“Oh, that’s adorable!” I said as I held up another cute pink baby dress.
“Open mine next.” I was handed a small package by my best friend. Once I tore the paper off, I realized it was a musical book just like I had asked for.
Sitting there with all of my friends from church, I could hardly believe that I was having a baby shower. I had dreamed of this day for so long and all of the days that went with it. The one of holding my baby for the first time, the time when she first smiled at me, even her first doctor’s visit. All events that I had begun to believe I would never get to experience as I got closer to forty.
I had long dreamed of finding a Christian husband and having a family. As a teenager, I had imagined a future filled with children. Once I entered my twenties, I dated all kinds of men in search of a mate, some who weren’t good choices. After turning thirty, I made the decision to look only for men with strong Christian values. As I got older, it seemed to be harder to meet such a man. I also had older parents who got sick and needed more of my attention, which didn’t allow me time to think of my future. “Is it Your plan for me to not have a family?” I often asked God amidst tears of frustration and loneliness. At some point, I accepted His answer as no and determined to live my life alone as happily as I could.
I had thought about adoption off and on for many years. It always seemed like a backup plan to what I truly wanted, even though I felt called to work with troubled children. I knew several people who became foster parents and knew that was an option I could pursue. But I never quite felt ready to take the next step, instead believing that God would provide the family I wanted in His time.
“There’s an informational meeting on foster parenting at a church,” my sister informed me one spring day. “You should go.”
I thought about her words. I had looked into fostering on the internet but hadn’t done anything about it. Yes, I should go, I decided. Maybe this was God’s leading. At the very least I would learn more about it and decide if this was truly an option for me. Maybe it would change my life.
That was the first step in an amazing journey to motherhood. After attending the meeting, I signed up with a Christian organization that would provide the training and other requirements for me to be licensed as a foster parent. I learned that I would have to take ten weeks of fostering classes and complete a home study, which was a report written by my licensing worker. My house had to pass inspection and I had to be trained in CPR and first aid. Because she lived with me, my sister also had to attend the training.
I was blessed to have Amy, a wonderful person as my licensing worker. She talked through all of my questions and guided me on planning for children in my home and wrote an excellent home study.
“What have we got ourselves into?” asked one of the mothers in the training classes with me. We had become friends and occasional carpooled together when her husband was out of town. Much of the information in the classes was based on worst case scenario but managed to frighten us anyway. That day’s class was about kids tearing up furniture and abusing pets as part of their behavorial issues.
“I have to believe that God will take care of me if this is His plan for me,” I said. No matter what I said, I often had doubts and fears for what would happen. I portrayed a strong confident woman, but inside I was terrified of what God might expect of me. Could I really handle those difficult cases? Did I have that much faith?
After officially being licensed, I expected to be contacted immediately but the phone stayed quiet for several months after that. I had actually quit carrying my cell around hoping for a call. Finally, I got a call about an emergency short-term placement for a twelve-year old boy. That was the beginning. It lasted less than a week but gave me the confidence that I could be a good foster parent.
One afternoon a few weeks after my first placement, I got an unexpected call from my licensing worker about a two week old baby girl who was just being placed in care. I was shocked and overjoyed.
“Of course, I’ll take her,” I said.
“You know she’s too young for daycare, right?”
“Yes, but we’ll figure something out.” I was not about to turn down such a special opportunity.
Three hours later, I was holding a healthy two week old baby girl in my arms. I could hardly believe that God had given me exactly what I wanted, just through different channels. He was using me to bless some child’s life in a small way even as I was being blessed.
Who knows how long I will have her, whether a few weeks, months or forever. But I love her every day as if she was mine. For the truth is, she is a gift from God, just like all children are. They are only on loan to us, to love and nurture and train to know and serve Him. We never know what the next day will bring, but God has a perfect plan for each of us if only we are willing to follow it.