As I’ve gotten older, my desire for a husband and a family has not diminished. At all. It has, however, had to morph as I indeed did not get married at 19 and start having kiddos in an effort to somehow catch up to my older brother. (Did I mention I’m actually a Great Aunt now? Yup. My oldest nephew’s oldest munchkin is almost three. There was no chance of catching up.)
Life doesn’t often take shape in the way we expect, does it? As many single women (and I’m sure some men) get older, they realize that they are less and less likely to get the kind of family experience they hoped for in the exact ways they hoped for it. There is a period of grief that starts at different times for different people. For me, it started in my mid-thirties. It was (and is) a period of coming to terms with the fact that life is NOT how I thought it would be and that I have to chose to get comfortable with the way life is.
And that is really hard.
One thing that made it easier for me, though, was that this fostering and/or adopting thing was always in my mind. I didn’t feel this aching need to have a baby. I could go either way because I knew that there was another way of having family that felt important to me. This “calling” had a way of lifting the biological clock pressure that so many women feel.
At some point in this season, I started to think, ”If I turn 40 and I’m still single, THEN I’ll think about fostering kids on my own. But until then it’s not even on my radar.” There were too many questions in my mind to consider that it would happen before that. What if raising kids took me out of the dating market so I wouldn’t ever be able to find a partner to do this with? How would I be able to afford it by myself both in financial and time investments? Was I “adult enough” to handle it on my own?
I don’t know what seemed so magical about the number 40. But with or without my approval, experiences in my life began to set the ball in motion anyway…
In 2011, while working on a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, I met a social worker, a woman in her 60’s, who told me about how she and her husband fostered babies. “I just hold them until they find a long term place for them to say. I don’t care if I spoil them. That’s what they need,” she told me. At the time she and her husband had fostered 26 infants and were currently holding a set of twins.
About a year after that, my dear friends Nate and Raquel White began the foster care certification process, and I watched them walk through the ups and downs of working with the county system to ensure a safe home for their little guy. When I first met their son, I held him and told him in the kind tone we reserve for the tiniest of humans, “Don’t you trigger that baby clock…Don’t you do it.”
About a year after that, all my recently married Los Angeles friends started having babies. And, frankly, I stopped liking babies for a little while. Because, honestly, it hurt. Here were all these people younger than me getting all the things that I had wanted for as long as I could remember, and for whatever his reasons, God was not seeing fit to send any of it my way.
In all this time, I was also going through a LOT of healing work. God was teaching me that I was loved, which I had never truly known. At one point, during the spring or 2013, in a moment when I was really praying about feeling unloved and unwanted in dating relationships, I felt God speak to me and say, “A child will come first”. “Uh…what was that, Lord? I think I misheard you.” I don’t know for sure and still don’t know for sure exactly what that meant. I think, in part, it had to do with healing some of my own childhood wounds. And I think, in part, it means this thing that I’ve been wired to do.
Last fall, I found myself dating a divorced gentleman with three almost teen kids. As it was becoming evident to me that things weren’t going to work out with him, a new nagging thought entered my brain…
This guy was older than me and already had kids who were almost teenagers. My dating pool has changed to contain more men in this category, and I couldn’t imagine for one second that he would be interested in bringing small children into his home.
At the same time, I realized that even if I met a “nice Christian man” who had never been married and didn’t have kids, there would still be no guarantee that that man would partner with me in this either. I’ve met women who would like to foster or adopt who don’t get to pursue that calling because their husbands have said no…or at least no for now. And I’ve gone on dates with several Christian guys who are way less interested in engaging the conversation than their non-Christian counterparts who at least think it’s “really cool that you would want to do that.”
So, if there was no guarantee that my dating pool was going to be open to this, was it worth it to keep putting foster care off for a situation that might never come? What if I found a great guy to be with who wasn’t at all interested? I’d possibly end up having an unrequited cry of my heart that someone else might say no to. I began to feel the need to give up the “when I’m 40” part of my statement.
And then it was November 2013. November is National Adoption Awareness Month. There were banners everywhere as I drove to work. In previous years, I had seen these and thought – yeah, someday. Only now I was driving past them and thinking, “Really God? Now? Is that you? Because I certainly don’t want to do this on my own.”
On November 12, 2013, in the season during which this was stirring, I opened up my Facebook account and at the top of my news feed was a post from a friend who works for a private foster care agency.
Five Acres Foster Care and Adoptions
Every day we receive calls for infants needing homes. Can you help with the current crisis by offering a safe home for a baby? For more information please visit www.fiveacres.org or contact…
Every day in our city. Every day there are new kids of all ages that need a safe home in which to sleep and be fed and be held. According to www.casala.org, “Nowhere in the nation is the problem greater than in Los Angeles County, where 28,000 children who have been abused or neglected are under the jurisdiction of the Dependency Court. One-third of these children are age 0-5; infants and toddlers are the fastest growing group of abused children.” And there are not enough beds to go around. Obviously, there is an especially high need for people who are interested in taking infants and toddlers into their homes. And it turns out, you can foster infants and toddlers even if you only have a one bedroom apartment or house.
In all my imaginings of fostering and adoption, I had always pictured kids 4-6 years old, but here was this need and here was this desire. It seemed like the dominos were in place, and I decided to flick one to see what would happen. It turns out they were about to start tumbling…