A lot times when the topic of adoption or foster care comes up I get a lot of comments like-"what? I thought she was your *real* daughter! Or I always thought you were their *real* mom!" To which I reply - “they are & I am." Usually they think I do not understand what they're trying to say, so they go on -"no I mean like I thought she was your own daughter-like you had her!" The word they're looking for is ‘biological’. Here's the thing-I don't mind you telling me that our daughter looks like my husband and me! I actually enjoy it! I don't even mind if you ask if they were adopted. Hey, you can even talk to her about it and she'll proudly tell you that she's adopted and chosen! And I'll chime right in and share with you about foster care & adoption-I always love an opportunity to talk about the need for good foster families! But what I don't like is asking if she is my *real* daughter.
Terminology matters. Certain terms and phrases support stigmas about adoption that we are fighting against. One thing I refuse to let anyone place on my children or any child is the idea of "less than." And the words of a stranger, a family member, or a loved one (no matter how well intended) can damage, hurt, and cause a child to question their placement and value in their family. The words that we don’t give much thought can hold a lot of power. What many don’t realize is that when we say things like “can you not have your own children?” we are insinuating that the children that we have are not a part of us, that they are secondary, plan B, a good choice but most definitely not the first. Oh-how untrue that is!
You see-My children are just as much ‘my own’ as the children you have birthed are to you. We love them just as much as you love your biological children & we fight for what's best for them just as you would yours, their pain is our pain, & their happiness is our light. And trust me when I say I'm their real mom. I was really there when they were teething & pushing boundaries, I was really there for the shots, blood draws, ultrasounds, and hospital stays. I was really there as they wobbly took their first steps. I was really sleep deprived as I rocked and prayed over them. I really battled through the curve balls that the system threw our way. I was really the one who fought for their safety and right to permanency. I really had to learn how to navigate relationships with birth family, I really had workers in my house monthly, I really prayed, begged, and wept for MY children. I really am the one who is there every moment of every day. It doesn’t get much more real than that.
No, my love for my children is not altered because they didn’t come from my body. When my daughter excitedly calls me to come see one of her many creations she doesn't call “Adoptive mama!” She calls ‘Mama’. When my son runs to me in tears because he fell he doesn’t yell “non-biological mother!” he cries for ‘Mama.’ When I look at my babies I don’t see children I could love more if they were flesh of my flesh. I see my heart outside of my body. Blessings that make my heart swell every time I look at them. I see God’s love, protection, grace, redemption, and I see His mindfulness. I see my children. My very real children. My own children. Period.
I beg you-Educate yourself. Let’s make sure that our speech is one that celebrates and acknowledges adoption in an accurate way. Remember your words have the power to perpetuate the dated and wrong assumptions that adoption is something that is shameful, to be kept secret, and inferior. As adopted children of the King it would do us good to remember that the Lord Himself placed adoption in high esteem-may our words reflect that.
~ Shelby Doss
Hi Jenna, We’re all thrilled for the new addition to your family! So first of all congrats! Today I have a few questions for you and your husband so that our followers & contributors can get to know you better. Let’s get started!
People are brought to adoption for various different reasons, what led you and your husband to adopt?
“We have suffered nearly a decade of trying to grow our family including 6 miscarriages. However our desire to adopt happened long before we struggled with pregnancy loss, long before we had our most precious daughter, Ainsley. It was something we always wanted to do when we were older and had several biological children. But it appears God may have other plans for us. Adoption isn’t just about expanding our family and allowing Ainsley to become a big sister. As Christians, we are adopted children of God. Adoption to us, is about raising a child who wouldn’t have necessarily had the opportunity to be raised in a strong Christian household. It’s about bringing another soul to Christ and expanding our Christian family.”
Just like every birth story is different every adoption story is unique as well. Can you share a little bit about your journey with us & of course we all want to hear about your sweet new bundle!
