"It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.. "
In June 2020 our first foster placement left our house for her forever home. As a family of four, we decided that we would take a year off from fostering.
2020 was a difficult year, and I felt like we needed some time to bounce back as a family. But as He most often does, God had a different plan.
October 2020 I felt my heart move in strange ways. There was a pulling in my soul telling me to open our house earlier than we had anticipated. I am stubborn and inflexible by nature, so of course I resisted. The pulling and fire got stronger and finally I surrendered in the name of obedience to open our house for a long term foster placement, but only for a 3-5 year old girl. I struggle with control and felt like putting those tight parameters on our opening was the only way I could step out in faith. I didn’t want any babies in our home nor did I want any kids older than my son in our house. So that is where I felt comfortable.
Time went by as we anxiously awaited the phone call.
As I decorated for Christmas I made sure to leave a space and grab an extra stocking for our placement that I was sure we would receive before my favorite holiday. Christmas came and went. January, February, March...months were coming and going with no phone call. What started as a reluctant “gritted teeth” step into obedience to open our home became a wild and unexpected yearning for a child. God knew it would.
Time passed and passed. Everyone who knew our circumstance could not believe we haven’t received a call yet. Our last placement came before we were even fully licensed, so what could possibly be going on?
May 10, 2021 at 9:30am I received a phone call from the NH STATE OF (as my caller ID always identifies DCYF as). My heart dropped. Was this it!? Was she finally coming?! I answered the phone in anticipation. No. This wasn’t for a placement. This phone call was to ask if we would be open to respite for an older girl for one night. I had a wedding that particular night, so I politely declined telling her we weren’t openly available that day. She thanked me and then we got off of the phone. My heart was pulsing. Then I felt disappointed. I thought that maybe she was coming today.
Then at 3:00pm that very same day my phone rang again. I looked at the caller ID…”NH STATE OF”. My heart sank. Then soared. I could feel my adrenaline kick in. What could it possibly be? I answered the phone. It was the same resource worker, but she had another inquiry for me this time.
Resource Worker: “I have a potential placement for you.”
Resource Worker: “Now I know your age range was 3 - 5, and she is a little outside of that, but you were at the top of my mind today because I had spoken to you earlier this morning.”
Resource Worker: “Would you be willing to take in a 2 year old little girl?”
Uhhhhh. I had parameters. I had control. I knew what would work in our family and a two year old wouldn’t work. No. No way.
Me: “Umm I need to call my husband”
What?! No. Don’t call Ben. Just say no.
Me: “I’ll call you right back”
I hung up. Absolutely dumbfounded at the words that came out of my mouth. What was happening?! The answer is NO.
I tried calling Ben at work. He was unreachable. I called and called. I texted my closest friends telling them the situation. For some reason I was incredibly conflicted.
Why?! I’m usually so good at saying no. Just say no!
One of my friends responded to my frantic "WHAT DO I DO?" text with “trust your gut”. “No way” I said. My gut is never the right way to go. My gut is selfish and unloving. I don’t want to trust my gut. I want to trust Jesus.
Ahh pray! Yes! I need to pray!
I needed wisdom, I desperately needed to put my selfish wants aside. An hour passed and I still had not got in touch with Ben. My phone rings. “NH STATE OF”. The resource worker was asking if I had reached my husband and whether or not we had made a decision. It was 4:00 now and they needed to figure this out before work hours were over. I told her I was trying and then I said words that came out of nowhere that I did not consciously choose.
“I am leaning towards yes”
Excuse me?! WHAT IS GOING ON?! Why would I say that?! My mind and heart were in utter chaos.
Finally a few minutes before 5:00pm Ben calls me back. I’m sure he was taken back by how winded and desperately frantic I sounded. I explained the situation as quickly as I could and then Ben, being Ben, said “well, why wouldn’t we take her?”
OH THE AUDACITY!
I rambled off probably 20 reasons why we shouldn’t….couldn’t...take in a 2 year old. Then in his calmest voice he said “remember that speech that we gave a few weeks back at a foster care information night?”.
