“’I could never do that. I would get too attached. My husband would never go for it. I need to figure out how to parent my own child before considering others.’
这些只是我听到的有关寄养的常见回应。我完全理解它们，因为在开始旅程之前，我自己说了很多事情。我们还说，我们只能带一个2岁以下的孩子，因为四个孩子是我们可以应付的最大孩子。现在，作为一个10口之家, that has clearly changed. Here is a little piece of our adoption story and how one small step in faith can lead to unimaginable gifts and growth.
Almost 15 years ago, a seed was planted in my heart regarding foster care. We were newly married, with no children, and pretty naïve about the needs in this world. I remember spending one afternoon talking to a young couple about their choice to be foster parents before having biological children. I was baffled. Inspired. I wanted to learn more. That entire evening, I sat in tears, scrolling hundreds of faces of children online, already up for adoption in Michigan. A 6-year-old boy wrote: ‘All I want is a family to love me. I hope they have a dog. I am really good at math and promise to keep my room clean.’
安迪终于同意我们可以有一个孩子nd declared, ‘I don’t care if we go to China and adopt, do foster care, or have one more biologically… but only one.’ That was all I needed to hear! By the end of that day, we were all signed up to take the classes to become foster parents! 10 years in the making. And so it began.
因为我们的三个男孩还很年轻，所以我们只获得了两个以下两个孩子的许可。计划是保留出生顺序，因为这听起来正确。大约一年后，一个可爱的1岁女孩暂时加入了我们的家人。在我们的第一次父母访问中，我的心向她的亲生母亲感到惊讶。不久之后，我发现她在怀里哭泣，感谢我照顾她的孩子。我向她保证，我们会一起制定一个计划，让她的小女孩回家。同时，我发现我怀有我们的第四个儿子。哇！上帝是如此聪明！他知道埃兹拉（Ezra）是我们难题的缺失，但是我们需要在他在2014年进入世界之前获得许可！ That little girl did eventually go home and is doing well now. It is such a gift to still get occasional updates.
2 years later, I will never forget a feeling catching me off guard during a conversation with my husband. As he drove the car, I stared into the nearby water, contemplating, praying, and pleading in my head for clarity on where God was taking us. Just as we crossed the local bridge, my husband spoke profound words that ring in my ears to this day.
不到一个月后，即2017年9月8日，我们的10周年纪念日，卡伯加入了我们的家人。一个美丽的棕色色调的小女孩，有着黑色的戒指头发，穿着肮脏的连体衣和短裤标有3个月的标签。太小了，即使是一个身材娇小的20个月大。他们用超大的黑色和灰色羊毛猎豹毯子包裹，他们移交了这个害怕，安静的小女孩，并在几分钟之内就离开了。没有尿布，食物或教学。我很震惊。我们依ugg，唱歌，然后洗个澡，得到了新鲜的衣服。很快，她在比赛，但从未流浪。她花了几乎整整一年的时间才从我身后走出来，并在新成年人周围微笑。在每次法庭听证会上，案件工作者都会在看台上谈论这个小女孩与她在我们家住宿的开始相比有何不同。 She was slowly feeling safe, secure, and connected. Watching her transform before my eyes will forever make foster care worth it.
在2个月后的2017年10月29日，她的兄弟特拉维斯（Travis）出生的另一个情节转折中。这个金发，蓝眼睛的小男孩以幸福而平静的性格进入了这个世界。有一个婴儿在家中，我们每周三次与他们的亲生父母一起去探望，每个小时两个小时。对我们而言，重要的是要与孩子的父母建立关系，并清楚地表明我们不在那里取代他们。他们有我的手机，欢迎您发短信或更新。早些时候，我们甚至邀请他们去我们的教堂，然后在麦当劳参观午餐。有时，我在冬季给他们妈妈去公交车站。尽管这不是寄养护理中的常态，但重要的是在让他们知道我们相信它们的同时建立信任。没有父母的意图忽略或伤害孩子的意图醒来。我们都犯了错误，并有机会向他们学习。 Sadly, I find many bio parents give up as, without support or even their own self-worth, the task feels nearly impossible. We tried our best to extend grace, love, and forgiveness even in difficult circumstances. We hoped they would do the work.
The ‘big hearing’ was just two short months later, on February 18, 2019. Termination of Parental Rights. My heart broke for the parents and simultaneously for these three children. The plan was to allow parents to sign off rights on the two big kids, after 1.5 years without progress, and be given the opportunity to work out a new plan with baby Violet. Unfortunately, they did not show up to court. I know this was because they felt defeated. They felt decisions were already made and did not want to endure the 3-hour-long hearing with endless testimonies as to why they are unfit parents. The judge was frustrated because they did not show up and ultimately decided to put the newborn baby on the plan with the two older kids. All three were now headed to adoption. I was shocked and sad. I felt nervous about what was to come, with a mix of unique excitement about what this might mean for our future.
