This is about our passion for foster kids and our journey to becoming foster parents. It’s about being sought out for a private adoption and then losing our daughter when the birth mom changed her mind and took her back. It’s our story about how God carried us – how He gave us hope in the midst of our pain… This journey changed me – in big ways. I still cry. I miss her and in my heart she will always be my baby girl.
~Names have been changed for privacy reasons~
It all started when I was in elementary school.
She was different, empty and sad. No one wanted to know her because she was so different. One look at her, and there was a tug on my heart. I didn’t care what I stood to lose, I knew that I had to tell her about Jesus. I knew that He was the hope that she needed.
Her name was Tara. She was broken. We all are, but with her the brokenness was so deep, there was no hiding it. As I got to know her, she revealed her story. Her parents were killed in front of her. Her brother was taken in by her Aunt and Uncle, but they did not want her. So, there she was all alone having lost everything. And there we were, sitting together on the swing on the elementary school playground. She had no hope and no one in the world who loved her or, who wanted her. She had been in so many foster homes, never to find one to call her own.
I told her about Jesus: that no matter what, He loved her so much. So much that He died on the cross for her so that she could spend eternity with Him. She asked Jesus in her heart that day. I gave her my Bible and told her that Jesus would never leave her. No matter where life took her, He would be there too. For the first time since her parents died, she had a real sense of hope. She knew that Jesus loved her.
The following day Tara was gone. I rushed home after school and frantically told my mom. We drove straight back to the school and asked about Tara and where she was. They told us that they were not able to give us that information. All they could say was that she was okay but that she had moved to yet another foster home.
I had a deep sadness as I realized that once again she had been tossed aside not to find a place to call home. But at the same time, I knew this move was different for her than all the others. This time, she got to take Jesus with her and she knew she was loved.
I prayed for Tara everyday. Even at my young age I felt led to pray that she would cling to the Lord and that one day, she would have a forever family.
From that time on, I told Jesus that if I was ever rich, I would adopt. I told Him that I wanted to make a difference and help kids know they are loved.
As I got older, my passion for orphans grew. I also came to realize that I do not have to be rich to care for orphans; I just have to be willing. Tara made an impact on my life that forever changed me.
When I got married, my husband Aaron and I started praying about how God might want to use our family. It was clear that the passion for orphans that was once mine, was now also my husband’s. God was doing a work in both of our lives, and it was evident that He wanted us to care for orphans. This realization started our journey down a road that was so unknown to us. We would soon see that our journey was more than just about the passion God had given us. It was going to be one that would build our faith in unimaginable ways. And it would prove to be a journey that would teach us to put our hand in the Lord’s and move forward, no matter what.
God gave us a passion for orphans, specifically those in foster care. We had the privileged of having a little baby boy in our home named Jeremiah. He was such a joy and blessing. Foster care in no way was an easy road, but it was worth it. We were so blessed to have this sweet baby boy as a part of our family – however long that would be.
While Aaron and I were doing foster care, we were sought out for a private adoption. This was not at all what we had thought God wanted us to do, but we took it to Him in prayer. After much prayer, we realized that this was exactly what God wanted us to do.
After meeting the birth mom, we knew in our hearts we were doing the right thing. We would soon be blessed with another daughter.
With each passing day, we grew more and more excited about meeting our baby girl. Amazingly, it felt nearly the same as when I was pregnant with our first daughter Hailey. The only difference was that this time, we carried our daughter in our hearts. We had that same uncontrollable joy as we anticipated what it would be like to hold her; to love her. We named her Jeana after my mom and grandma. Aaron and I were thrilled for the day that Jeana would join our family.
On July 16th, the most wonderful phone call came. Liz had gone to the hospital. We were so excited! It would only be a matter of time before we would be holding our baby girl, and we rushed down to meet her.
When Jeana was placed in my arms, I fell in love right away. Looking down at her, I saw that she was incredibly beautiful, absolutely perfect, and such a blessing already.
The hard part was that I wanted Jeana all to myself. But that wasn’t an option since her birth mom and grandma were with us as well. Though it was a bit awkward, I hadn’t thought that part would be easy. It was a bittersweet moment. Here I was holding my baby girl who also had another mommy.
I knew that Liz’s heart had to be hurting even though she believed she was making the right decision. Imagining her position was impossible for me. Yet I was proud of Liz for doing what she felt was best for Jeana—what we all felt was best. Tomorrow, we would come back to bring our new daughter home.
