Adoption, Foster ParentingJul. 13, 2015

Make a Difference Monday: For This Child I Prayed…

…And so it was that she, having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained what God had promised…

~Hebrews 6:15

Alisha 6

{necklace: The Adopt Shoppe} {photo credit: Real Promises Photography}

My family’s story starts out many, many moons ago; 11,680 to be exact. That’s 32 years’ worth if you are good at quick math. I am not going to go into my adoption story in this post, but the story of how my husband and I were led to adopt our daughters. I was featured as a guest blogger over at “It’s Just Emmy” a few years ago to tell my story, so if you are interested, you can read my adoption story HERE. This post will be specific in mine and my husband’s journey to adoption, not my daughters’ story. That is theirs only to tell.

As you may know, the Dropping Anchors Crew is not just a group of foster moms that blog together. The blog is secondary to our friendship and love. It’s a result of the daily interactions we have with each other. We share in each other’s pain and joy. We laugh with each other. We cry with each other. We fly across the country, or even to other countries, just to see each other! Most importantly, however, we pray together. These women, and many others (one in particular you will be introduced to in this story), share in my adoption story for my daughters.

Growing up I always knew I would adopt. I was given such an amazing set of parents through adoption, I wanted to be that for someone else. As a child, I had everything about my child’s adoption picked out. I wanted a girl. Her name would be Kendall Lee (my Dad’s name is Ken, my mom’s middle name is Lee). She would have a slight disability but it wouldn’t stop her from conquering the world! Did you know that older children and/or children with disabilities have a much lower chance to being adopted? I wasn’t going to let her disability cause her to be “unadoptable.” Like the Dave Thomas Foundation states “Unadoptable is Unacceptable!” She was going to be perfect. My family was going to be perfect.

Flash forward 15-20 years to 2011 when my husband and I decided to start a family. I have never been set on birthing another human. I mean, if my family grew that way, then hooray! But if not, it was no big deal to me. I knew love made a family. I sat down and spoke to my husband more seriously about adoption. He always knew I had plans to adopt but we had never had a true conversation about it. He said he supported me in whatever but I could tell he was hesitant. Like the amazing husband he is, however, he told me to call adoption agencies and hear what they had to say. I did. The first one terrified us! I felt like I was buying a baby off the street! Note: not all private adoption agencies are like this. Don’t stop reading here if you’ve adopted through a private agency. It gets better. I promise! At that point he said, “Let’s just try to have a baby naturally and if it doesn’t work we will adopt.” So, we, well… you can figure out what we did. We got pregnant within 3 months. My first positive test was on Christmas morning! We both had the day off so we celebrated by going on a breakfast date, smiling, laughing, and crying happy tears. It was very hard to keep it from our families but we decided to not tell anyone until later in the pregnancy. Miscarriages happen very frequently and we didn’t want to face the possibility of having to then tell that to our parents. Fast forward 6 months. By this time we had 3 miscarriages and I was over the whole pregnancy thing. But, more than ever, my heart longed to show love to a child, whether it was permanent or just temporary.

Years prior to this, when my husband and I were newlyweds, we babysat a friend’s newborn foster son for a few weeks. It was my first experience with the foster care system. I started thinking back to that and thought “Why can’t we do that? We would love those children like our own. I have heard horror stories about foster homes, but I know we would be a great home for a child.” So, I spoke to my husband about foster care. Once again, he said “Go ahead and call. Find out what we need to do.” This began our foster care journey.

We fostered for two years before our daughters came to live with us. The entire time we were praying we found our “forever family,” in whatever manner that was to come. Our first foster daughter was in school and since we both work we needed after school care for her until we were off work. I am very, um, let’s go with the word “picky” about where my children stay for respite, so we never respited our first foster son or foster daughter, until she began this after school care program. The assistant director was a foster mom. We hit off a friendship and in turn began respiting each other’s children. The girls all thought it was a sleepover at their friend’s house! Most often, however, we only kept the youngest child who was 2 years old. We became very bonded to this sweet, little princess!

One night I prayed just before falling asleep, as usual. I had a dream that night that we had Hispanic children.  I couldn’t remember what they looked like or exactly how many children. I couldn’t shake the feeling that our children were Hispanic, and I dang sure couldn’t get the word children out of my head. We only wanted one child, so why couldn’t I even bring myself to say “child” any longer? After a few days of trying to figure out why I dreamed we had Hispanic children (how strangely specific is that?!), I decided to tell my husband about this, knowing he would really freak out over more than one child! His response was, “Umm… We can have a Hispanic child, but I don’t know about this whole ‘children’ thing!”

Soon after my dream, we visited another private adoption agency and I fell in love. My husband really liked them as well. I was ready to start the private adoption process with them immediately!  As we laid down in bed that night, we began talking about the agency, how the intro meeting was, and what that meant for us. For the first time ever, my husband revealed to me that he too had been praying for our forever family and he had something revealed to him: our child (he wasn’t saying children yet!) was currently in foster care and we needed to find him/her before we pursued any type of private adoption.

Whoa. God had spoken so specifically to my husband as well. How was I to go against that? Our child is currently in state custody??? That can’t happen. We have to find our child(ren)!

My prayer warriors kicked it up a notch, and so did we. We had more specific things to pray about now… finding our child(ren) who were currently in foster care! The more we prayed, the more our hearts were led to our friend’s foster daughters. I gave my prayer warriors this to pray about as well.

