Sharing how God has led and called us to open our hearts and home to foster care.
This blog post is over a year in the making.
I’m honestly not even sure where to begin.
So I’ll try to start from the beginning.
If you are new here you may know that Roger and I have talked about adopting since before we were married and that last July we made an official announcement that we are hoping to adopt.
But what you may not know is that before we made this announcement we prayed about and considered all of the different ways we could grow our family.
We knew God was calling us to live out our beliefs and desire to help children in need of a loving home.
And we believed (and still do) that adoption was and is what God has called us to do (more on this later).
There are a plethora of ways to do this, some of the most common being international adoption, domestic adoption through an agency, domestic adoption with consultants, or private domestic adoption (which is what we have been pursing this last year).
Before we chose the path of private domestic adoption I had a friend from high school reach out to me who is a social worker and she offered to answer any questions we may have about adoption or foster care.
So I took her out for coffee and we spent hours talking and she kindly and encouragingly shared about foster care as I took down page after page of notes.
When I got home Roger and I talked and prayed about it and we both came to the conclusion that we should move forward with private domestic adoption, instead of foster care (at the time).
So we continued to pray and research about adoption.
We read, listened to podcasts, and did as much research as we could on the subject.
But one of my favorite adoption podcasts that I listen to, The Real Mom Podcast, included a lot of information about foster care.
Even though we chose to pursue private domestic adoption I continued to listen to and learn more about foster care through her podcast and other adoption resources (as the subjects are often intertwined).
Over the next 5-6 months, we continued to prepare our home for private adoption, but every once in a while we would talk about foster care.
Sometime around the end of last year and the beginning of this year Roger started to talk more seriously about foster care and I admitted that I had been thinking about it more to.
We came to the realization that God may be leading us to open our home to foster care someday, we didn’t know when, but we knew that we were both open to it.
We even started talking about beginning the classes once our home study expired (which at the time we thought was July, but recently found out isn’t until November).
A month or two after this I was walking with a friend who shared her fear with me that we were going to become so desperate for a baby that we would do foster care.
I almost stopped dead in my tracks.
As I am not a confrontational person and I was caught completely off guard I kept the peace and let her vent about her fears for our family.
I knew that soon enough she would find out and have to decide if she would still want to be a part of our lives.
I was still in a bit of shock when a couple hours later I recounted these painful comments to Roger.
It made me wonder… Do people assume that foster care is filled with people desperate for children? Do people think we chose adoption and are now choosing foster care out of desperation? Have we not made it clear after over a year of trying to adopt that we are choosing a different path than the norm to grow our family because we want to help children and families?
We haven’t even had our first placement yet and we know that foster care isn’t for the faint of heart.
But what this experience did teach me is that once word spreads to our friends, family, and online community that we are opening our homes to foster care there will be those who think that we are choosing foster care out of desperation or as a last resort.
That is not true.
We are opening our hearts and home to foster care because we believe God has called us to live out our faith and be the hands of Christ.
This was not an act of desperation or a last-ditch effort to grow our family, but a year of earnestly praying that God would lead us to how we should grow our family.
Some may wonder, well if God was calling you to foster care why didn’t you do it in the first place or do you think God changed his mind?
My answer to the latter is no.
I believe He knew this is where He was leading us all along, but I also believe He knew we weren’t ready before.
He has used this last year to prepare our hearts and our marriage for His work and for the journey that lay in front of us.
One of the reasons we wanted to start our family through adoption is because we wanted to help, but over the last year, we have learned first hand that there are hundreds of families readily open and available for infant adoption, but that the real need is more likely in foster care.
And that brings me to another really important reason why we originally said no to opening our home up to foster care.
Foster care is for reunification, not for adoption.
I know some states have different foster care routes, such as foster to adopt, but Tennessee is not one of those states.
And even still, foster care is not an adoption agency, foster care is meant for the temporary care of children while families work to reunify.
This is hard to admit, but honestly, that was not something we were ready for when we started our adoption journey.
At the beginning of this year when we began to seriously start discussing foster care, we knew that we needed to make sure our hearts and minds were ready to actively cheer on biological families as they worked to be reunited with their children.
We also knew that this wasn’t going to be an easy journey.
We know we are going to get attached to every child that enters our home.
But that’s a good thing!
God has called us to love, a selfless love as He loves.
This means loving every child that comes into our home as He loves them.
We are called to love deeply, fully, and unconditionally.
During the year we pursued private domestic adoption God reinforced so many of our beliefs while teaching us so many new things.
One of which is that no child will ever belong to us, whether adopted or biological.
We can’t claim ownership over another human being.
Every child (and adult) is first and foremost a child of God.
Whether we care for a child from birth to adulthood or just for a few months they belong to God.
And we will be grateful for the privilege to parent any and all of the children who come into our home as we know they are the precious children of God.
In regards to private domestic adoption, we are still pursuing this outside of foster care as our home study doesn’t expire until sometime in November (and depending on where/how God leads us, we may renew it).
We are going into foster care with the mindset that foster care is for reunification, not adoption, therefore we are still keeping our home open to the possibility of adopting privately outside of foster care.
God has called us to foster care, but we are open to wherever he leads us.
We don’t see it as foster care vs adoption vs biological children.
Even if we were to adopt right now or even get pregnant, we would still be pursuing foster care.
Our last adoption connection, which lasted two months, ended right after the 4th of July, months after we had started the foster care process.
And that’s because we know foster care is for reunification and we are preparing for the fluidity that our family will become.
Does this mean we wouldn’t be open to adopting any children in our home from foster care?
No, but we aren’t entering foster care with the hope that we will adopt, we know that it happens, but we aren’t going to hope or assume, we are simply going to let God lead us and work through us.
We know that in choosing foster care, the door on our hope to adopt may be closing slightly as fewer people may refer us to expectant mothers considering adoption for their unborn child.
Hopefully, this door will not close permanently, as we do still hope to adopt, but we know efforts are going to be refocused into loving and raising foster children as their biological families seek to reunify with them.
And I just want to share how greatly we appreciate your continued prayers and for sharing our hope to adopt with your friends and family
This new journey we are beginning is going to be an uphill battle as we learn, adjust, grow, and change.
We know we have a lot to learn, but we also know we have a lot of love to give.
I’ll be sharing more in the coming weeks about our journey to foster care (I have a post about The Miracle We Almost Missed with more specific details about where we are in our foster care journey next week.), as this blog post has already gone way longer than I had planned and I feel like I barely shared anything of where and how God has led us over the last year.
And I just want to thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your continued love and support.
This path we have chosen is going to be a large adjustment for our immediate (and extended) family and we greatly appreciate the support of our online community as we follow this narrow road into the unknown.
For those interested in reading more of my confessions from the heart click here.
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With love, Giusti
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.
Psalm 119:74 NIV