“We first heard about our sweet girl on August 2nd. She was 2 weeks old and needed a family as soon as possible as she was being discharged from the hospital the next day. After seeing her beautiful picture and talking with the birth mom on the phone, we knew was wanted this sweet girl in our family. As soon as we got word we had been matched we booked a flight to California. On the evening of August 3rd we got to meet the soon to be newest member of our family. We had to pick her up from the birth mother's home as the hospital had already discharged her from the hospital. They didn't want to wait on our 4 hour delayed flight to come in. Even though we were nervous and uneasy about interacting that closely with the birth mother, we decided it was the best option. As we entered the home, the first thing the birth mother said to Jenna was "Here, come meet your daughter." As we continued to talk with the birth family, it was clear this was a perfect match.
Adding a new member to the family always shifts the dynamics of the home. How’s your biological daughter received her little sister?
“Ainsley loves being a big sister. Her face lights up whenever Annaleigh does anything cute, which is almost all the time. We love getting to see Ainsley grow and shine in her new role.”
I know for me personally adoption has opened my eyes to a whole new world. How about you?
“Has adoption changed your perseption of the world or the dynamics of your faith? We see God's love, mercy, patience, and timing when we look at our sweet Annaleigh. We have prayed and prayed for our family to grow in His timing and in His way so it's very humbling knowing He chose this sweet, very happy baby to be ours.”
How’s fundraising going? What else is needed to have all of the costs incurred covered? And what is the timeline for receiving the needed funds.
“We have made some progress with our fundraising efforts. We were approved for an interest free loan, did a t-shirt fundraiser, and a go-fund-me fundraiser. We have gotten the balance from $19,000 to $6,000.”
What’s the one thing you would tell people who have a desire to adopt?
“I would tell those who desire to adopt to be patient. God's timing is perfect.”
What are two words that you think best describe this whole experience?
“Blessing & Humbling.”
What is something you want the whole world but especially the Lord’s church to know about adoption?
“Adoption is a blessing and a wonderful way to grow your family and the Church.”
Thanks so much for chatting with me today Jenna & sharing your family’s special journey.
~ Shelby Doss
AHFJ Board Member
Editors Note: I read the post below on FaceBook and the author, Moriah McCrary, was gracious enough to allow me to post it here on our blog. One might read this and wonder why a foundation who is concerned with adoption would be concerned with fostering. Our foster system is so broken. Just ask anyone who has had any dealings with the system. Children need a loving home. Period. So, whether it is through adoption or through a broken foster system, they still need a loving home. A home where they can learn about God's love, about Jesus' sacrafice for them and how to live a life worth living. A home that will teach them what love looks like between a mother and father. Unconditional love is not something we understand or learn without it being shown to us. Open your heart. Open your home...just like the McCrary's. ~Robin
Y’all let’s be honest, foster care is HARD!!! Let me say that again.... foster. care. is. HARD!!!!! If you have ever been a foster parent you know exactly what I mean.
This precious baby right here, I love to pieces! He has the sweetest little spirit and the most adorable dimples and cutest little Puerto Rican curls!!!
But what you don’t see, is the 4 weeks that we had to over come his terrible biting habits.
What you don’t see is the tears in his mother’s eyes when I have to take him back home from his visits with her.
What you don’t see, is the sleepless nights he, Josh, and I get from the very first day he came into our home.
What you don’t see, is the worry, fear, and tears Josh and I share for this baby when he does go back into his mother’s care.
What you don’t see, is the love my biological children have for him and how they beg for us to “keep him”.
What you don’t see, is him coming into our home and only knowing one word and is helpless when it comes to communicating.
What you don’t see, is us training him every night to pray to God for his mommy.
What you DO see...
Is a foster dad who loves enough to be selfless and take this child in like his own. No matter all the obstacles we face helping this baby heal, somehow we just keep pushing through. I know there are days that God literally carries our entire family through. This little boy has came into our lives and we have given him our hearts and one day he will leave us and it will break our hearts. But, we just have to remind ourselves daily... foster care-isn’t about us. It’s about him and every other child who enters our home.