Have you ever known anyone who has “a straight line to God”? Well, I have this one friend who does. Her name is Shala. If you ask her to pray for something, you better be prepared for the results. God speaks to her in the purest ways I have ever seen. I gave her the photo below to use to pray, specifically for the oldest child. She immediately sent back what was spoken to her during her prayer:

“This is her daughter that I have made for her. She will bless her and both will be transformed into gems in My Crown. I smile upon their faces with joy. I shall be their rock.”

Alisha 5

This  was the first picture ever taken with my oldest daughter back in 2013, well before we knew anything about her being our daughter.

Now, at that time I kept thinking we were all wrong. Yes, these girls were currently in foster care. Yes, they are Hispanic. Yes, there is more than one of them. Yes, Shala, my husband, and I had all been spoken to, BUT their case plan wasn’t adoption. They were on track for reunification. As much as our hearts said “these are our girls,” our minds said “they can’t be, it’s not even a possibility.” Besides, even if their goal changed to adoption, their foster parents loved them. They would adopt them.

Side note: Don’t tell God “but” or “it’s not possible.” I mean, He moves mountains and He walks on water! Who did I think I was with these negative thoughts?!?

A few weeks passed and we continued praying for our forever family. I received a phone call from the girls’ foster mom. She said the case plan was possibly changing from reunification to adoption in a few months and they had been praying on what that meant for their family. She said she didn’t know why, but they weren’t being led to adopt the girls. They loved them greatly but it didn’t seem like they were supposed to adopt them. That’s when I told her what our hearts already knew.

A couple more days passed. I received a text that only said “Pray” from the girls’ foster mom. She’s still yet to explain that one, but boy did I start praying! I also immediately texted Shala (I mean, straight line to God, you know?) and the Dropping Anchors Crew asking them to pray as well.

Two days later we were keeping our friend’s youngest foster daughter again for the night. She was asleep on my husband’s chest. My phone rang. It was her foster mom. She proceeded to tell me that out of nowhere, very unexpectedly, circumstances had changed and the girls’ plan had changed to adoption that day! With tears in my eyes I turned and told my husband. I immediately snapped the photo below. I never wanted to forget that moment. I won’t ever forget that moment.

Alisha 4

In our state, once a goal plan is changed for foster children, if the current foster home does not want to adopt, the child or children are removed and placed in another foster home immediately. I know this practice is super sketchy. Don’t get me started on that rant. Now, just because you love a child in foster care and you are a foster parent doesn’t mean that if that child leaves their current home that they will move in with you, even if you tell DSS you want to adopt the children. Nothing is that easy you guys! BUT, get this: God made sure our girls would come to us. We were the only home open in the entire county! There was NO ONE else for DSS to even consider in regards to placing our girls into another home. They had to come to us! We had already disclosed our bond and love with the girls to the DSS caseworkers, so when the placement call came in for a 2 and 4 year old sibling set, it was followed by a “oh, and do you want to adopt them, hint hint?!” It was the greatest placement call I have ever received.

On Monday, April 20, 2015, after 1055 days in foster care and 407 days in our home, our girls were officially adopted.  The legal system finally told us what we had known for a very long time.

As you can see, our story is knitted together with prayer, God’s Words, and God’s workings. From what I felt about adoption as a child, to what I felt in my heart about my forever family as an adult, to what my husband felt about our forever children being in foster care, to what my prayer warriors felt about my girls; it was all from God.

Never before has the verse “For this child I prayed” rung more true.

Alisha 3

{photo credit: Real Promises Photography}

 

Alisha 2

{photo credit: Real Promises Photography}

“For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him.”

~1 Samuel 1:27

Alisha Palmer

Alisha 1

{photo credit: Real Promises Photography}

Alisha and her husband have been therapeutic and medical foster parents since 2012. They have opened their home and hearts to many children, all ages from infancy to teens. Alisha was adopted as a child and from that amazing experience of finding her forever family, she wanted to extend the same to another child. Recently, she and her husband adopted their daughters, a sibling set from foster care. She and her husband work in the Behavioral Health field and are large supporters of Trauma Informed Care, which can be extended to many children in the foster care system. To read other posts from Alisha, she can be found blogging at www.DroppingAnchorsBlog.com

 

 

 

 

Comments (2) Leave a Comment

  • Joanna Williams says:
    October 30, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    My name is Joanna. My husband and I are finally 2 weeks away from officially adopting our Garrett. I won’t go into his story, but for 5 years my husband and I have wanted to adopt Garrett as our own but between life and people saying adoption was not for us it has just now occurred. Garrett is 14 and has been in the foster care system since he was 7 years old and hopped from one home to another. I loved reading your blogpost and the family you all have created. I want to become more involved and hope to in the future to adopt more kids through the foster care system. I’d love to get connected with you as well as let you all know and to pass on to your friends the way our family is celebrating the finalized adoption. We are creating “Superman was adopted too” T-shirts through my work. I work at an outpatient facility that specializes in brain injury and young stroke patients and they are donating their time in creating these t-shirts as a patient project! All proceeds are going back to the SC DSS foster care/adoption team that Garrett has been apart of for the last 7 years. Right now my husband and I are focusing all our time and love on Garrett but hope to get more kids in the future, until then I want to help and make awareness for the desperate need these kids need for loving, stable homes. My family was not supportive at first, but after hearing Garrett’s story and me speaking up about the stories I learned in our training classes they show more of my passion and began to understand more. I have noticed since beginning the process of adopting Garrett and hearing about the other kids he was involved in, the lack of awareness and understanding of others is astounding. I would like to help change that!

    • Jillian Kellenberger says:
      November 5, 2015 at 8:37 am

      Hi Joanna, thank you for sharing your heart and just a little bit of your story. Would you like to connect with Alisha, who wrote the blog? Or are you interested in learning more about The Forgotten Initiative?

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