Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Our Adoption Testimony

**We are applying for a grant and the organization has asked us for our adoption testimony. Here is what I wrote: 

Our Adoption Testimony
                Our journey with growing our family through adoption started many, many years ago. I, Maile, taught 2nd grade in the public school system for 4 years. During my years as a teacher, I got to see all kinds of families and fall in love with all kinds of kids. I’ve always loved kids and this is true for my husband as well. My first year of teaching a little boy named Zachary was placed in my classroom. He was a foster child and had been through horrific, horrific abuse. Zachary became my favorite human that year. I begged my husband every day to let us adopt Zachary. I called his CPS worker, I learned about him through his foster mom, and I prayed over him daily while he was in my class. I was 22 years old, had never parented, and certainly had no experience with a traumatized child. My efforts to “adopt” him never worked out. However, I learned a lot from that experience. It opened my eyes to the world of foster care and adoption.
                Fast forward four years to when I gave birth to my first child. I had loved hundreds of children, but none like him. I loved him so much that I quit my teaching job and decided to stay home with him full time. During that time I got to see that life at home with children was exactly the life God had created me for. I was good at it. My husband was good at it. I liked it. My husband liked it. So when our son was 1 year old we starting talking about foster care. We liked our home and wanted to share it with others. The problem was we didn’t know any one who did foster care who also had small children at home. The only people we knew who fostered were people whose kids had grown up and moved away or people who for some reason couldn’t have biological children.
                In the spring of 2010, I was invited to an event hosted by Buckner Child and Family Services and while there I met a family who had 3 bio kids ages 3, 5, and 7 and 3 foster kids ages 1, 3, and 4. I know without a doubt that God had me meet this family for a reason because it was right then and there that I knew we could do this. I went home that night, told my husband, called Buckner the next day, and 6 months later I had our first foster baby in my arms.
                We have fostered 4 babies. We have said “hello” to four traumatized babies. We have fed them, rocked them, bathed them, changed them, taken them to countless doctor appointments, worked with them through hundreds of hours of therapies, escorted them to many family visits, sat in on court hearings, scrapbooked life books, filled out thousands of pages of paperwork, and ultimately said good bye to four healthy babies. We loved our babies. We died a little inside when our babies left. But we know, that we know, that we know, that we loved those babies well. Those babies changed us.
                With every foster baby we have hoped to keep them. Sure we’ve supported their bio families. We’ve encouraged them around every turn, but deep in our hearts we wanted to keep them forever. We learned through fostering that we could love any child. Any child.
                In June of 2012, my friend called me and wanted to talk about a boy that she knew. His name was Terrance and he was about to turn 12. Terrance had been in foster care for 2 years and his adoptive placement had just fallen through. She knew of him because on the day he was removed from his home there were four other children removed as well. One of whom she had adopted. Because of that adoption she had kept up with Terrance and his older brother Keishun and had invited them over for every family event: Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, etc. She had spent the last two years getting to know him and was devestated that his adoption wasn’t going to work out. His caseworker had called her to let her know that both he and Keishun would now be available for adoption and would she like to take them both. She already had 4 kids, but decided that yes, they would take Keishun, who was 15. My friend wanted me to help her find a home for Terrance. I quizzed her briefly about him, I had heard her talk about him for years so I knew a little bit already, and I told her that I would draft a letter to our church and see if anyone there would be interested. Once I hung up the phone with her I couldn’t stop thinking about him. The weaknesses that he had were our strengths. The strengths that he had lined up with our values. He seemed like a perfect fit for our family. So I told my husband. And my husband said, “Let’s do it”. One month later, Terrance moved in to our home and changed our lives for the better.
                I had never, ever, ever thought about adopting an older child. Never had it ever crossed my mind. I’m actually glad I had never thought about it because I might would have talked myself out of it. But when I met him for the first time my heart said, “that’s my boy”. He has been my boy for 4 years and for 4 years I have delighted in him. Remember how I said that those foster babies changed me. Well, Terrance has changed me. He changed me so deeply that my husband and I made a commitment to only grow our family through adoption from this day forward. We took surgical efforts to assure this would be so.
                So now it is 2016. We have three sons: 2 bio and 1 adopted. There is a piece to our story that has yet to have been discussed and that is the piece that includes Hannah. Hannah is a child that my husband and I have talked about since before we were even parents. Hannah is an idea. She doesn not yet exist. At least I don’t think so. Hannah has always been our hoped for daughter who has a special need that we are deeply attracted to. The “Hannah” in our minds has Down syndrome. We both love people who have Down syndrome. I don’t know why we love them so much. We don’t have a person in our family with Down syndrome. Neither of us have ever had a close friend that has Down syndrome, but we love people with Down syndrome and because of that we want to raise one. We want a daughter who has Down syndrome. God placed this desire in my heart a decade ago and I have talked about her for as long as I can remember. All of our friends know about our desire for Hannah. We’ve talked about Hannah with everyone we know. We’ve always known that we would have a Hannah “some day” and that “some day” has arrived.
                We are actively seeking to adopt a daughter who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. I have been asking the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His for the past 5 years and my heart is broken for people who abort their babies and for babies who are aborted. We want her because the world says she is not fit to live. In fact, that belief is so strong that over 90% of babies who get the Down syndrome diagnosis get aborted. Let that fact sink in. Over 90% get aborted! They never get their chance at life on earth. And we as a people group never get the chance to know them. The world says people with Down syndrome are a burden, but I believe children are a blessing from the Lord and that the highest calling on my life is to have a quiver full of them. Hannah is worthy of life and I can prove that because God is going to create her. He will knit her together in her mother’s womb and she will be perfect.

                So your question was, “How has God led you to adopt?” and my answer is that He has placed a very specific desire in my heart and I have carried that desire around for 10 years and now my heart is just about to explode with the waiting of that desire to be fulfilled. 

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