Before we had a chance to leave the next day, I got a phone call from the agency saying that Liz wanted me to come alone to get Jeana. I was nervous to go by myself, but I respected Liz’s wishes. As I walked into the hospital I had no idea what to expect. When I got to her room, Liz was saying goodbye to Jeana. I hugged them both and told Liz that I loved her. Part of me wanted to tell her that she did not have to do this, yet I felt at peace that this was what was meant to be. It was a part of God’s plan.
I loaded Jeana into the van, said goodbye to Liz, and drove away. I was so filled with emotion that I started to cry. I told Jeana how much we loved her and that we were so excited for her to be a part of our family. Joy welled up inside me as it sunk in that I was bringing our baby girl home. She was coming home. God had blessed us with a beautiful baby girl named Jeana. And I had the great pleasure and honor of being her mommy.
When we got home, Jeana and I were greeted by big sister Hailey who was overjoyed to have a baby sister. She gave her so many hugs and kisses.
The first day Jeana was home, I was rocking her and thinking that I wanted to hold my heart back a little. My biggest fear was that I would lose her. So, I tried to convince myself that I needed to be prepared and hold back. But when I looked down at Jeana, she was looking up at me as if to say, “Hi mommy. I feel so safe and so loved”. At that very moment, I surrendered. I let go of my fears and I realized I was in love with this sweet baby girl that God had given to us. She was amazing—so precious—and she deserved to be loved with my whole heart. After that, there was no holding back. I just loved her.
It was so fun to have two sweet daughters. Sisters. It is what I’d always dreamed of. Jeana fit perfectly with our entire family, one thing was for sure: it never felt as if she was adopted. Hailey took to her instantly. She loved her with all her little heart and took care of her just like big sisters do. She gave her lots of hugs and kisses.
Jeana really loved to be held. She needed the closeness that every baby needs, especially since she hadn’t received it while she was in the womb. Every day for seven weeks, I put Jeana in a front pack where she could snuggle into me. She spent most of her time in it. She loved every second of our mommy-daughter snuggle time, and of course I did too. I washed dishes, cooked, did laundry—you name it, Jeana was with me. I nicknamed her “Roo” because she was like my little kangaroo. These moment and hours with Jeana were beyond precious to me. I stored them up in my heart and treasured them. As we bonded, I could tell that Jeana made progress and regained some of what was lost for her in the beginning.
Jeana and her daddy had a special relationship from the beginning. When he came in the door from work, she wanted him to hold her. She was a daddy’s girl. Her peaceful smile and coo as she gazed into her daddy’s eyes let everyone know that she knew she was a cherished and loved little girl.
Jeana’s dedication day had arrived. It was August, 23rd as we headed to the church where we would be met by family and friends. It was awesome to see how many people came to be a part of this very special occasion. We were so excited to dedicate our sweet Jeana to Jesus, to vow to love her well and raise her in a Godly home and teach her about Jesus and how much He loves her. What a privileged and honor it was to hold our baby girl. She was our daughter, God’s precious gift to our family. My heart was filled up to the brim. God is good. We are blessed. The bible verse that we used in Jeana’s dedication was from Jeremiah 29:11 NIV “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Following the dedication, we invited our family to come back to our house for a celebration. This marked a very important day in Jeana’s life. Our biggest desire is that one day she would come to know Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him.
What a wonderful summer this was turning out to be. God had blessed us in such big ways and our little family of four felt complete. My heart was so happy it could have burst with joy! Aaron and I could have just sat for hours and watch our two precious daughters as they exchanged smiles and sweet little noises. They were best buddies from the start. It was going to be so much fun to watch them grow up together and to share life’s most treasured moments.
On August 29th we were overjoyed as we prepared for my little brother’s wedding. Hailey looked so beautiful in her long, white flower girl dress as she slowly walked down the isle and tossed red and white petals on the ground. Jeana, looked like a precious baby doll in her lovely little dress. My eyes were filled with tears as I stood beside the rest of the bridesmaids and watched my brother say his vows to his lovely bride. When the ceremony was over, we took family pictures. Aaron and I stood there holding our two precious daughter’s, Hailey and Jeana. These would be pictures that we would cherish forever. This day marked a day when we not only got to enjoy being a little family, but also celebrate all the family we gained from this beautiful wedding. Family is indeed, one of God’s most precious gifts to us.
