asked is how we decided to do foster care so this LONG post will explain that.  I'll go back to the very beginning...
Back in 2004, during mine & Bryan's first year of marriage, he attended his Officer Basic Course (OBC) at Fort Sill, OK.  One of the random memories I have of that time is walking through the tiny mall in Lawton.  In one of the vacant stores they had set up a gallery of photos of foster children.  I recall walking through that room and reading about so many (if not all) of the children.  My heart broke for them and I wished somehow I could just save them all.  Obviously that wasn't going to happen since I was barely a wife and not yet ready to be a mother.    
A few years and one child later, we were stationed at Fort Campbell, KY.  From 2009 to 2011 we lived there and through church and my MOPS group, I had the priviledge of meeting quite a few moms who had adopted (both domestically and internationally) or were in the process of adopting.  These families inspired me to say the least and this led me to think a lot more about orphan care.  I hoped that someday we might be able to adopt after we were done having biological children.
In 2011 we moved to Athens and I got to know the mom of one of Marlie's friends.  Their family had recently started providing foster care.  Over the time that we were there, she cared for a few different newborn babies.  We were able to watch one baby girl grow and thrive in their family.  She was such a precious baby and left a lasting impression on me.
Obviously God was already working on my heart and that continued when our women's Bible study group at church took on James.  This study rocked my world in a great way.  I love that James was such a straight shooter and challenges us to be doers of the word and not just sayers.  I challenged myself to put this into practice and began working with the local women & children's shelter to collect items that they needed.  Individually each of these things seems insignificant, but looking back I can see  how everything was coming together.
In January we moved here to Kansas and since our stay here could be short, I had figured it still wasn't a good time to pursue foster care.  Obviously God wanted to let me know that he has other plans.  I met a lady at church who turned out to live just a few houses down from us.  As soon as I met her, she told me that she had adopted 2 of her daughters through the foster care system.  She soon introduced me to a few other ladies at church who had also been foster and adoptive mothers!
This got my mind and heart stirring again, but there was more to come!  I had gotten in touch with a photographer about taking Emma's one year pictures.  She is also an Army wife, but we had a mutual friend in one of my sorority sisters from college (who is now also an Army wife!).  This photographer had adopted her daughter and had a heart for working with foster and adoptive families.  She did photos for another local family who provides foster care and shared a beautiful post about them on her blog.  I asked her if she could put me in touch with this family so that I could speak to them about their experience and ask questions.  I had the privilege of meeting this sweet Army wife/foster mom, her 2 biological children and 2 foster children.  Even though it was a brief get together, she provided me with so much good information and encouragement.  A few days after that I made the call to the local agency and the next day Bryan & I attended our first MAPP class.
I have gotten to know another foster family who allowed me to babysit a precious newborn foster baby and I learned that some other neighbors we have known for months adopted their son from foster care!  I have been amazed at the local community of foster families I have found here.  They are doing hard work but I believe it is what God is calling so many of us to do.  They have already inspired and encouraged me and continue to answer my many questions!
If you have adopted or provided foster care, shared your story with me, provided me with information or answered questions - thank you!  I don't know what the future holds for our family or any child that may come into it, but you are definitely part of our story.  Even if we only help one child, you will be one of the reasons why.
May God continue to bless you Courtney, Judi, Pam, Amy, Missie, Stephanie, Meredith, Carrie, Renee, Mandy, Lindsay & Stephen.  It is so typical that I would forget someone, so please call me out if I have!  I want to acknowledge you!
The last part of our story so far has to do with our home and my role as a stay at home mom.  The last few times we've moved we were a little worried about our housing situation.  Each time I prayed that God would give us a house that we could use to do his work and each time we have been blessed with a good house in a great neighborhood.  There have been times where I wished I had the freedom and ability to go out into the world and serve on a great mission trip.  I've learned though that during this season of my life, my home is my mission field.  I am so thankful and blessed to be able to stay at home and raise our girls.  Stay at home moms are especially needed in foster care because there are so many newborns who aren't able to go into day care on a regular basis.  Not to mention the security children can feel from being with the same person throughout each day.  I feel like God is showing me now that he wants to use our home and me as a stay at home mom to serve these children and their families.
I know that there will be many challenging times ahead and I pray that I can just remember that God has put us on this path.  When I don't know what I'm doing or how to do it, He is all we need and will take care of us.

http://tharderdesign.blogspot.com/2012/03/matthew-2536-37.html

     

5 comments:

  1. Cristin,
    God Bless You on your family journey. I cannot wait to hear all about it when we speak or see each other next.
    Love,
    Kelsy (A RedLeg wife from Way Back When)

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  2. Cristin, this is an amazing story and journey. I love learning about the bloggers I read and how they touch the lives of others. Looking forward to reading more about this.

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  3. As I former 45 year old foster child I wanted to thank you for your willingness to foster children in need of help. I myself was put into the system at the age of 5 due to the death of my parents. Sadly I was never adopted as I found that people were/are hesitant to foster/adopt older kids. It's really too bad because, if I may toot my own horn, I'm awesome ~ as are many older kids wanting homes. :) So, for those considering fostering a child think of a me, a great success story. :)

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  4. Hi Cristin,

    You mention Athens. Are you in Athens, Ga?

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    1. Hi Katherine,
      We don't currently live in Athens, but do consider it home. I grew up just down the road in Greensboro and get back to Athens as often as I can! :)

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