So if you’ve ever considered foster care, my momma heart says DO it!!! But be ready for some of the hardest work and broken hearts you’ll ever face!
#fostercare #changingthefuture #memories #fosterdad
After months of preparing our home, stocking supplies, filling countless pages of paperwork, welcoming strangers into our home, delving into very personal parts of our life, a month worth of training, and lots of prayers, we finally received an email that read ‘you’re on the list.’ Now we waited and prayed some more.
About four weeks after we became licensed foster parents we received a phone call while we were at church camp. There was a little girl only 6 months old in need of a home. That’s all we needed to hear. The next day we drove home and met our daughter. Just like that, we became a family. The next year was filled with doctor’s visits, x-rays, court hearings, social worker visits, and filling out form after form. We were thrilled with the highs of little victories that were slowly guiding us forward to what we wanted so desperately but also had to grapple with the fact that something horrible had happened in order for us to be together. Someone had failed. Failed so miserably that a child, a baby, who had spent more time in the womb than out, was left alone and unprotected. But she’s not alone—there are thousands of children that share a similar story.
We live in a very small town but during the first year of fostering, we had 9 different children in our home. This is not counting placements that we had to turn away due to space or other circumstances beyond our control. There are over 397,122 children in foster care across the United States. Each week there are nearly 60,000 children who are being abused or neglected. These are children. Innocent and helpless children. Who, with the proper love and guidance, cannot only become productive citizens but also be introduced to the lifesaving Gospel.
So where is the church in all of this? There is without a doubt a need that must be filled by someone. As Christians, we speak a lot about abortion and the absolute horror of murdering an innocent gift from the Lord—as we should. We should raise our voices and cry out for justice for those who can’t. But, sometimes we forget about those same precious children once they have arrived safely. They’re here, but not all are protected. What now? We should be crying out just as loud for these children. The children that don’t have a voice, don’t have a home, don’t have safety. The children that need something so basic as the human touch and compassion. There is a desperate need for someone to stand in the gap. James 1:27 very plainly teaches who those individuals need to be: Christians. We are to care for those who have no one. James specifically mentions two groups: the fatherless and widows.
Again, where is the Church? What can we do? I understand that not everyone can become a foster parent/adoptive parent but, there are many who can and I strongly encourage you to honestly consider making this commitment. You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be willing. But of course, there are
other things the church can do to stand alongside those who are ‘in the trenches’.
First, pray. Pray hard for these families who are navigating through the foster care system. Pray for the biological families, that they can be reached and introduced to the Gospel. Become a licensed respite provider. A respite provider is someone that is certified to care for foster children in case the foster parents
have to take an unexpected trip and the children cannot go. Or if there is a medical emergency and the family needs the children to be cared for. As foster parents, you cannot have just anyone babysit. Maybe you have foster families at your local congregation. If so, offer to make them dinner or drop off a gift card when they receive a new placement. As you can imagine the most hectic and exciting time is when you get a call and 30 minutes later you have a frightened child sitting in your living room. As foster parents, our main focus is on gaining their trust and making them feel safe. Often times the routine tasks become stressful during those first few days and having someone simply bring dinner is a huge blessing.
There is definitely a need. A need for the church to extend it’s hand and help, not only these children but also their families. Reaching out to these kids also means reaching out to their parents. Helping them escape the hold that Satan has on them. In almost every case, sin has played a part. Extend the love that Christ showed us when we were drowning in sin, show them the abundant life. It very likely could save their life.
Shelby Doss is the most recent addition to our board of directors. We are thrilled that she has desired to be a part of our mission at A Home for Jolee Foundation. She will be a valuable resource to fostering and adoptions. If you would be interested in contacting Shelby regarding further information on fostering,
adoption, or their story, please feel free to email her at: email@example.com. Also, please visit her blog at www.raisingmyarrowsblog.wordpress.com