I have always had a heart for children, and as I grew out of childhood, I continued to feel more comfortable around children than adults. I was generally shy and introverted, loved animals and reading about animals. I dreamed of growing up, getting married, having children and raising horses and puppies on a beautiful farm with white board fencing.
I did grow up, get married, and have a son, and I do live on a farm. But instead of raising horses and puppies, my focus has changed to helping raise other people’s children. Life happened :)
As a teenager, I became a camp counselor at the Girls in Action (GA) summer camps in Tennessee. I absolutely loved those two summers. It was hard work and I learned a lot about dealing with young girls. The summer I turned 21, I took the job as a counselor at a dude ranch in Texas. Other than the intense heat and a bit of homesickness, it was heaven. I got to ride everyday and teach kids how to have some horse sense. God was leading me, through my love of horses, to help children yet again.
I helped or led several Vacation Bible Schools as a teen and young adult. I volunteered in the church nursery, and when I had my own child, I even ran the local MOPS group for a year. Through these years, I worked full time (photo editing, Radio Shack management, property management, accounting, and more) and dreamed of the day we were financially stable enough for me to stay home with my son.
After working for the family business a while, I won a scholarship for an online university and earned my MBA in marketing (read about that here). I continued to work, some from home, while earning my degree in one year and watching our then 3 year old boy after his half-day of preschool was over. That was a rough time for the entire family…and to add to the stress we continued to try for another baby. When it became apparent that it wasn’t going to happen easily, we started researching options and going to doctors. The marriage was suffering for several reasons, and this didn’t improve matters. After trying Clomid (hormone supplement) for awhile, I gave up. I was depressed and tried to convince myself I didn’t care and didn’t really want more kids. That didn’t work for long.
Our marriage came to a crisis point in 2009 and once we determined to make it work (after much prodding from the Holy Spirit), part of the solution was for me to quit working at the family business. The fact that DH was going to be supportive of me not working for a while started to lift the cloud, and from then on things slowly started improving.
With my son now in full day preschool and the whole year already paid for, I had time on my hands. After giving the house a thorough cleaning and generally nesting, I started thinking about what I really wanted out of life. I looked into jobs at riding stables and camps nearby, but nothing stood out to me and opportunities were hard to come by (think - recession). I decided I really do want more children, but maybe God had something other than more biological children in mind for us. So I began looking at nearby foster care agencies, knowing we could never afford to do a private adoption and that my husband was not in a place where he was ready for that step. (I'm not positive I am either, but I think it will happen for both of us when the time is right.) I found out that foster parenting classes were beginning in early January, and told him that I thought this is where God was leading, and to my surprise, he agreed to go through the process! The more classes we took, the more I wanted to help out these poor kids. We went ahead and did concurrent planning, in case we are led towards adoption, but were listed as foster parents, not foster-to-adopt.
During that same time, I began doctor’s visits again to figure out why I couldn’t conceive. An ultrasound confirmed I have PCOS, and another ultrasound showed possible cancer in my thyroid. I had surgery (February 2010) to remove over half of my thyroid; it was biopsied and NOT cancer, thank God. I then got on a different pill to shrink the ovarian cysts, which gave me severe stomach cramps, so that was not an option for me. Birth control was the only other option to control the PCOS symptoms. We completed foster parenting classes, physicals and the mountain of paperwork that goes with it all, and passed the home visit. I was very excited, as was our son. I think my husband was still leery, but trusted that I knew what I was getting us into.
About 3 months after we were officially approved, we got our first placement – a 2 yr old boy and 7 yr old girl. It was a challenge, but so rewarding as well. They were with us over six months. (When they left, I started thinking more seriously about homeschooling.) Three months to the day after they left, we got a second sibling group. These sweethearts were challenging in a different way, but worth it. At this time, they have been gone just a few weeks, and I’m jumping at every phone call, wondering if this is the one.
The journey is ongoing. I’m still wrestling with whether adoption is the right route, and if so, if a baby or an older child is in store. I am trusting that God will make it clear to all of us when the time comes.