The Summer of 2014, life was good with our three girls… healthy family, great marriage, loving our 30’s after selling our insurance brokerage, I was working for the great company that had purchased our agency, Shea was able to stay at home with the kids, we lived near family, and I was making plans to be empty nesters by our mid 40’s… we were living on cloud nine!!! Rather than wait for something to knock us off course, I guess you can say that we decided to rock our own worlds by not just adding to our family but somewhat multiplying our family.
Shea and I met in high school. She was a Sophomore and I was a Junior. The young love was more of a friendship that continued to add love to it as time went on. After being together and married for so long, we can read one another pretty well. The day that Shea came to me with an idea to adopt another child, I knew that she was serious even though she tried to add some cute little chuckles into the proposition. Not knowing the full background I replied, ‘Ya, sure let’s do it.’ What I didn’t realize was that Shea had already put weeks of preparation into this and was ready to roll. She had already spoken to adoption agencies, read countless blogs, found information on foreign adoptions, as well as adoption of special needs children. I was shell shocked. Shea was ready to multiply and replenish our family and I was still buying new dirt bikes and other toys.
A few weeks passed by and we had done pretty much everything to get closer to making a final decision about the route that we were headed to adopt. We spoke to our daughters and they were beyond excited, but I kept making small excuses about the timing and tried to delay the process. Shea picked up on my tactics and knew how to handle it. You see, as part of Shea’s planning she spent countless hours praying to her Father in Heaven to seek guidance. I expressed to Shea that I hadn’t felt inspired to adopt quite yet and she asked me the obvious question, ‘Well, have you prayed about adopting a child yet?’
Did I even need to answer her?!?! No, I didn’t pray yet!!! I already knew the answer that HE was going to give me! I knew that this was what our family was supposed to do, but I wanted to play more. As soon as I pray and asked God what to do, then I’d have to act on it and that meant that I will have more babies, less sleep, and less time to play!!!
Needless to say, I decided to grow up and quit thinking of only myself. I started by getting in-sync with my lovely wife and prepare to adopt a child. We spoke further with the adoption agencies… this is a great route to go and consider but there were two things that didn’t sit right with us:
- We had three perfect daughters of our own already and we had many friends that were still going through the adoption process for their first or second child. We felt that these families should be able to adopt a baby before we did.
- Many of the adoption fees are based on a percentage of income. That just didn’t sit right with me. Regardless, whether our family was at the low or high end… I felt like I would be purchasing a child rather than adopting one. This may sound silly to some but I just want to be an open book about it.
Once we decided to not move forward with local adoption, we looked into foreign adoption as well as adoption of special needs children. To be honest, we didn’t get really far into these options because as we researched… we found the option of Foster to Adopt. I felt this was for us. Our life was pretty much perfect and we could provide some great charity to a child in need by providing a great family and home to them… were my thoughts when we began the process!!
Shea’s story provides more details on what we went through to get licensed as well as what it took to finalize the adoption with Heath. So what I want to share is that we started out thinking that we would provide a great service to Society or a great service to a child that didn’t have a family or a home to call their own. But what I learned was what true love was.
- I learned to love another as much as you love your biological family.
- I learned to pray.
- I learned to trust in a great plan that a loving Heavenly Father has provided for me.
- I learned how to teach my daughters that we are all His children.
- I learned that Heath has provided me more charity than I can ever provide to him.
To ‘Love thy Neighbor’ is to serve thy neighbor.
Of course, I had fears that I would love Heath while we fostered him and that something would happen during the process that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to adopt him. For some reason, I wouldn’t allow myself to outwardly show affection towards him. I would tell myself to not hug and kiss him, which was my stupid way to try and stall the attachment. It wasn’t until we had him in our home for about 2 months that I realized how stupid that was. I loved him and I felt as though he was MINE. I feel that only LOVE and FAITH can replace FEAR. From that day on, Heath gets more bear hugs and kisses than he probably feels comfortable with but he will just have to deal with it. J
Adoption Day can’t be put into words. I look at the pictures of that day and it makes me laugh seeing the biggest smile known to man that is on my face!! Who knew that you could cry that much while smiling that big??? I don’t have pictures to prove it but the only other times that I cried and smiled that big were when I got to show my family members each of my three newborn daughters through the glass of the nurseries at the hospitals.
As a Mormon or member of the LDS Church, we believe that families that work to keep God’s plan can live together forever. Taking Heath to the temple to perform this sealing ordinance meant everything to me and our family. WE ARE AN ETERNAL FAMILY AND WE LOVE HEATH AND WANT HIM FOR ALL ETERNITY!!!
When we received the news that Heath’s biological mother was pregnant with another… my first emotion was excitement. I LOVE babies. I love that they have no choice but to just let you love on them, to snuggle them, and let’s be honest… it’s easier to parent them. I don’t know how to parent my older-emotional daughters. Parenting them requires thought, patience, knowing when to talk and when to listen. But parenting infants… you feed them, hold them, change some diapers, and let them sleep a lot. Easy Peasy. I also love to stir the pot a little bit. You see, when Shea and I were first married we were in the middle of a serious conversation with my in-laws about purchasing a home, careers, etc. My in-laws are hard-working, frugal, and very financially sound. So just to get a rouse out of them… I carried on for about 30 minutes how I wasn’t going to college, renting an apartment, and purchasing a Porsche. So now that I have FIVE kids, I love seeing people’s reactions. I love to tell them that they are all ours and that if you are going to have five kids… you might as well have EIGHT!!!
I also took Shea to look at the Mercedes Sprinters, you know those huge cargo vans that are like 15 feet tall, just so I could mess with her that it was going to be her daily driver. Even Shea was beginning to think that I had lost all of my marbles.
Let’s put it this way, I love being in our young 30’s and have a big family. I love having 5 kids under the age of 10 years old. I love that Heath and Charlee have just molded right into our family as well as our extended families. I love that Heavenly Father will put the pieces of our lives in the right places when we get out of the way and let it all happen. I love our country that we are able to Foster & Adopt. I love that the birth certificate of Heath has Shea & I listed as his mother & father and I can’t wait for the day to finalize the adoption with Charlee. I love that my daughters love Heath & Charlee as their own blood. I love my wife for leading the way down this journey. And I love that I got over my selfish desires and put the trust needed in the whole process.
And YES, being a foster parent is for NORMAL people too!!!