I make millions of decisions each day. The first is generally whether to get up and exercise or turn off my alarm clock and keep sleeping. The last is usually whether to read my Bible before bed or Harry Potter.
Kirk and I have had to make many decisions in our married life. Some have little effect on our lives (i.e. What show should we watch tonight?) and some have changed the course of our lives (i.e. Should we become foster parents?).
Some decisions are made in a split second and some have time to be prayed over for days or weeks or months. Someone once told Kirk that as long as your decisions are in line with the big picture of where God is calling you, it doesn’t matter the specifics of each “little” decision. I say “little” in quotations because when I say little I mean decisions like whether or not to take a specific foster placement. I’d like to share some examples of three decisions we’ve made in the past few years that have changed the course of our lives. Many people have seemed surprised that Kirk and I would chose to uproot our family and move to Chattanooga, TN but each “little” decision we have made has led us to this big decision for the well being of our family as a whole (and God making it very obvious that this was His leading).
Two and a half years ago I was driving my cousin to the airport to go visit her family for Thanksgiving break. It was the day before Kirk’s sister and her family were to arrive to spend Thanksgiving with us. I got a phone call from my case worker (as a waiting foster parent, I always answered the phone when she called). Could we take a two year old boy? He was going to an emergency placement that night but would be brought over the next day. “Yes,” I said, “I’ll need to double check with Kirk when I get home but assume we’re saying yes unless I call you back.” Kirk was more hesitant. We had a lot going on with family coming into town, my birthday the next day, Thanksgiving, etc. After an hour of thinking about it we decided to take him. Fast forward two years later and it’s Daniel’s adoption day. We love Daniel and he’s an awesome kid. He’s gone through some rough stuff in the first few years of his life and is still growing emotionally…putting him developmentally as a 5 year old but emotionally more like a 3 year old. A decision made in an hour that has changed our lives forever.
One and a half years ago we had been doing respite care every few weekends for a former placement to help his mom adjust to suddenly becoming a mommy of a newborn. We were so tired and sleep deprived having had back to back newborns for several months and after sending him home on Sunday decided to take a little break. On Monday I got a call from our case worker (this time I was in a meeting and missed the call). Could we take a 6 week old boy? He was with a wonderful family but they would not be able to continue to care for him. I was hesitant and called Kirk. He said, “Yes, if we want to continue to grow our family we have to keep saying yes to placements and following through in however we can serve each kiddo and their family.” Fast forward and we have a very active, very heavy, very strong-willed and rambunctious 21 month old who, Lord willing, we will be adopting this summer. Baby K is constantly on the move and began showing toddler-like behaviors at the age of 18 months. He’s an awesome kiddo but a lot of work to keep up with. We decided to take Baby K after asking one question, “It looks like we’ll be adopting Daniel who is an African American so we’d like to only take Baby K if he is an African American so that Daniel won’t be the only black kiddo in our family.” It was an instant decision that changed the course of our lives.
Accepting Baby K mostly changed the course of our lives a few days later when we found out that he had an 18 month old sister that might come into foster care in the future, “If she does, can you take her too?” We had weeks to make this decision. It was a hard decision because we knew that if we said no we would likely have to say goodbye to Baby K because they would find a home for them both to be together. But at the same time we were feeling very stretched as a family and wanted to be careful not to take on more than we could handle. We didn’t know her and what level of care she would need. Two months after Baby K joined our family, Girly K joined us too. God knew our limits and didn’t give us more than we could handle. We had several months to decide if we could handle being a family of seven and had to pray through a lot because we knew taking Girly K would change the course of our lives.
Fast forward to today. We have five children. Our two oldest are very stable, having normal sorts of needs and issues. Our biggest stress for them is making sure that they get enough attention from us. The youngest three all have needs that we anticipated in varying degrees. I love them each so much. They are hard to parent for various reasons, all of them displaying toddler-like behaviors. Having three toddlers is hard work. It’s especially hard when Kirk is gone most of the weekend. When we were presented with the opportunity to move to Chattanooga where Kirk’s work schedule would match up with our kids weekly schedule we jumped at the opportunity. It’s hard to image weekend life with two parents available after being the only parent on weekends for 10 years. I am so excited about being able to go on family adventures on Saturday mornings (or even sleeping in). I am so excited about going to church with my kids AND my husband. I know that Kirk’s presence on the weekends isn’t going to instantly change the behaviors of my kids or their needs. But not being the sole grown-up responsible for de-escalating each child, disciplining each behavior, and comforting each child is something I look forward to. I am so thankful to the Lord who has given us this opportunity to move to Chattanooga where we can focus more on the health of our family. (And I haven’t even begun to talk about how excited I am to live so close to my in-laws, my sister, Kirk’s sister and her family, and my brother and his family…and in a few years my parents.)
I’m so thankful that my future lies in the hands of an all-knowing and all-loving Heavenly Father and that he has led our family into this new adventure.