Instinct of the Heart
“There is no instinct like that of the heart.” —Lord Byron
Sometimes, you just have an instinct…a hard-to-describe, out-of-the-blue feeling that can get the ball rolling to lead your life down a path previously unseen.
We were blessed beyond measure with three precious sons. However, there was this feeling that someone was missing from our family. Adoption had crossed our minds in the past, but my husband and I were really unsure how to get started. In my search, I found the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange website and came across the Texas Heart Galleries of children waiting to be adopted. Founded in 2001, the organization highlights foster children in protective custody in hopes of matching them with an adoptive family. It was both eye-opening and heartbreaking to see the number of children waiting for a forever family. A link caught my eye advertising informational meetings to learn more about becoming a foster or foster-to-adopt home. We decided to attend a local meeting to learn more about the process. At that moment, we made a simple decision that changed our lives forever in the best way possible.
We decided that fostering to adopt might be right for us, and soon after, PRIDE classes started in February. After a few Saturdays of training and hundreds of pages of paperwork, we were a certified foster-to-adopt home. The trainers teach you that the end goal of foster care is always reunification with the biological family, but our Foster Adoptive Development worker knew we felt compelled to adopt. She placed a precious little girl with us with a family history that would likely end in adoption. We were on our yearly beach vacation, happily taking pictures of our sweet girl playing in the sand, when I got the call that she would be removed from our home to be placed with a relative. Instantly, our hearts were broken. In retrospect, I feel like this was an important part of our story. If this had not happened, our journey would have ended with her adoption. The experience of “giving her back” ultimately gave us the confidence to continue fostering after adoption. More importantly, our next placement, a tiny toddler with the biggest brown eyes I’d ever seen, would not be my daughter today.
Our oldest daughter loves to hear me tell the story about that September day. Just last week, at eleven years old, she asked me to tell her yet again... I responded to her, “You must have it memorized by now. You’ve heard it so many times!” She said, “I do, but I want to hear it again.” So I began, “I walked down the sidewalk and was so excited to meet you that I couldn’t even think straight. I opened the caseworker’s car door, and you were staring out the opposite window. As you turned to look at me, we had such an instant bond that it was hard to put it into words, and I knew you were my daughter forever. I picked you up from your car seat, and you clung to me like a spider monkey. We walked into the house, and I showed you your new room and gave you your soft pink blanket wrapped with a ribbon. You held on to it and wouldn’t let it go.”
The saying “it takes a village” proved true as my family was there to meet our sweet girl and shower her with diapers, clothes, and toys they had picked up moments after I had received the call that she was on her way. I held her pretty much the rest of that day. It took a few days for her to warm up to her Daddy and brothers, but soon, it was like she’d always been a part of our family. She was sassy and sweet…a perfect combination.
Despite thinking that our adoption chapter was over, we still decided to keep our home open for foster care after we adopted our first daughter. We had received such an amazing gift from the foster care system and hated to close our home when there were so few open foster homes in our area. This allowed us the opportunity to love on those babies and be part of their lives, even if it wasn’t forever. One of my favorite things about being an adoption and foster family was watching my children open their home and hearts to each child that came through our door. The love and patience they showed reading just one more story, holding a bottle, or sitting on the floor playing spoke to their commitment and character. I was always so thankful and proud of the ways they helped our family every step of the way.
Much to our surprise, seven years after adopting our oldest daughter, we received a call right before Christmas. The caseworker needed a placement for a newborn baby girl, and I’m so thankful we said, "Yes!" Our second daughter arrived a few hours later, and she was absolutely perfect in every way! Even though she was a premie, she had the chubbiest, most kissable cheeks God ever made. I’ll never forget when her red and white hat fell off; we couldn’t believe her tiny head full of jet-black hair. She was the best baby and fell right in with our routine, even cheering on her brother at his basketball game at two weeks old. We planned to foster, not adopt. However, the first time I held her in my arms, I knew she would be with us forever.
Our family is loud and crazy, and now I can say absolutely complete because of adoption. People laugh when they ask the ages of my five kids, and I say 21 to two! There is no doubt in my mind that this was the plan all along; we just didn’t know it. I’m so thankful we left that informational meeting ten years ago and decided to take this journey. Adoption has been such a wonderful and life-changing part of our family. This short poem speaks true to my heart when I think about our daughters:
“I didn’t give you the gift of life, but in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real as if it had been so.
For us to have each other is like a dream come true.
No, I didn’t give you the gift of life. Life gave me the gift of you.”
For more information on fostering and adoption, please go to https://www.forthesakeofone.com/pages/get-involved/interested-in-fostering-or-adopting