"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
I'm Toni, mother of MANY, and a grateful member of this church family.
I've known I wanted to adopt since I was a child. As the oldest of five children, I've always been very nurturing and I've always had a big heart for children. I just always imagined I would adopt "when I'm 40, and my biological kids are grown." I'm not sure where those details came from, but that's what the game plan was ever since I was in elementary school.
After I had my first child, Truman, God started asking, "Why then? Why not now?" I hadn't ever really considered that before, but I kept that idea at the back of my mind. When I had my second child, Atticus, I found myself telling my husband that "unless we were going to adopt, I was done having kids." Um, what? What was I saying? WHO AM I? I loved kids and loved being pregnant and loved being a mom, but I just felt a certainty within myself that having more babies biologically wasn't in our near future. God was definitely present in that moment.
The idea of "why not now?" was still in the back of my mind, and when Atticus was about 18 months old, I knew it was time. I discussed it with my husband, and we agreed that it was time to start the adoption process. It was time to move from “me and mine” to serving and loving the “many.” The next day I called a local foster/adoption agency and asked a ton of questions. I remember hanging up the phone with peace and a growing excitement for what this would mean for our family of four.
We started the licensing process shortly after that initial phone call. It felt nice crossing things off the ever-growing to-do list, because with every item we crossed off it meant we were one step closer to finding our kids. One major decision we had to make was, How many kids could we handle? This one I had to really think about. Could I handle one? Of course. Two kids? Sure! What about three kids? I did my best to picture our lives with three additional kids, the ups, the downs...yup, we could handle three additional kids. Okay, but what about four? Hmm. NOPE. Envisioning four additional kids seemed beyond our threshold at that point in time. But it did feel good to really sit down and think about what we could handle because oftentimes, in the midst of our fears and doubts, we forget how tough we really are. Especially with God on our side!
We were officially licensed as an adoptive home in December 2012, were matched with our daughters and son in September 2013, and they came home to us December 2013. We finalized our adoption and made them forever ours in June 2014. Did the transition home and after adoption go perfectly smooth? Absolutely not. Travis and I were definitely in the trenches, feeling very alone with some of our thoughts and emotions. Sure, we had a great support network of family and friends, but we needed the VILLAGE. We made the jump from two to five kids basically overnight. It would have been greatly beneficial (to our sanity!) to have had members of our church family or neighbors certified as babysitters, because ALL parents need a break once in a while.
So maybe you have already asked yourself, "How many kids could I handle right now?" and the answer is ZERO. That's absolutely fine! Fostering or adopting are not the only ways to serve the many fatherless. You may want to become certified as a babysitter for foster families, or help with more long-term care, or simply be a support to foster families.
Sunday, March 10 at 4:30 there will be a one-hour “Discovery Information Night” gathering hosted at the church by Starry. This is an excellent first step in learning how to support foster families and how to love the many in our community. I hope that through this Compassion focus at church you are praying where God may have you serve and share His love with others. You can register for childcare for the Discovery Night here.