Like many stories, ours does not have a concrete beginning. I think I have wanted to adopt since I was a child. But, this adoption…the one where we add two blessings to our family, began in early 2006. By God’s grace, we had found a buyer for our small bungalow house right before the market crashed. Even better, the house I had always dreamed of buying was empty. Its owners were in a retirement home. My brother was a house-flipper and title agent at the time, so he negotiated with the family for us to buy this new house. In so many ways, it was an answer to prayer because at the time, it was really more than we could afford. The mortgage was fine but the $50,000 in improvements was a bit out of our range. But bit by bit, even that worked itself out.
The reason I say, our adoption story starts here is this. I knew this house was more than we dared to really dream of. It was a lavish gift that the Lord would answer such a specific prayer from a long time ago. One day as I was walking in the field out back, I was thanking God for his goodness…for this place. I paused for a minute and heard a whisper…”It’s not just for you.” I knew that voice. It was quiet but unforgettable. I knew He meant the house, the land…all of it. I kinda squirm when people say…”God told me XYZ…” But, I do believe He spoke to me that day. As the weather warmed that spring, the neighborhood came alive as everyone emerged from their winter dormancy. Our neighbors came out of their houses and that is when we met Sadie.
I have lived in this same neighborhood most of my life. I grew up in the house next door to the one we bought. My parents still live there. And I knew our neighbors. But I didn’t know Sadie…the little girl they watched who would come running over to our swing set every chance she got. She was just 3 when we first met her. As the summer unfolded, the neighbor shared more of her story. Her circumstances were uncertain. Children’s Services might need to step in. She would probably end up in foster care. That was the story. And God pricked my heart.
Ever a planner and a thinker, I pulled my dad aside at that time and started asking questions about guardianship and adoption. (My dad handled adoptions as a family lawyer). He answered my questions. My husband, Mike, and I had many conversations about that little girl. But nothing really came of it. It was just a seed…an idea.
Fast forward a few years, and Sadie was still part of our life in a removed kind of way. She was the little girl who was occasionally next door. But in 2009, things started to unravel a bit. Those involved with this little girl’s family were worn. They were tired, and the news that a baby brother was on the way took her support system by surprise. Everyone knew we were interested, but we had never been asked to help. That all changed in November 2009.
It was Friday afternoon…crisp and chilly outside. A red minivan pulled in my driveway all the way to the top. Out stepped an older woman who introduced herself as Sadie’s grandma. She shared that the new baby had been born and needed a place to stay until things worked out for his mom. Could he come to our house? Tomorrow? Whoa!
So we met Abel. All 6 pounds of him arrived the next day and stayed with us for a week. He was a tiny guy! But he stole our hearts. His smooth tan skin and dark hair made for an adorable combination.
He stayed with us for a week, but I kept in touch with his mom. After he went home, I went to visit at their house. While I was there, his mother said to me. “If anything ever happens to me, will you take them.” They are the words no one wants to utter and no one wants to accept, but of course I said yes…who could say no. It was then that Mike and I realized we should start the classes to become foster parents. And so we began a journey that would change us.
Our foster parenting classes were done in May 2010. Our 5th child was due in August. Summer was mostly uneventful except for Sadie and Abel staying with us for a week while their mom was away. Our son Elliott was born in August, and I was adjusting to having 5 kids ages 8 and under.
At the end of September, we got THE CALL…you know the one that shakes you a bit and you have almost no warning. I was sleeping on the couch at 4:00 in the afternoon trying to recover from perpetual sleep deprivation with an infant. My husband was sleeping before his shift at work. The phone rang. The social worker wanted to know if we could take 2 kids (Sadie and Abel) indefinitely and could we let her know in the next half hour. Even though you know THIS CALL can come. Even though you have prayed over it and planned for it, it is still surprising especially when you are in a sleepy fog. Of course the answer was yes and they would be at our house in a little over an hour.
(Now, I’ll be honest. With a bunch of little kids, homeschooling and a new baby, my house was not spotless in this moment –far from it. So I immediately called my mom and she came over to help me doing a quick clean up of the immediate area. I still had my social worker phobia going on, so I was afraid my clutter/dirt would make a bad first impression. Ha!)
While the cleaning was being finished, a social worker pulled in. I heard my sisters squealing and high pitched chatter outside the door. Weird. I was nervous enough until one of them ran inside and declared that this worker was Dawn who we all knew from years ago. She was my parent’s friend and a leader in the youth group when I was in highschool. It was a gift. I went from nervous to calm immediately. It was as if the Lord had sent a friend to help pave the way through this new adventure.