One evening, after the day was done, I rocked Jeana to sleep. As I held her close, I gazed down at her and tears filled my eyes. She is amazing. I am her mommy. This was a moment when time seemed to stand still – I was one blessed little mommy. This moment would be one that I held in my heart forever.
We went on a family vacation to the mountains with some of our best friends. We were excited to get away and celebrate being a family. And the next morning the phone call came – the one that changed everything….
“She changed her mind and wants her back.” I sat there holding my sweet baby girl close to me as those words pierced my heart. The birth mom changed her mind and I was going to lose my baby and there was nothing that I could do about it.
At that moment, the worst pain I had every experienced took over. I have never in my life felt that angry and out of control. I knew I was helpless; utterly hopeless. I wanted to scream. And that is exactly what I did. Handing Jeana to her daddy, I went off and let it all out. Believe me when I say that it just kept coming At that moment, it seemed as if the entire world was not large enough to contain the pain bursting from my mommy heart.
I fell to my knees with nothing left. I could only cry out to God and ask Him to hold me. The pain was so great. When I was finally able to get up and catch my breath, I called my mom and cried some more as unbearable pain washed over me. I knew at that very moment that this was going to be a time when God would carry me. There was no other way I could get through this.
In a daze, Aaron and I gathered all of our things. We were numb as we packed up the van and headed down the mountain from what we had intended to be a celebration that we were a family. When we arrived home, my mom and dad were there to meet us. We had asked them to come and pray with us, to help us as we prepared to give her back. I couldn’t keep from sobbing, holding her, and praying desperately the whole time. I loved her so much! Even though I had not given birth to Jeana, she was just as much mine as the baby I had birthed. It felt no different to me. It was not different. Yet, here I was, packing her things and preparing to give her back to a woman who
freely gave her up. I sobbed as I packed Jeana’s bottles, formula and some clothes and blankets. My heart broke as I packed the stuffed animal that her big sister, Hailey, had gotten her.
The dreaded time came for us to tell two-year-old Hailey what was going on. Aaron and I knelt down by her, looked into her big blue eyes and said, “Honey, this is not easy to talk about. But Jeana has to leave. She won’t be living here anymore. We will always love her. She doesn’t want to leave, but she has to. Her other mommy changed her mind and wants her back.”
With tears in her eyes Hailey leaned over and said, “I will always love you, Sister. You have to leave but we don’t want you to, and I know that you don’t want to either. But you have to. I will miss you.” And she kissed her sister’s cheek.
I tried to hold it together. Man, I tried so hard. But I lost it. Having to watch my sweet girl say goodbye to her sister was like having my worst nightmare come true right before my eyes. And the worst part was that I couldn’t stop it from hurting either one of them. No matter what I did, my girls were going to feel this, and it was going to hurt. Hurt me, but don’t hurt my children.
We started gathering everything together because it was time for us to take her back. Hailey cried hard as we put her little sister in her car seat. My mom, Hailey’s Nana, scooped her up and held her close. Everyone was trying to be brave for Hailey, but the pain was too great to hide. As Aaron and I got into the car and drove away, we sat in silence. Every once in awhile one of us would say, “ I can’t believe this is happening.” It was beyond awful.
As we pulled up to the adoption agency, I was certain my heart would stop beating. We took Jeana out of her car seat and headed inside. The case worker talked to us as we sat and held our sweet baby and we waited for Liz to arrive. When she arrived, I held Jeana closer then ever and sobbed my heart out. This was going to be the last time that I held her. I couldn’t bear to let her go.
Jeana started to cry because I was crying so hard—she had always been so in tune with me. I handed her to her daddy, went over to Liz, hugged her and told her I loved her. And I did. I loved her, but I hated what she was doing. In no way did it seem like the right decision to me. Aaron handed our sweet baby Jeana back, and we started to leave. I turned around for one more glimpse of her, and my heart broke in pieces. We were leaving our baby behind.
And that began the hardest journey I have ever gone on…. am still going on. I sought counseling which was such a painful journey to go through but a helpful part of my healing and growth. At times I lost myself in the pain and it was there that I discovered a deeper hope found in God. I saw God in ways I had never seen Him before. There were times I doubted His plan but I just kept trudging along, longing for another glimpse of hope. Our story is about a journey that led to hope even though I never got my daughter back. A journey where God carried me. I have grown a lot – I look at life so differently. The journey, in the end, was worth every step I took and every step I am taking.