When I was 17, I told my mom I didn’t understand why she did foster care, why she kept allowing kids in our home who seemingly took advantage of us. She took a deep breath and graciously replied to my worn-out complaint, “This life isn’t just about ourselves, Cherie. If we don’t, who will?”
I scoffed then.
Ten years later, I found myself wiping silent tears at a new foster parent training. I was finally understanding what my mom and dad had told me all along: God’s love is for all of us, and it reaches into brokenness and pain. We get to choose to partner in that great love.
Our Call to Adoption
My husband and I had felt the call toward adoption for months, but dragged our feet in indecision. “What kind of adoption? How old? From where?”
We already had a blended family of four boys, and we worried what another disruption might do. We prayed and waited for God’s answer.
Halfway through my second year of teaching, I bonded with a student who often gave trouble to other teachers, but never to me. I found out she was in foster care, and it became clear to me in a heartbeat – we were being called to foster care. I’ll never forget the sense of urgency I felt; I think we got licensed in record time!
Though we never hoped a biological family would lose their child, we also knew that was an unfortunate reality for some. Either way, we would stand in the heavy place between or, if necessary, the forever after.
Many people want to foster/adopt infants and toddlers. Though there is nothing wrong with that, I personally knew that many older children wait for forever families and never get one. They are often misunderstood or left behind, and yet each child and teen is deserving of someone to say, “You belong. You are precious. You are not disqualified from anything in this life. You are worthy.”
We considered our biological sons’ ages at the time, and agreed to take any foster youth ages 0-13. Because of this, we have gotten to love various foster youth who lived with us anywhere from two months to forever.
As I type this, our 14-year-old son is hanging out in his bedroom across the hallway. He just threw in a load of laundry and is mentally preparing himself for Monday. By seventh grade, he had been to seven schools. Since he moved in with us in July 2019 (adopted December 18, 2019!), he’s been in the same school for two school years. He made the honor roll, and he is a three-season athlete. He has a teacher who sees the best in him and makes him rise to the occasion, as well as mentors who speak life to him around every corner.
Our soon-to-be-official (waiting on the adoption date!) 8-year-old daughter is sound asleep in her bedroom that she has turned into pure magic with her creativity (think: mermaids, bright colors, a nightlight that projects stars on the ceiling, and the best Barbie setup you’ve ever seen). She lived with us from ages three to four, and then went on a roundabout journey to come back to our arms right around her seventh birthday. It is our honor to hold forever with her, to hold her forever.
Is it always easy? No, it’s not. But if we won’t, who will? Plus, we can no longer imagine our world without them in it - we wouldn’t even want that world. We are the blessed ones. Truly.
This blog article was contributed by Cherie Johnson, a Foster/Adoptive Parent for Nexus-Kindred Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.