The visits stopped. The caseworker and licensing visits minimized while an adoption worker took the lead. Things seemed to be hitting a new normal and we felt like a family of nine. This is when things drastically changed. In May 2019, I attended a conference where a father and son duo spoke about their personal experience of adopting ‘older kids’ from foster care. My heart was changed completely because of their journey, however, I had no idea God would use it for our family or the timing. Just a few days later, our caseworker who I trusted as a friend and fellow believer, said something that rocked my world. I will never forget the exact place I stood with my back to her, looking out the window as I felt hot tears fill my eyes. ‘Don’t do it, God,’ I thought to myself, feeling the heat rise.
“我想问你,安迪pray for a little 7-year-old boy. He is amazing, so smart and adorable, and needs a forever home. He is also Kamber’s half brother.’ Prior to the conversation with these men, I would have never considered an older child at this point. Although keeping siblings together is incredibly important to us, we also had older boys and a child with special needs we needed to protect. However, I have learned it’s hard to tell Jesus no. He opened doors and discussions about what this might look like moving forward. Including many with our biological boys! Especially Easton, who would be the same age as this new placement. We made it very clear their opinions, worries, and thoughts mattered.
It took one visit to decide. We met at a park to play, lining us up as a friend of his current foster mom to keep it casual. The kids had a blast! This boy, Ethan, was so intrigued by our family and joked he wanted to go home with us. Everyone laughed and casually said goodbye. At the time, no one knew Ethan and Kamber were related. They had never met before that day. As we left, tears rolled down my cheeks in silence, the significance of this decision weighed heavily on me. Suddenly, my oldest son Eli yelled from the back of our twelve passenger van, ‘So when does he move in?’ I was shocked and didn’t answer him. He followed up with decisiveness, ‘Mom, he doesn’t have a family. We have an extra bed, we have room for him.’ My other boys eagerly agreed.
Through much prayer, we jumped on the fast track and became a family of ten within the next month. After two successful overnights, on June 8, 2019, Ethan moved in! During a session with his counselor and myself, we disclosed Kamber was his half-sister. He was so thrilled! Especially after being separated from his two older siblings, who now lived with their biological dad, and three younger siblings who live with an aunt, this was a blessing. Even though we visit his siblings frequently, those homes were not the right fit for him and God had a plan. To this day, the instant bond between Ethan and Kamber still makes my heart melt.
The summer of 2019, looking back, was a whirlwind of emotion. The honeymoon phase died quickly and soon enough we realized this was going to be the hardest thing we ever encountered in our 5 years of foster care. Trauma changes the brain. Sibling fights, daily phone calls from the school, learned behaviors used to ‘survive’ now needed to be changed. I ran an emotional marathon every day. I also trusted God’s provision and knew he did not call us here without providing a way through it. Thankfully, with lots of therapy, the constancy of ‘connection before correction,’ medication, and the grace of God, we have a totally different kid today who is THRIVING!
我们收养的最终确定时间比预期的要长得多。平均是终止后3到6个月，但我们的时间为19个月。在两者之间，我们经历了大流行，包括我最不喜欢的隔离区。我爱我的八个孩子，但我没有签约成为24/7的老师，治疗师，厨师，女仆，朋友或裁判！这很累。但是，上帝正在教我们所有人在我们家中的有价值的教训。优雅。解决问题。强迫放慢脚步。家庭晚餐更频繁。 Lots of game nights. Dance parties. Way too much baking! No jealousy over friends because they could only play with one another. It was actually a gift.
Finally, on September 9, 2020, our four foster kids became forever a Goldsmith! A bit anti-climatic, because due to the pandemic, no in-person court hearings were allowed. We got a text message signaling the completion of the process. However, telling the kids was so special. Our family is now exactly how it was supposed to be! Last-minute, my friend made the most beautiful cake with each of their names, and a sign reading, ‘Best Day Ever!’ A few weeks later, we fulfilled one of Ethan’s dreams: a big party to celebrate adoption. It was at a gymnastics center that was able to operate even during the pandemic. Such a sweet memory.
For anyone considering this road, I encourage you to pray. Talk to other people. Research. Build a community of support. God will not lead you astray. That nagging pull at my heart persisted for 10 years before we finally took the leap. Many days I felt I was walking blindly while praying God would lead each step. There has been no greater exercise of trust in Him.
Although some days I still feel completely lost in this journey, he provides a door, window, or sometimes just a crack, to the other side. ‘Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.’ (1 Corinthians 13:13).”
‘We received a call. ‘Do you want to adopt all 5 siblings?’ It was an instant, ‘YES!’ We told our babies they were finally safe, that we would never harm them.’: Mom of 4 adopts 5 siblings from foster care after miscarriage, twin loss, ‘They have healed my heart’