Boy was I wrong! Ella even surpasses Riley as far as being content in just about any circumstance, an awesome sleeper, and a sweet temperament. She is a reminder to me every day that the Lord truly will not give us more than we can handle!
So, almost 2 months ago, I felt the Lord nudging my heart back towards a focus on adoption. Ella is not just a reminder the Lord won't give us more than we can handle. I believe she is such a good baby so that we can pick up where we left off a year ago and get the ball rolling towards 'rescuing' a child and bringing them into our 'forever family.'
Over the past year, God has been working on both mine and Daniel's hearts in regards to fostering in hopes of one day adopting one of the children placed in our home. A good friend I met at Community Bible Study just recently adopted 2 children she's been fostering. She put me in contact with a lady who works for Child Protective Services here in Northeast Texas. The lady told me the first step would be to attend an information meeting. I contacted her at the end of March, and the next scheduled meeting was in June. I kind of felt like that was a long way off, but she mentioned she was trying to set up a meeting in May in the next town over from us. I asked her to please let me know when that would be, and we would definitely be there! Apparently she sent me an email in mid-April telling me the meeting was going to be May 12, but for some reason, I didn't see the email until May 10! Thankfully, the Lord placed it on my heart to be 'proactive' (or at least I thought that's what I was doing!) and contact her, but when I was looking back through old emails for her address, I stumbled upon the one with the flyer about the information meeting. I'm so thankful I did that and we didn't miss the May 12 meeting!
At this meeting, we were informed that in 2007 there were more than 71,344 Texas children who were known to be confirmed victims of abuse and neglect. That absolutely breaks my heart! And if it breaks my heart, I can't imagine what it does to our Creator's heart! Daniel and I keep saying, "how can we not be involved in somehow helping some of these children???" Yes, it will probably rip out our hearts every time a child is taken from our home back into their original environment. Yes, it's scary to think about what the children may enter our home knowing or having experienced. But, we have to do something! We can't just sit by and watch this happen in our community. Ultimately, our goal is to be able to adopt one of the children we're asked to care for. As we wait for that child, though, my goal (and I'm sure my husband would agree) is to do everything in my power to make sure these kids know there is a God who created them and loves them!
You may be wondering how this will affect our biological children. We definitely feel that they're our first responsibility, so we do not want to do anything that could possibly place them in danger. Our rule right now is that we will not bring any foster child into our home that is older than Ella. Yes, that certainly minimizes the amount of children available for us to foster, but we refuse to put our children in any danger. As Ella grows older, obviously, the maximum age limit will increase. Also, since our goal is to adopt, we want the birth order in our family to remain as it is right now.
So, that's where we are right now. The next step is to fill out the initial paperwork, which will then lead us to about 35 hours of training. What has been SO encouraging to me, and one thing I love about the family of God, is that so many of our friends around the country are walking this same road. Some are adopting international children, some are adopting from right here in the U.S., and some are participating in the foster-to-adopt program. I love reading their different blogs and knowing we're not alone in this exciting, yet sometimes scary, adventure! Last night I started thinking about all of the different people we know in the adoption process, and I wanted to list them all here. As you are praying for us, please also pray for all of our friends (click on their name to read their story)!
Chad & Cole Gilbert
Jason & Terah Sampler
Matt & Jacque Middlecamp
Owen & Amanda Nease (they adopted their little girl in December!)
Jeremy & Amanda Lynch
Jeff & Alicia Audirsch
Wes & Sarai Barnett
Calvin & Erica Ho (they brought their son home from Ethiopia!)
Jon & Anna Palmer (they also brought their son home from Ethiopia!)
"Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in his holy house. God makes homes for the homeless..." Psalm 68:6