You know how some women grow up daydreaming about one day being a mom? Yeah, that wasn’t me. When James and I were dating and talking marriage I made it very clear that I didn’t want a lot of kids. I have one sibling and both my parents worked, a lot. My husband on the other hand is one of five. His father was self-employed and was always home for dinner, while his mother stayed home and absolutely loved running to all of her five kids softball games in one night. I thought my life would be like my mother’s,
I thought I would become all I have ever known.
In high school I felt the calling to go to college and study to become a youth pastor. I desired to hang out with youth and mentor them. After college I did just that. My husband and I spent our days working in the local schools and our evenings at our local church pastoring the youth. Our days and evenings were filled with youth.
I was struggling with wanting to spend more time with teenagers but between their schooling, extracurricular activities, jobs, and their family life mixed with my full time and part time job, my husband and family, there just wasn’t enough time. I wanted to feel like I was making a difference in their lives. I wanted to walk through life with them.My husband randomly saw a job posting for a Foster Care Agency looking for married couples to come work for them and to live in a home full time with foster kids. The position was called House Parents. The posting explained how these kids need mentored and need guided while being away from their family. Immediately after reading the job posting I was amazed. I was amazed that there was an organization out there that wanted people to do exactly what our hearts longed for. I was sold. The next night we sent in our resume and five days later we traded our car in for an SUV, gave away everything we owned besides our clothing, packed up our car, and drove across country to a state and city we have never been before. It happened so fast that it didn’t really even hit me until we were driving through Kansas. At that point I thought, “too late to turn back now!”
We spent the next two and half months training, learning about the Foster Care system, and how to help these kids through their trauma. If we weren’t training, we were with kids. Hanging out, playing video games, and eating ice cream. I never knew anyone in the Foster Care system before. I did not know of foster homes or group homes. This was an entire new world and the more I got introduced to this world, the more my heart grew. I became so intrigued by all this new lingo. My heart grew heavy and it hurt when I saw the hurt these kids dealt with. We started off spending time with the kids while giving the House Parents their days off. We just loved it. I spent many hours talking to the kids and learning about them, guiding them. Shortly after we started working with the kids in the home we were asked if we wanted to have our own home. Our own six bedroom home filled with kids. Eight kids to be exact. I expressed my desire to have preteen and teenagers only, as I still did not see myself as a little kid person, they understood.
We moved into our own home just shy of three months of our arrival. We had a lot of kids come and go the first week. Most of them only stayed one night before returning home or moving to be with a relative. We got a call from our boss asking to take two siblings; preteen and teen. We excitingly said yes. An hour later we got another call, this time asking us to take an eight-year-old boy. I hesitated. I explained that we desired age twelve and above but the lowest we would go is ten if the majority were teenagers, again explaining I was not a little kid person. My boss, patiently listened, explained he might not stay long because of certain situations within his case and asked me to pray about it. He explained that he felt that this kid needed to be in our home. As soon as I got off the phone I knew this boy needed to be here too.
Before we knew it, our house was filled with eight kids. I had imagined our days being like the days when we watched kids for the House Parents. Playing video games, swimming, and staying up late on the weekends. Quickly we realized that the life of House Parents was much more complex. We were not the fun “Aunt and Uncle” that came to play while the Mom and Dad were gone. Without us realizing, we became the Mom and Dad. We had to deal with their life struggles long term. We had to discipline and become the “mean ones.” This was when everything had changed for me. I stopped seeing myself as a pastor or a mentor. I saw myself in the role I was given while in my care, their mother.
I became a mother the day we agreed to take our own house and become House Parents. I just didn’t realize it.
The girl who said she did not want a lot of kids and who was never going to stay home became a stay at home mom to eight kids overnight. I fell in love. I loved being their mom. I loved being able to speak into their lives in a whole different way. I was living their life with them and loving them in a way I have never known before. As mothers know, being a mom is very rewarding but there are many days where you go to sleep at night feeling like the entire day was spent taking fifteen steps backwards. But it was the love that gets you back up in the morning to start all over again. As my love for these kids grew, I changed. During our time as house parents we became pregnant with our son, Chase. I couldn’t imagine having a small family. I couldn’t imagine working out of the home. I loved my life.
We stayed house parents for a couple of years and over fifty children came in and out of our home. Each child vastly different carrying their own hurts that we as their new parents had to love them through it. James and I had two kids that stayed with us the entire time we were house parents. One of which was that eight-year-old boy. That little boy was not so little anymore and was just as much a part of my life and my family as Chase. Having a child across country from my family was hard and our hearts were pulling us back to our home state. We prayerfully made the choice to start planning on moving back. It was a hard choice to come to. We had children in our home that we loved deeply. I wanted them to stay in my life. Shortly after deciding we would be moving sometime within that year we got a call that I never thought we would get. That eight-year-old boy that never left, needed a forever family. We had to say yes, he was our son. He was our son before we knew Chase.
As our move date drew near these children we grew to love as our own slowly were all reunified with their family besides two. The two that would be staying were going to college and becoming adults. It was perfect timing. We knew it was time to close this chapter of our lives.
We did end up moving back to our home state. I stay home with my kids and love waking up every morning knowing that I get to put my oldest on the bus and hold my youngest while he naps. The kids we grew so close to that were all reunified with their families are still a part of my life. We call each other, text, video chat, and they all send us Happy Mothers & Father’s Day messages on those days.
I am living a life that I never thought I would live. This life knows me better then I know myself.