Lord, for every person who reads this, speak to them. Make this story real for them, help them to walk a mile in the shoes of a child in foster care. All children are of equal importance to You and they should be to us as well. Reveal to them their next step in being Your hands and feet to orphans. Amen.
We had 3 biological and 1 foster child all under the age of 6 before Ellie came to live with us. It was never our plan for her to join our family, but God's plan always trumps ours. I thought we were maxed out with 4 children in our 1100sqft, 3 bedroom house, so we were done taking in children, but wanted to help get a child out of the shelter for Thanksgiving. I contacted a foster friend and she connected me with a caseworker who was helping connect families with children. We were told that there was a very overweight 5 year old that was constantly bullied in school that would love to spend the holiday with us, so we happily agreed. A couple days before Thanksgiving we were told that little girl had found another family to spend the holiday with, but there was a 3 year old that we could take for the day. The first time I met Ellie at the shelter, I thought they must have gotten her age wrong when they told me that she was going to be 4 in a week. She was the size of a 24 month old, could barely speak intelligibly, couldn't run and could barely stand up for any length of time without her ankles giving out and falling to the ground. She did not want to be hugged and had the saddest eyes I'd ever seen. We tried all day long to make her smile and laugh and she did... a few times. Most of the time she glared and yelled at the other kids or ignored me. I was looking forward to the end of the day and thinking that this little girl was definitely not a fit for our family, BUT GOD. After taking her to see Christmas lights, we drove her back to the shelter. I will never forget her screams as she realized where we were at. She clung to me with her little arms and legs holding on as tight as she could as she screamed over and over again, "NO! NO! DON'T LEAVE ME!" Tears were rolling down my face at this point, knowing there was no way I could rescue this little girl immediately with it being Thanksgiving evening. As they peeled her off of me one limb at a time, I promised her that we would come back for her.
I didn't sleep for 4 nights. When I closed my eyes, I imagined how scared this little girl must be living in a shelter, knowing no one. I didn't know a single thing about her story. I didn't know if they would let us foster her, if she would be with us 2 days or forever. I didn't even know if she had siblings. We just said, "yes." We called first thing Monday morning and they gave us permission to pick her up that afternoon - an absolute miracle in the DHS/foster care world. Seth took 2 of the kids to go pick her up and I will never forget seeing her sweet, smiling face as she walked in our front door, only God knowing that she was finally home.
Then we heard her story. This was the 2nd time Ellie had been in DHS custody and this case was classified as "shocking and heinous," just like the case of our other adopted daughter, Hannah. Ellie was taken into custody at the age of 16 months because she was found wandering alone in just a diaper in a parking lot. Friends of mom's were supposed to be watching her. The place mom and Ellie were living at was with multiple people and it was covered in human blood, feces and had switchblades and axes on the floor. There was also no food in the home. DHS returned Ellie to her mother a week later. Fast forward 2 years... and this brings us to Kristian's story.
|Right before |
entering state custody.
The first day Ellie was officially our foster daughter, we found out that she had a 6 month old brother, Kristian James (KJ). He was staying in an emergency foster home. When they came into care, KJ was only 2 months old and was brought to the hospital for 2 fractured femurs and a fractured humerus. 2 months old. Not only did he have 3 fractures, but two of them were healing fractures, which means they were broken at an earlier date and his parents did not take him to be treated medically. It is still hard to wrap my head around this as I type. At least one of the fractures occurred during a diaper change and for over a year, KJ would scream and scream, every time I laid him down to change his diaper. KJ and Ellie stayed in a kinship home for 3 months, which is a home of someone the birth parents knew and recommended to care for their children. They were taken out of that home because the kinship family was dealing drugs out of the house, among many other things. The children were separated after that. Ellie went to a shelter and KJ went to an emergency home until we reunited them 2 weeks after we picked up Ellie. We now had 6 children under 6 in our tiny house, and God was almost tangible, His presence was so evident.
KJ was a quiet, sad and floppy baby for the first week we had him. He seemed depressed and almost like he was in a constant daze. I thought surely he had major delays, but almost miraculously after that first week, he perked right up. He gained 5 lbs in one month, started smiling and laughing and hasn't stopped since.
When KJ had just turned 1, I noticed their birth mom's clothes getting tighter and tighter around her midsection. Shortly thereafter we found out she was 20 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. Talk about a SHOCK. Honestly, it shouldn't have been a shock based on mom's history, but when that baby is most likely coming to live with you in a few short months, it's a shock. It was an odd feeling to know that quite possibly our future daughter was in someone else's womb. A womb that likely did not provide her with the nourishment she needed or the protection. Mom would have deep bruises on her body at some of the visits, that greatly concerned me. Our sweet Charlotte (Charlie), joined us at 3 days old. She was so tiny at just over 5lbs and she was in this huge carseat that DHS transported her in. Her big blue eyes were so wide and bright and I could not put her down. I was heartbroken for her birth mom that was holding and feeding this baby just hours before and now she was gone. Only those who have gone through this can understand the joy of having a new baby, but also the heartbreak of knowing this baby's mother was going through hell. It leaves you with a very unsettled soul regardless of the reasons the baby was taken into custody.
Ellie is almost 7 now, and my most attentive little helper. She adores helping with the younger children and has the most encouraging spirit. Just a month after having her, the caseworker was astounded at the changes and couldn't believe it was the same little girl. Since Ellie was almost 4 when she came to us, she has had the most difficulty bonding, but she has made huge strides in the past few months since visits with birth parents have been stopped. Her health is excellent and she requires no more speech, physical or occupational therapy.
KJ is 3 and my most joyful child. He is full of energy and smart as a whip. He has no health issues from his past abuse, but I often wonder how it will affect him mentally when he is old enough to understand what happened to him.
Charlie is almost 2 and is a spitfire... still petite and as stubborn as she can be. She is a mama's girl and her favorite place is on my hip.
Oh, and do you remember the 5 year old we were "supposed" to get that Thanksgiving? I found out a year later that she spent that holiday with our pastor. How fun it was to share that their obedience in welcoming a child into their home, brought us 3 of our children. Only God. Love HIM.
Sometimes I worry about the future and some of the situations that adoptive parents and children face as they get older. But then God gently reminds me of how they came to our family and that He has plans that I can't even begin to imagine. Love these words of wisdom from Oswald Chambers, "God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?" Thank you Abba for my 3 babies. What a gift they are from the Lord!
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17