He continued, “Remember what you said? You wanted to do something that was a pure act of faith, something you couldn’t do in your own power?”
How dare he.
“Yes” I whispered reluctantly through my teeth.
“I don’t think we have a good enough reason to say no” he said.
“True” I responded, barely audible.
Then I heard a beep and I looked at my phone, I had another call coming in...NH STATE OF. “Oh crap, Ben, they’re calling again, WHAT DO I DO?!” Ben told me to three way the call. The resource worker, in the most polite way, asked if we had made a decision yet. Ben said “I think we have, but we haven’t officially said it yet. Amanda?”
Finally I mustered out “I can’t say it Ben.”
“Yes, we’ll take her” Ben bravely stated. The worker thanked us and gave us some more information and told us the little girl would be coming over in an hour.
ONE HOUR. Our house was not ready for a two year old. I rallied all of my friends and sounded the alarm for our Be The Village liaison to help us with food, clothes, a bed rail, diapers, shoes, etc.
I was an absolute anxious mess. Running around like a chicken with my head cut off.
Then she arrived. A DCYF worker pulled into our driveway, got out of the car, opened the back door and took a BABY out of the car seat.
Complete with a pacifier in her mouth. My heart sunk to the floor. I wasn’t thinking of her adorable pigeon toed walk, her curly beautiful chocolate brown hair, or her big huge smile. No. I was thinking of how uncomfortable I was.
The worker brought her into our house and I was holding back a dam of tears behind my eyes. I wanted to scream “WE CAN’T DO THIS!”
The worker left as quickly as she came and I just watched this new little one explore our house. I didn’t notice how sweet and excited my children were to see her. I didn’t notice how much my son’s face lit up when he made her smile. I was stuck in a spiral of selfish thoughts.
That night was pretty awful. Understandably she had a very difficult time falling asleep alone in a new room that she’s never seen with people she’d never met. It took 2 hours for her to finally give in and fall asleep. I collapsed on the couch and sobbed. I felt like a wild horse that had just been broken.
I was right, I can’t do this. Not in my own power. Why in the world would I ever think I could? I needed to lean on the One who could give me the strength. I went to bed with red eyes that night.
The next day was an absolutely delightful gift straight from God. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were able to be outside the entire day. I could tell that she didn’t get to play outside much. She was sweet, well behaved, and snuggly. My heart was growing in affection for her.
That first week was an amazing example of how much more God knows than I do. I believed that this was a terrible idea. I believed that taking her in would be extremely difficult for us. God knew that we were a perfect fit.
I became attached to her quickly after that. We also started a great relationship with her mom from early on. I couldn’t believe how perfect of a placement she was for us. We loved her and we loved her mom who began to attend church on Sundays with us. After church one day her mom told me, “you know, right after the girls were taken I called my mother and we prayed for you. We prayed that our little girl would be placed with a Christian family just like yours”. Oh how God moves.
Our little girl has siblings. One of her siblings, an 8 year old sister, is also in care and unfortunately ended up bouncing around from home to home for a while. Finally she landed in a long term placement home. This placement doesn’t have a "one child only" restriction and are able to take in more foster children. They were willing to take our little girl so that the sisters could live together.
Heartbroken, but also so happy for these girls. I can’t imagine the pain and confusion that they have had to endure in their short lives. Being together is definitely best.
Sad, but so proud. I’m so proud of our family for loving her hard and fierce, not knowing how long she would be with us. That is brave. We are brave.
This experience and this sweet little girl changed me. Softened me. Jesus knew she would.
Although she has moved out of our house, she has a spot in our family forever. We love her. My kids love her. We will always be a "support person" for her whenever she is in need, for life.
Almost half a million children are in foster care right now.
118,000 kids are free and clear, floating in the system, waiting to be adopted.
Every year over 20,500 kids age out of foster care without reunifying with their families or ever being adopted.
For more information about foster care in NH head here.
For more earth shattering United States Foster Care statistics click here.