Miya was a tiny and precious little one who came with nothing other than the clothes on her body, a few blankets, and formula from the hospital. The professionals sat at the table and readied paperwork while Tanner and I studied and poured over every detail of this little girl, this beautiful image bearer of our God. We signed document after document, we were given instruction and a lot of information about her case and about her birth parents. After about two hours, our case managers and cps left our home and in no time our friends and family began to come over with gifts, food, and encouraging words. This baby that we didn't even know existed until that morning was already immensely loved, cherished and celebrated.
The following months were a flurry of weekly visits with her birth mom, appointments, more paperwork, cps + agency visits to our home, and tons of precious time getting to know our little girl. I was overjoyed to be a Mom, a foster Mom. We had been given an amazing gift. Tangled in with our joy of welcoming Miya was a tremendous amount of loss. The need for foster care + adoption is present because these children and their families are walking through things that are dark and difficult. It is easy, in the midst of fostering to conjure up feelings of hate and judgement because it's maddening to think about all the hurt these children have experienced. They didn't ask for any of it, they are undeserving of all of it. The truth is that as followers of Jesus, we must offer grace to these parents, because that is what Jesus offers us each and every day. We must pray for them to know Him as Savior, to be radically changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. That right there changes things.
When Miya was 6 months old, we got another call and accepted our second placement. In a few days we welcomed brothers, spunky and lively little boys ages 4 and 18 months. Goodness were we tired after they joined our family! These boys were with us for a short 2 weeks, and then left to join there biological family. When they left our home it was devastating. We were wrecked. We took a few days and left town in order to mourn and heal. Kids leaving is a MAJOR deterrent for people when considering to foster/foster to adopt. It was not easy to let go, but it is doable. After some time had passed, we were able to understand that our role in their lives was to love and care for them while their family was able to take the necessary steps to welcome them into their home. We weren't their forever family but the imprint they left on us will remain forever. God used them to stretch and grow us, to deepen our understanding of His love for us all.
During the remaining 6 months of Miya's case, it became clear that the State was going to pursue termination of rights for both birth parents. We were relieved and overjoyed because all arrows were pointing to adoption, but we were also grieved for both birth parents and for Miya. Even though Miya was gaining a forever family through adoption she had also lost her biological family.
After the final court hearing for Miya and the celebration of her first birthday, we got another call. We welcomed our son, Levi into our lives on May 18, 2015. He was a quiet (large) little 2 1/2 year old boy with lifeless, tired eyes and a gentle spirit.
Levi's journey to us was much different. He had been bounced around while in the foster system. This picture still shocks me, it hardly looks like him. We saw such a difference in him after a few weeks of consistent love, structure, and a stable environment.
These two became fast friends. Levi encouraged Miya to walk and cheered her on as she took her first steps. They are best buds, friends and siblings until the end.
After Levi was placed with us, the weekly visits began, court hearings happened and in February 2016 we knew that we would be able to adopt Levi. Same story here, we were thrilled to have him join our family but grieved this biological family's loss.
On August 10, 2016 we adopted BOTH Miya Drew House + Levi Dean House.
A day we had anticipated for over 2 years. A day when the government recognized what we had known in our hearts for a long time, we were family.
God's plan was different from ours. We assumed that our family would grow in the traditional sense and that we would eventually adopt. Instead we were prompted to pursue foster care as a means to adopt and grow our family. We entered in with open hands that God so graciously filled. He built our family and we wouldn't want it any other way.
Foster care is hard. It's grimy, ugly, messy but also beautiful and redemptive. Our prayer is that our story, the story He is writing, would reflect His image of love, mercy and undeserved favor because that is what we've been given and that is what He is offering to ALL.