One day, I received a call to pick up a 5-year-old little girl. She came into my house later that day with a garbage bag containing her clothes.She had a broken arm, sores. She was in over 5 homes in 6 weeks. and ‘She doesn’t talk much.’

“Every since I was a little girl, I wanted to adopt. The thought of kids not being loved caused sleepless nights even as a child. After being married 12 years and giving birth to three children, I started thinking about adoption again. I journaled my prayers and one morning I wrote, ‘God, should I adopt from overseas or should I do foster care in my town?’

That same week, as I was preparing for bed, I received a call from the police station. The lady on the other end of the phone told me my ‘god-children needed a home and had come into care through DCFS. I remember asking, ‘Who are my god-children?’ It turns out they were from a lady who, 7 months prior, had attended our church where my husband was the pastor!!

Thirty minutes later, I had three little faces at my door. They had no clothes other than what was on their back, no toothbrush, no blanket or favorite pillow. I remember looking at their scared little faces: three boys ages 6,8, and 10. The next day, two of the three were able to go live with a bio father, but I had the 6-year-old for over a year. Oh, how I loved him. I knew he had a dad who had just been released from prison and he loved his son. I helped him get his son back.

I know that might seem strange for some, but the best gift you can give a child is a healthy bio parent who loves them and wants them. If anyone deserved a second chance, it was this father, who was holding a job down and willing to drive 10 hours for his visits. The bio-dad lived in another state, which makes it very hard for a bio parent to get them back. State-to-state foster care may as well be an out-of-country adoption. It’s just a very long, hard process.

My time with my darling boy was coming to an end, and I knew it. One day, I received a call to pick up a 5-year-old little girl. She came into my house later that day with a garbage bag containing her clothes. I had to return it to the porch and leave it there. She had pinworms, head lice, and body lice. She’d come from a filthy foster home where she claimed she’d been forced to sleep on the floor. In reality, she had visited over five residences in less than six weeks. I told her she was really attractive and that she must be a lovely young lady. ‘No, I cuss,’ she said. I made an effort not to chuckle.

Within 30 minutes, I was chasing her down the street and carrying her back home while she screamed. Neighbors came out of their houses to see what’s going on… I just waved. She was upset about me trying to treat her hair. It isn’t something you want to do when you first meet a child but I knew the week would be more challenging if I let it take over the house. She was unable to pull her thoughts and words together most of the time. I only had her a few days before her sixth birthday and school started.

One thing I have found to be true is a lunch box is one of the best gifts for kids in foster care. We take for granted our kids can pack fun fruit snacks and heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly. She got a rainbow dash lunch box and oh, how she was proud of that. Two weeks after that, I received a call to take her 2-year-old sister. They said she didn’t talk much. She had been living with a relative. She had a broken arm and big sores on her skin. She came to me during the day while her sister was at school.

She seemed so scared but after a while, she looked up at my wall of pictures and said, ‘Addy.’ That was her sister she recognized. I will never forget that moment. It has made me passionate about keeping sibling groups together. It wasn’t long before I was getting calls from the school asking me what was going on. She was in first grade and couldn’t trace the letter ‘L.’ She would mess in her pants and wouldn’t change them. The school worked with me and we formed a plan. Her first-grade teacher partnered with me and by the end of the year, she could read.

She was called the ‘miracle child’ at that school. Teachers and school social workers couldn’t believe how far she came in a year. A lot of kids who come into care are 5 or more years emotionally behind their actual age. The following year, the birth mom signed her rights over to us for both girls. The dad had a prison sentence for 13 years and fought to keep his rights as their father. I was frustrated it was dragged out for over 3 years. I am for the birth family but you can’t parent from behind bars.

The kids deserve better. We stay in touch with the bio mom. She has been in and out of rehab. She truly loves her children and we all love her. She comes for visits during seasons of life where she is doing well. I think it’s best for kids, when possible, to stay in touch with birth parents. I know some may disagree. I talk to a lot of adults who have had messed up childhoods and knowing their bio family wanted them goes a long way. I know that isn’t always the case, but it is for my girls.

There are a lot of rewarding moments that make it all worth it, like the first Christmas when she got a princess dress or the first time we went apple picking. Another favorite was their first birthday parties when the neighbors let us borrow their horses. I remember being sick one night and my little Addy came and read me her favorite book, sang a song, and prayed over me. Our whole family has loved vacationing in the Smokey Mountains, going on nature walks, and last year, we got to take the whole family on a cruise.

It was so much joy to observe their reactions when they first saw the ocean and when they were able to eat at the ship’s buffet at midnight. Having five daughters is a lot of fun, with a lot of hair and makeup and a lot of emotions! We received word from our adoption attorney a few weeks ago that they had been cleared for adoption. The younger one inquired as to whether we could complete the adoption on her birthday, which was the following week. Both kids were adopted last week on her seventh birthday, 5 years after she came to me with a broken arm, thanks to the courts.

We are now a family of nine with two of my older ones having just graduated and moved out. By the time you are reading this, it could be more or less. My first goal is for kids to return home. It doesn’t matter how hard a kid’s life is, they almost always want to be with their bio parents. I always remember their parents were once kids who were hurting too and most of the time, no one stepped in to help,

When returning home is no longer an option, we adopt. ‘I could never do what you do, I’d get too attached,’ I often hear. ‘That’s exactly what the kids require,’ I respond. You’re doing it wrong if you don’t get attached.’ Children are deserving of affection. It’s better for me to suffer than for them to continue to suffer.”

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