Hi there Craig. Thanks for your willingness to share on the TFI blog.
Let’s start out by telling us a bit about your family.
My wife Ashley and I met in 2001 at the beginning of our freshmen year at Messiah College. She is the oldest of 7 children, 4 of which were ‘foster to adopt.’ I was the middle of three children. We were married right after graduating in June of 2005. Addison, our oldest daughter was born in May of 2008. Our second daughter was born in December of 2009. Our happy family of 4 was cruising right along. My wife spoke often of fostering and adoption. And of course I was agreeable to that idea. In fact, I was so agreeable that I threw every play in the book at her as to why it didn’t suit right now, but one day down the road we could. Little did she know just how long of a road that I had in mind. In fact it was one of those “roads to nowhere,” you know the kind of road that never ends.
You mentioned you didn’t always see yourself involved in Foster Care and Adoption? What prompted this change in your life. Share some of your doubts and/or fears and how did you work through them?
Personally, I never expected to be a foster parent yet alone an adoptive parent. As I mentioned earlier, my wife has always expressed a desire to adopt. But as for me, I delicately dismissed her passion while daydreaming about how easy life was going to be with our two beautiful daughters who were relatively easy babies and toddlers. “Yeah, maybe down the road.” I’m pretty sure that become my coined phrase. Well then it happened. God spoke. And when God spoke it wasn’t one of those times that he leaves little bread crumbs and you are left wondering, “was that God trying to tell me something?” No, this was a bit more clear than bread crumbs. It was like a heavenly 2×4 square in the forehead. Thanks God. I need that some times. God’s perfect revelation was shown to me over the course of just a few days. The seed was planted at a men’s church group that I had been attending. We were reading a book by John Eldridge called Wild at Heart. This particular week we were talking about what fears we had in life. The men were going around the room sharing their various fears. Meanwhile, I am sitting and thinking to myself, “Am I scared of anything?” Do I have any fears?” As my turn was rapidly approaching, I realized I was coming up empty handed. So I said, “I don’t think that I’m really scared of anything.” Apparently I was wrong. That following Saturday I was driving to a softball tournament. I was listening to the radio blasting as I often do to get pumped up for a full day of competition on the field. A commercial came on. Normally, I tune out or change the station but this time it was different. This time it was a message for me. A commercial that was so timely it was almost as if God was the one who pushed the PLAY button in at the studio. This was a commercial for either Bethany or Bethanna. I can’t even remember and it doesn’t really matter. In that moment as I’m listening to this commercial, backwards hat, baseball uniform, cleats, tough guy attitude and juices flowing, God captured my heart and as if that wasn’t enough, he squeezed it. I began to cry hysterically. And if you know me, you would know that this is completely out of character. Meanwhile, I’m driving to this tournament, crying hysterically and then simultaneously I began to laugh hysterically. In that moment God not only revealed my fears to me He also conquered them. God said, “Craig, you do have fears. You are afraid of adoption. You are afraid what that child will look like. You are afraid what they will act like. You are afraid what color skin they will have and if they will look like you and fit in with your family. You are afraid of what people might think. You are afraid you won’t have enough time, or money, or resources to invest.” And that is why in the midst of this breakdown of tears I was laughing. God has a sense of humor. Just a few days ago I was telling me church buddies, “I’m not afraid of anything.” And so started our journey of adopting a child.
Did you enjoy the training? Did you feel like you learned the skills you needed to parent children adopted through the Foster Care system?
I can’t say that I necessarily enjoyed the training but what guy enjoys any kind of training? The training was lecture style. It was very informative of the logistics from “do’s and dont’s” as parents to what to expect. It is merely a guideline. There is only so much preparation someone can give you to become a foster/adoptive parent. Much of it is leaning on your faith in the Lord, acknowledging His call, and trusting in what His Word says about how He will not give you more than you can handle.
I’ve heard it said that in Foster Care and Adoption, “Women are the gas and men are the brakes.” Have you found this to be true in your life and others? How would you encourage other men to seek God in this area?
Absolutely woman are the gas! I was the brakes for a good 7 years of our marriage. I slammed the brakes so hard over the years I wore out the pads. But I believe the Lord has a plan for each of us. And if you are seeking His face and His will for your life He will give you not only clarity for your life but the power that you need as man to fire on all cylinders. Now we are talking some Tim the Tool Man Taylor stuff: Power, Acceleration, Leadership, Control. I encourage you as men, to seek God’s will for your life. Ask him daily. Take the leadership role in your marriage. You know, wear the pants! Pray behind closed doors. Pray with your wife. Ask God what you need to ask Him. Ask Him: “If? When? Who? Where? Why and What.” Lay it all out there. The Bible says seek me with your whole heart and you will find me. Be a seeker not a sleeper. Be a doer not a doubter. Be a man in control not a man in self-centered coma. Don’t back down from this challenge. James 1:27, “Pure religion before God is to look after orphans…” Are you a man of the Word or a man of the world? I was once a man of the world regarding adoption. I remember thinking to myself, “We have two beautiful girls, let’s quit while we are ahead.” I also remember thinking how much easier life would be if we stopped at two children. That’s a 1:1 ratio. Sounds easy enough. I had thoughts about cost of living with just two kids, vacations we could take, colleges and weddings that we would have to pay for. STOP. Matthew tells us not to worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. And you know what, that dude was on to something. Once you let go and let God you will see those self-centered and worldly fears/doubts crumble at the foot of the cross. Do you have chills yet? You should! You know why men? Because God is speaking to you. God is stirring something in your heart. He is calling you as a man to fulfill what he predestined for you. So put on your armor of God, your shinguards, a mouth guard, a helmet because it’s not going to be easy following His call. Satan will attack you along the way and when he does he will fail because you are on a mission. A Holy mission. One instilled inside of you by God himself. So my last words of advice (and this isn’t for just the dads), seek out support. Get a team of prayer warriors on your side. Network with other couples who have fostered and/or adopted. Use the resources provided to you by agencies, etc. Don’t be afraid or ashamed or proud to ask for help. YOU ARE GOING TO NEED IT!
What is one thing you were most surprised by in Foster Care?
The one thing that surprised me the most by Foster Care is the need. The need for foster and adoptive parents. There are so many children at all ages, races, etc. I challenge you to follow the call of James 1:27 and jump in and be a part of this crazy, awesome, terrifying, rewarding journey of fostering to adopt. Give me three words that describe being a Foster Parent/Family to you. Fostering/Adoption in 3 words for me: Challenging, Fulfilling, Blessing. But you know what? As much as adoption is a challenge, it is as much of a blessing and not just to the child but to you.
Wow! Thank you Craig for this interview and your message. Your passion and desire to serve shine in your story and I am excited to see where God takes you and your family in the future. I am grateful to God for you and Ashley and your heart to serve with TFI Lancaster. It is my joy to work with you both!