Our Story: And God laughed…
Gene and I met in 2002 while attending SWOSU. God had his hand in us meeting for sure. I grew up as a Baptist preacher’s daughter in TX. I had never even heard of the Nazarene church. Gene’s pastor of almost 10 years, his wife (the piano player for the church), and six children (they now have 10 kids) moved to Texas. My sister started playing the piano for the Weatherford Church of the Nazarene. I started attending to help with their upcoming Easter Cantata. I was pretty smitten with him from the start. 2 months later we were officially dating, engaged 5 months later, and married 14 months after that in 2003. We knew we wanted kids, 1 boy and 1 girl. We even had their names picked out before we were married. In 2005 Hannah was born. In 2007 Isaac came along. We were done. We had our boy and girl. We bought our perfect house (slightly out of our price range, but perfect size for our family of 4), and we stated that we’d never move. Life was good and just as we planned it.
We visited with Gene’s former pastor right after Isaac was born. We told them we were done having kids. They asked “Are you sure that’s what God wants?” (Remember, they have 10 kids) Yes, we were sure God only wanted us to have our 2 kids. Hannah started Kindergarten at my school in a very poverty-stricken area of OKC. She started talking about a classmate that she wanted to pray for because he had a very hard home life. We prayed for this little guy and in 1st grade he and his brother came in to DHS custody. We had never thought about Fostering or Adopting. We had our 2 kids right? We were done. We planned, and God laughed at our plans and we ended up fostering these 2 boys for 6 months. They left in August 2012 to join their sisters and be adopted by their Aunt.
Well we did our “good deed”; we fostered these 2 boys. Now we can go back to our comfortable and safe family. God started talking to my heart around Christmas 2012 and we decided maybe we needed to foster again. This time we would just take babies. We were certified and signed our contract June 19, 2013. We had prayed for months for the baby that would need us. Prayed for his/her safety, health, overall well-being and that God would bring this baby to us at just the right time. We got the call the next day about a 7 month old little girl. We said Yes! We had her 2 weeks and she went to live with an Aunt that eventually adopted her.
People always say, “Oh I could never foster, you just get too attached and I could never give them back.” Yes, it is very hard when these babies that you love as your own leave. Yes, you cry, usually a very ugly cry, but you just keep going. You start praying for the next baby that will need you. Our next baby was a newborn boy. We were told he would be with us for a very long time because parents were incarcerated and there was no family that could take the baby. We brought him home from the hospital and 4 days later got the call that family had been found and he was leaving in 4 hours. Seriously? Would we ever get to have a baby stay with us??
The next day we brought home a precious almost 7 month old (the next day was 7 months) little guy. We were his 6th placement. My heart breaks when I think about this baby, my baby spending his first 4 days of life in the DHS Shelter. We had no idea of the roller coaster we were getting on with this little dude. After 2 years of ups and downs with his case, and the case looking like reunification was going to happen, this Little Dude’s parents asked us out of the blue if we would adopt him. I have never felt so much joy and sadness all at this same time. We love his parents so much. They are the bravest, most loving parents I know. On June 9, 2015, we adopted Spencer. Again, I have never felt so much joy and sadness at the same time. Spencer knows that he has two mommies and daddies. We’ve told him about his biological parents (Paul and Crystal) and try to keep them updated on him. This last Sunday, I was delighted to see him light up at the mention of the story about Paul and Silas. “Paul? Like my other daddy? Yea!”
Fostering is very hard. It is very ugly. It is full of brokenness and sadness. We live in a broken world and sadly this is a cycle for many families. We wanted to love these families. I don’t think at the beginning I truly understood what that meant. It is hard to not be judgmental. It is hard to love these people that don’t seem to be able to get their lives together enough to get their kids back. My heart is forever changed thanks to fostering. I look at these parents not as drug addicts but people who are lost and struggling and have no support, no hope. This is what I think we as a Church are called to be; the hope (or representation of Hope) to these lost and hurting people.
In June 2014 we decided well, we have managed 3 kids, what’s 1 more. We brought home 2 little girls that we only had about a month, they left to go live with an aunt. We decided we only wanted a single baby, no older siblings, because you know, older kids are so much harder. So we told our agency we only wanted a single baby; no siblings this time. Here is where God saw us making our plans and laughed again. I felt God saying there was a 4 year old that needed us. Gene didn’t feel the same way (but did mention later that God had just been giving him the number 4 over and over in his head for days). We got the call the next day about a 4 month old and her 4 year old sister. There was the 4 year old God had placed on my heart. After lots of prayers and 3 phone calls with our agency, we finally said Yes! These 2 girls officially became “Strongs” on December 4, 2015, after we had had them 14 months. We were told a few months before their adoption that their mom was pregnant again. We prayed A LOT!
We spent many hours on the road to and from Lawton visiting (just sitting and holding/being present with) a little boy that had a long road of withdrawal symptoms (tremors mainly) ahead of him. He spent 47 days in the NICU; the longest any of the nurses working there had ever heard of for an NAS baby. NAS is short for Neonatal abstinence syndrome and is more or less technical jargon for a baby born addicted to whatever illicit substance the mother used during pregnancy. Just a week ago we sat and watched/listened to his (and his two sister’s) mother as she relinquished her parental rights without shedding a tear. Oh we both cried like babies, but it was awkward to watch her demeanor, and we both ended up telling ourselves it was just a front she had put up to make it easier on herself. The court terminated dad’s rights by default since he had failed to show to 5 different proceedings and now this little boy is on his way to being adopted soon this summer. He has never known any home other than the NICU and our home, but we plan to make sure that he knows he has 2 mommies and 2 daddies.
And it seems like this adventure is not slowing down. We’ve outgrown our “perfect” house and have started looking for something bigger. We’ve outgrown two different cars in 6 months, and if they adventure continues the current path we will soon outgrow the current vehicles we drive. It’s all just money, right? My God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and will provide for anything he calls us to. The End…?