A Lady Named Leisa
Over two years ago, now, Daniel and I felt the Lord leading us toward adoption. As we began the process of trying to figure out which direction He'd have us go (international, domestic, which agency, etc.), we found out a couple of months into it that a precious baby was growing in my belly. The process was placed on hold.
Fast-forward about a year. Ella was 4-months old, and we felt strongly that it was time to begin the adoption process again. However, in the span of that year, we felt the Lord moving us toward a foster-to-adopt program. So, on May 12 of last year, we attended an informational meeting about becoming foster parents through the Texas CPS system. Also at the meeting were two private agencies who work with CPS and train parents to be "specialized foster parents." We decided (without really consulting the Lord) we should become "specialized" parents. I began filling out the stack of paperwork and then, when I became overwhelmed by it all, I put it to the side. And it sat to the 'side' for the next 6 months or so. I'm not proud of this at all, but I realized in that time that Daniel and I both needed to work through some things before moving forward. (And now looking back, I see that it wasn't the right agency, anyway)
The first weekend of this year, Daniel and I went on a 5th anniversary trip to Canton, TX. One of my goals for the trip was to finally finish filling out the paperwork. We both admitted we'd put the process on the back-burner and it was time to finish what we'd started. So, we spent a couple of hours Saturday morning filling it all out. And then later that week, I talked with a friend at Bible study who just recently adopted 2 children through the CPS foster-to-adopt program. She had also been a 'specialized foster parent' at one time, too. She suggested we not go through a private agency, but apply to be basic foster parents through CPS. You see, we don't want to disrupt the birth order of our children, so we're only willing to take a child younger than our youngest (who is currently 14 months). She said we were more likely to have a baby placed in our home if we went straight through CPS. So, without consulting the Lord (again!), we filled out the CPS application and mailed it in.
3 weeks went by and we had not heard a word from CPS. Daniel called this past Friday and we received a punch in the gut. We were pretty much told we weren't needed right now. The lady he spoke with said she already had plenty of families waiting for babies or young children, so she didn't need our family. She suggested we wait until Ella was 5 years old and then apply again.
I felt like we were back at square one - only, it was two years later! I had no clue what to do. The rest of that night I called out to the Lord and asked Him to please show us how to proceed. Saturday afternoon I was playing around on the internet and looked up the CPS website. I looked at pictures of children who are waiting to be adopted. While I did this, I asked the Lord if we were being too strict about our parameters. Daniel and I both had expectations as to how the process would work and the age of the child we'd take into our home. Maybe we needed to throw those to the wind and allow the Lord to change our expectations.
And then I saw a link to a website for an agency entitled Christian Homes & Family Services. The name caught my attention and they were listed as having an office in our area. I read through their website and loved what I saw. Including the fact that they have a foster-to-adopt program! I decided I'd call their office on Monday.
Before calling, I had my quiet time. I knew that at times during this process we'd sought the Lord, but there were definitely other moments where we took the bull by the horns and did what we wanted and thought was best. I'm tired of doing that! It only leads to dead ends! So, I prayed and asked the Lord if I should even call. I also told Him that if we were to foster/adopt children older than Ella (and even Riley), we'd do it if it was His plan. I didn't want our agenda to stand in the way any longer. After prayer and study, I felt like He was giving me the green light to call.
That's when I first talked with Leisa. She is in charge of the foster-to-adopt program for the Tyler area. I told her our story and she asked where we lived. She said they worked with families in a 70-mile radius of Tyler. I wasn't sure exactly how many miles we were from Tyler, so while she was on the phone I looked it up. We are 66 miles away. Just made the cut! I then explained to her how we felt very convicted that we shouldn't disrupt the birth order in our home. She responded with, "Laura, I would never place a child in your home that's older than your youngest. Our agency doesn't do that. We feel like it's not good for the children." And I felt God saying...you heard Me right! She then shared all of the basic requirements with me and allowed me to ask any questions I might have. We ended the conversation with her getting my email address so she could send us the pre-application.
I felt so much peace while talking with her. Yes, this means even more paperwork to fill out, but because I feel as though we've finally found the right agency, I'm excited about filling it all out! Please pray for us as we continue down this road we started 2 years ago. Pray we'll be diligent in doing what we need to to become certified foster parents. Pray for that child (or children!) we'll get to care for in our home as we wait for the one God has for us to bring into his/her forever family. And praise God with me for speaking clearly and leading us to Christian Homes & Family Services!