T.Marie Photography » Wichita Area Birth and Life Photographer

#worldadoptionday

There are 107,918 foster children eligible for and waiting to be adopted. In 2014, 50,644 foster kids were adopted — a number that has stayed roughly consistent for the past five years. The average age of a waiting child is 7.7 years old and 29% of them will spend at least three years in foster care.

If 1 in 500 of these adults adopted, every waiting child in foster care would have a permanent family. Every year, about 23,000 children age out of foster care without finding a permanent family. This is tragic for many reasons: Only 2% of children who age out of foster care will go on to get a college education, and 80% of the prison population comprises adults who were in the foster care system at some point on their childhood. -childwelfare.gov

I’ve kind of avoided writing this because it’s so loaded I don’t have a clue where to begin. This topic is so close to my heart, and the last thing I want to do is sound ‘holier than thou’. But here’s the thing… we have to step up.

I’ve definitely had the thought of writing a real book because this story is so detailed and only written by God himself. So, perhaps, stay tuned for that one-day.

I feel like I should start with a bit of my story.

My memory can be blurry at times, which I’ve now learned is caused by trauma and your body takes on a fight or flight mentality causing memory blocks because your main concern is survival. I’ll do the best I can retelling my story (without every detail or we’d be here all night) and where we are now.

I was born a baby. (like everyone haha) With very large cheeks.

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But really, after my cesarean, unbreastfed, vaccinated birth I was taken from my mother around the age of 3. My mother was an addict, dealt drugs, and was a prostitute. She was taken to jail where I was moved into a foster home then another. The only reason I remember leaving the first was because I pooped in the bathtub accidentally and I thought they didn’t want me anymore. I can’t even recall their names.

From there I moved back in with my mother (who had met a man), and my two brothers were quickly born and things seemed good.

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 Meeting my little brother with his (my) grandma. She’s taken me in and loved me as her own. She’s really my only grandmother.

Until they weren’t.

Around the age of 9 we were taken from the home again, put in several of our family’s homes, moved around until I was ripped away from my brothers and finally adopted at the age of 14 by complete strangers. A lot of things happened during this time, but it’s a lot, and I’ll save it for my book. 😉  The hardest thing to cope with was being separated from my brothers and we vowed if we’d ever foster we’d NEVER break apart siblings.  EVER.  I basically was the mother to my two younger brothers during a lot of scary stuff so it was as if my children were taken from me.

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Left: My aunt Sandy who was my home before my adoption home.

Middle: One of our last visits with our biological mother.

Right: One of our visits (Philip, right and Nathan, left) at my new permanent home.

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Left: The last letter my mother wrote to me

Right: The last visit with my mom (left) before my adopted mom (right) took over.

I never really got along at my new adopted home and we don’t speak today. I found my biological mother and that was a complete mess too (she’s CRAZY). Being ‘without’ a mother has been hard. Some days I just want to call my mom and ask her about my son’s sickness or see if she wants to go shopping. But I don’t have that. My husband also has mother issues (which now are resolved and awesome!) so our desire to raise a ‘normal’ family was strong from the start.

We started the process of fostering-to-adopt right as we found out we were pregnant. After telling our family, 1. They thought we were crazy, 2. We questioned if we were a little crazy, and 3. One comment will never leave me. “Why would you adopt if you can have children of your own”.

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After nearly completing the program (with a newborn baby) we felt we’d ‘pause’ on taking any children until Gus was at least six months old. Well, God had other plans. Being a little confused about the timing in all of this we knew God had walked us down this road and He still had the perfect child(ren) waiting for us.

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As a new, nursing mom I think we all worry about our child’s weight gain. So, being that mom, I made an appointment at my midwife’s office to get our baby weighed. Having a few minutes to spare before the appointment I grabbed some lunch for Jude and I and we headed to a park close to her office.

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After a nice lunch I really had to use the bathroom. Like baaaaad. And you know those postpartum bladders don’t hold it very long. Looking around, all I could spot was a single port-a-potty. Now there was no way I was taking a toddler and a baby in there. I had even considered squatting at this point but since there were so many people around I didn’t think that would be appropriate. By now I was pretty much desperate. I saw a nice family (the non axe-murderer type) sitting on a blanket not far from the potty. I walked up, asked them if they could watch my toddler and new baby and not kidnap them. They agreed and I gave Jude that look to not move a muscle and sit with his baby brother.

Seconds later the kids were still alive, and I sent Jude off to play. I sat down with the family and began having a conversation with them. I need to add this very unlike me. While I’m a friendly person I don’t typically strike up conversations at the park. Through conversation I found out they had a foster son (who was there playing) and a foster daughter who was in school. I lit up as she was talking and told them excitedly we had just finished the process to foster-to-adopt. She was telling me about that being strange because these two were most likely coming up for adoption soon. Chills all over my body I asked about the kids and her older daughter there was chuckling about how the foster daughter (we’ll call her Sister) looked a lot like me. Basically I was a nervous mess, gave her my contact information and said if they needed anyone to watch the kids we’d be interested, after I talked to my husband of course. She thanked me and we parted ways.

On my way home, I’m calling my husband and foster care worker telling them how I think I found our children. I’m pretty sure they both thought I was crazy. Then I realize I didn’t get a single ounce of the foster mom’s information! I knew the kids’ names and where Sister went to school but other than that nothing. I was devastated that I screwed this up!

I’m not even kidding, that night I get a phone call from an unknown number but it was clearly a ‘butt dial’. For some reason I kept listening and I recognized some of their conversation as the people from the park! I hung up, puzzled, and decided to text the number. It was her! Later, we found out the boy (Mister) had been playing with foster mom’s phone (he’s a toddler), apparently called me, then the foster mom just grabbed the phone and put it on top of the fridge out of the way (not realizing it was calling me). Now I had direct contact with her!

Fast-forward a month later. We have our first respite care visit with Mister for the weekend. A month later we have them both for a weekend. So on and so forth. Nearly ten visits later (and court date after court date) they moved in with us (three months ago) Then next step—ADOPTION! We knew the first visit he was ours. And Sister couldn’t have been any sweeter. She’s an exact replica of myself at her age (it’s creepy!), the best helper, and has the most sensitive heart—she’s wise beyond her age. The boys bicker, like brothers do, and my house is far messier than I could ever imagine. I’m dead tired by the end of the day and my life is filled with dishes and wiping butts. But, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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We have said since we were married we desired three boys and a girl. And count em people.  Here’s the thing. God’s plan is good–far better than ours. He calls us to live uncomfortable. He stretches us. He loves the orphans and calls us to care after them. Our story is nothing short of His ordained steps. I hope it inspires you to look into how you can foster and adopt. You won’t regret it.

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It only takes 1 in 500 to give every child a home.  This isn’t impossible.

Happy #worldadoptionday!

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  • Sally Manlove

    This is an AMAZING story. Thank you for sharing! We will be licensed foster parents in a month or so 🙂ReplyCancel

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