|"Our sweet Lily."|
1. How and why did you start fostering?
Well one night we got a text from a good friend of ours explaining how there was an orphan in our city that needed a home. So we hadn’t really planned on doing it as much as found ourselves just responding to a need around us. I came across a quote recently that has been very impactful “Availability is rarer than ability” we aren’t anything special, but we have made ourselves available to serve and love others. I love that our Father uses us to be His hands and feet in this world to others.
2. How have you experienced God through your fostering experience? Both good and bad!
One way we’ve experienced Him is in our need for Him. I remember the second night we had Lily in our house and my wife and I laid all the kids down to bed. We made our way to the couch where we collapsed like cheap folding chairs. Both of us expressed how we felt overwhelmed and in that moment we realized our need to turn to Him even for the simple things. Not just the miracles. With Sammie and Ellie we’ve had a lot of these moments.
We have seen a bunch of people reach out to us and love us. Literally wrapping their arms around us to love us and encourage us in this time. It has been a good reminder that we are the Body of Christ, not just alone trying to do His work.
3. How did you feel when you first met your child?
This is a tough question for me to answer, because when people adopt, they know they will care for that child for the rest of their lives. With Lily we didn’t know how long we would care for her. So I don’t think I had the typical feelings people will express when they first meet their adopted child. But, as time has gone by the bond has been made strong. Today I don’t look at Lily any different than I do our biological children. But that has only come through time and pushing through difficult times.
4. What was the first night/24 hours like?
Exciting and overwhelming. Exciting because our lives took a huge turn in an unexpected direction, which is one of the foundations for any adventure story. I would say overwhelming for the same reason. It was new and we had no idea what to expect because we had no experience in fostering an orphan. (Or how to care for someone who’s HIV+.)
5. How has this affected your children already living at home/ faith/marriage?
I think the best way it’s impacted my marriage is it has given us a purpose that we both share. We’re in this adventure together, side-by-side and that’s exciting. Of course, it’s tough in regard to more kids equaling more responsibilities, but it just means we need to be more intentional about spending time together.
For our kids it’s been amazing. I want them to grow up knowing the importance of helping others. Showing them that and not just telling them that is powerful. Seeing our kids play together and love each other is such an amazing thing. I hope that my wife and I continue to pass on the legacy of helping orphans to our children.
In regards to our faith, fostering these children has really pushed us in ways our comfortable life wouldn’t have. I need God more than ever, even in the most basic ways, and that is directly because of the work we are doing.
6. What is the best thing?
Knowing that my wife and I are making a real difference in someone’s life is one of the best things. And that the difference will last longer than our lives.
7. What is the worst?
The sacrifice of comfort and time is the hardest thing. There is no vacation from parenting or fostering (Maybe I should re-read this.) Every day my wife and I wake up we need to give ourselves completely to the children we are raising.
8. What advice would you give that you wish was given to you?
Don’t have expectations of what emotions you ‘should be’ feeling. People who adopt have incredible first encounters with their forever adoptive children, but it’s not always the case when you’re fostering. Emotions and feelings can’t be our guide for what we do and if we’re doing the right thing. If you make someone else’s experience your expectation it can set you up for heartache.
It will get better. The first six months were the hardest for us, knowing that has helped us with our adjustment and expectations with taking in Sammie and Ellie.
9. What were reactions of friends, family, Chinese people?
Most people were SUPER supportive of us doing this and saw the value in it. Some people were concerned about the HIV aspect of it and if it would be dangerous to the rest of our family. That has all changed since getting our first foster child. To be honest, not many Chinese people know that our foster children are HIV+ and one of the only ones that did stopped working for us. It was tough to feel that rejection, but I can’t imagine the rejection these kids feel and have felt. Even the smallest taste of rejection has been tough.
10. Specific problems you had?
Night terrors were a difficult part of our first few months. Not knowing how to handle them and just feeling worried for Lily. With Sammie and Ellie we really didn’t have that issue. Speaking a lot of Chinese is draining. With all our foster children we’ve needed to speak primarily in Chinese and that is exhausting. Kids pick up languages quick though, but it takes a little while for them to adjust.
When we took in Ellie and Sammie that put us at six kids and that just makes things tough. And now that Heather’s pregnant that can make it pretty draining. There are times where multiple kids are crying/needing something and that can be difficult.
Are there any questions you have for me about fostering?