For years we wanted to adopt a child. After much research, prayer, and circumstances, we decided to go through the foster care system to foster-to-adopt. A month ago, God brought us a beautiful young girl. While we’re ecstatic about this answered prayer, I wanted to share honestly about what we’ve been learning.
First, I realized how I need(ed) to grieve over the life I once knew. I’m so thankful the Lord gave us two solid weeks together as a family of four before our foster daughter arrived. God knew we needed this time together more than we even knew for ourselves. She moved in three days after we came back from our vacation. (Whirlwind!)
Second, I quickly learned was how selfish we were. We wanted a girl, a daughter to call our own; a girl who could fulfill all our hopes and dreams. That was quickly thrown out the window the day she arrived. We knew instantly that this wasn’t for us or for our comfort, but for her and providing an environment where one day she will have her own hopes and dreams.
Third, I realized I had fear about sharing the news with everyone. (This post is a big deal since we haven’t made it “Facebook official”.) How odd, Sanli. Aren’t you excited? Isn’t this what you wanted everyone to pray for you about? Yes. All of the above! But I feel conflicted when I hear people say, “She’s so lucky” or “She’s so blessed to be with you”.
I don’t feel like our foster daughter is lucky. She was ripped apart from the family she was born into which is traumatizing. Being placed into a home where people don’t speak her language and don’t look like her creates stress. When she finally calls these people her family, she is again shipped off to live with another family in a different city, a different school; to live with a different set of rules and traditions. This isn’t the life she asked for. This isn’t “lucky”. There is so much sadness, grief, and instability. When she’s labeled “lucky”, it makes me sad because it doesn’t provide her with the empathy she needs or acknowledge her history.
And, “blessed”? Well, we all are blessed, aren’t we? But it makes me squirm because I think there’s so much pressure attached to it. The first few weeks were overwhelming. We are not a perfect family. We are as imperfect as can be. (Goodness, ya’ll have met me, right?!) So when I hear people say, “She’s so blessed”, I feel like saying back, “Um, nope. She’s not.” There have been many days where I cry out to God to ask how I can even help her or provide for her. I feel like I’m getting it wrong. I feel like I’ve failed my sons and neglected them during this change. I feel like I’m supposed to be the solution and fix all for her when I know that’s not my true purpose. Instead, I’m supposed to just provide a safe home where she can thrive on her own pace. (Yes, easier said than done, friends!)
Yet with all of these things, there has been immense joy even in the uncertainty. We’ve already seen a lot of progress. Our foster daughter is opening up and adjusting well given her circumstances. For me personally, I see many wins I don’t think I would have experienced any other way. For years, God was teaching me a lot about anger, patience, and empathy. And though I’ve always wanted to adopt a child, I was fearful I couldn’t handle it because of my imperfections and never felt “ready”. But lately, I celebrate the smallest battles! It’s amazing to know that though I don’t see progress at times, God’s timing is always the best. Sometimes we have to take the step of faith and look back just to see how much we have grown.
Words cannot express how grateful we are with the support we’ve received. As we are entering uncharted territory, the flood of love and encouragement from family, friends, and our community gives us the boldness to keep moving forward. Friends’ sheer excitement, their texts and calls to check in, and delivering meals has filled our hearts and brought so much comfort and reassurance to us. It really does take a village. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that we are not alone.
We can’t solve all the problems in the world, but we can be a safe haven for one child. I hope that being honest about our journey would inspire you to consider being an adoptive or foster family or a support family/friend. Just remember- you don’t have to be perfect. Trust me.
Check out Foster the Bay for ideas on how to can become a foster family or support foster families.