Hi there, my name is Courtnay Phillips. I am a Jesus loving, coffee guzzling, head swearing, child rearing, pro snuggling, booboo healing, dragon slaying, multitasking, mighty machine. And then there are days where the only thing that’s mighty is my tantruming 2 year old and the thought of “bedtime is near…GLORY.”… It is my honor to share with you our story as we are a bio, adoptive and foster family.
From the get-go we always had a heart for adoption. We had watched many people in our life utter things like, “We always wanted to adopt, but we never got around to it.” The frequency of this statement killed us! Just think, if all those people had actually made an orphan their priority, then how many more kids would have been taken care of? How many kids remain family-less because someone put it on life’s back burner. We made a commitment that we would never speak those words. We would adopt. Even if the timing was horrible, even if we had zero means, simply because we are either full of excuses or full of faith. And well, I don’t want to be one that is full of excuses now do I?!
After having a set of Irish twins (not recommended) we knew in our hearts it was time to start the adoption process. Remember how I said, “even if the timing was horrible”? Well we had an almost 1 year old, almost 2 year old, both whom quite literally cried/screamed ALL day, a Dr. who said, “I just don’t know what’s wrong with them”, a mom (me) who was seriously losing her marbles and a husband juggling ministry, his fussy kids and a wife who was more like a constant weeping willow. And forget the “2 cents”, we didn’t have ONE cent to our name. Yet here we were saying, IT’S TIME.
We began our adoption classes, scared yet excited. We so trusted the Lord with His plan for our life and believed even more in our universal call to orphan care. We knew without a doubt that our heart’s desire would be met, as would our financial needs and the needs of the child that He had hand picked for us. We were ready to take on this huge heart beat of the Lord.
Though what happened next took us by huge surprise. One of our adoption classes was paired with a foster care class. In that room we were introduced to a father who had lost his children into the foster system. Typically when people think of those parents their thoughts consist of “Oh well they probably deserved to lose their kids anyways”. Our compassion meter is incredibly low. But this father took the mic and wept as he told his story. He was an ordinary man, living an ordinary life. He was you.. he was me. The trajectory of his life took a hard and unexpected left turn and he lost his kids because of it. He was not a believer at the time but he went on to explain the two different types of homes that his children were placed in. One was a non christian home, that he felt didn’t love or welcome his kids, there was an “emptiness”. It was a warm bed, sure, but it wasn’t a warm home. The second, was a God fearing home. They took his kids in showing them deep, unconditional love, treating them as their own, allowing them to grieve and giving them HOPE. He couldn’t put to words what the difference was then, except that “something was just so very different about this second home. I knew that my kids were safe.” He had since found Jesus because of that foster family. They did not only shine Christ’s light to those children, but to this father as well. Because of their obedience, because they didn’t live in fear, an entire family will be entering into the kingdom. We had always heard of the huge shortage of foster families but never even thought about the fact that there is an even bigger shortage of JESUS LOVING foster families. Though we had a million and a half fears and questions, we knew without a doubt that our hearts were turning. We were to enter the mission of foster care.
I would be lying if I said our minds weren’t instantly consumed by the “what if’s?”. I would also be lying if I said we didn’t give all the reasons as to why we couldn’t/wouldn’t obey… What if it’s too hard? What if we can’t handle their traumas? What if our kids pick up their behaviors? But we have no money. Saying goodbye will be way too hard! Our house isn’t big enough! We won’t have our freedom to vacation, to ‘just be a family’… etc. We gave all the same excuses that the rest of the world gives when being asked about foster care. Then we realized something, every answer we gave was not only based out of fear, but it also revealed our pure selfishness. Our world is already full of enough “me” centered people. Did we really believe that our personal needs/fears were more important than a child who had literally lost it all? A child who might fighting to even live? That was not who we wanted to be! We were so afraid of what it would do to our time, our emotions, our wallet, our kids, until we switched our mindset to “but what happens to these children if we don’t?” What happens to these kids if we are consumed by fear and the ‘what ifs’, if we are too nervous to leave our comfort zone? Well, they stay in the abusive situations a little longer, they don’t get food for a few more days or weeks. For some, this cost them their lives. For all, this costs them their freedom. We always preach on Philippians 4:13, but did we really believe that? I sure hope so, and so do these hurting children that are in desperate need of hope and refuge.
Once we were able to remove our “me” centered glasses and put on the “kingdom focused” ones we were able to see so clearly. We did not want to just listen to the gospel, we wanted to be DOERS of the gospel. We didn’t want our kids to just hear us talk like Him, but to see us daily walk like Him. Not just to learn of Christ, but to live like Christ. To clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to care for the weary, to lift burdens, to enter into their pain, to shine Jesus.
The thing about foster care is that it is not just about the children. To say that we just want to invest, love, care, and pray over the kids only, would be like looking through blinders. There is a way bigger picture. When you open your home to these children you are opening your home to a world of need. The needs of the children, yes, but like it or not you are planting yourself smack in the middle of others in need of hope. You bring in one, two, maybe three children, but those kids and their case introduce you to many others that you would have never known prior to their arrival. Judges, case workers, a Casa, visit supervisors, their teachers, their friends, their friends parents, the principle, aunties, uncles, grandmas, grandpas and of course the parents. You want to be a light for His kingdom? To get into your hurting community? Foster care.
Saying yes to foster care has been the scariest, most stretching journey. But it has also been an avenue to truly finding Jesus. I thought I lived a fully surrendered life, but then I became a foster mom. Now I know what true surrender means. When I look into the faces of these kids, I see Him. When I wipe their tears (and there’s a lot of them), I know Him. When I hold them close, I feel him. When I pray over them, His sweet presence blankets the room. When I carry their cross, I can sense Him saying, ‘Thank you’. Can it be uncomfortable? At times. Do you thrive on chaos? No way, the opposite actually. Is it exhausting? Sure is! Are you crushed when they leave? YES, wholeheartedly. Do we have all the right words? Nope. Were you ‘made for this’? Absolutely not. But when we decided it was far more important to change others (and be changed) for eternity then to find comfort here on earth, it made it all so worth it! And trust me, these kids.are.worth it!
After we had fully switched gears to foster, the Lord gave us the desire of our hearts and unexpectedly placed a sweet baby boy in our laps for adoption. So our family grew after all, but by then our hearts for foster care was also in full motion. I often just sit and start smiling wondering what our “family reunion” will look like one day. We are one big patchwork quilt that is for sure and I couldn’t be more proud… and just think, had we stayed in the land of the “what if”, none of this would be true for us today. Beyond thankful for the courage to step out in faith, rather than throwing out another excuse.
You can read my foster to adopt story HERE .
To read a remarkable journey of an amazing Birth Mom who so courageously placed her child up for adoption read HERE.
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