|April 16, 2015. Family complete (so far at least :) ).|
And just like that, the gavel drops and this family has expanded to include two little boys that needed a family to love - a forever family.
Just like that.
This family's story is one of my favorites. I have known them since before there were any children in it. Michelle (Mama) has been one of my dearest friends for most of those 23 years.
Their story started as traditional as most of middle class America's does. Married shortly after college, started their family a few years later, beginning with a beautiful young lady that was not able to be a part of today's picture. They eventually had three more, two girls and a boy. Home educated, raised in Church, busy, busy, busy. Good parents, good friends. Their kids have always been, and still are, some of my kids' best friends. They are a blessing in more ways than I can express here.
But a few years ago, their lives took a turn that none of us really saw coming. They began to be drawn to foster care and, instead of just laying on the couch and watching a movie until that feeling went away, they asked questions, they pursued, they trained...and they began a new chapter in their family's life.
|Look at those cheeks!|
- many dark, night hours holding, feeding, rocking scared toddlers
- round the clock feedings and diaper changes for newborn infants
- washing lice out of hair and bedding
- loving babies, toddlers and adolescents that have never known real love
- calming toddlers with out-of-control behaviors that can be explained in no other way, other than adults can cause horrific consequences for the kids they leave in the wake of their pain and brokenness.
- figuring out how to balance serving these babies and loving and nurturing their own children.
- these same children pitching in time after time, serving these babies too - learning to love when it's easy and when it's hard.
- ministering to birth parents in ways that no one expected them to, nor was it their responsibility to - but they loved these babies' mamas and daddys, so they made themselves available.
- crying, as children they had fallen head-over-heels in love with were removed from their home to return to a home that may or may not be safe, to a kinship placement that was right and good, or to a permanent adoptive home, but it still rips your heart out to send babies you love away.
- Countless trips to the court house, doctor's offices, social workers, schools, jails and therapists.
- And I'm certain they would want me to add, failures, screw-ups, seeking and giving forgiveness, over and over.
After all of that, a little over three years ago, God gave them Isaiah, straight from the hospital...and two years later, his little brother, Josiah. These two? These two are never leaving. Though they have been their sons and brothers in their hearts for a long time already, today, they are their sons - in every single way.
So, when we see the end of a journey, (or sorta the beginning, actually)...we sometimes just see that little snippet - that "oh, how sweet" moment that the fairy tale comes true.
But the truth? The truth is, the journey is hard, fraught with fear and tears, joy and exhilaration, frustration and peace.
But look at those babies! They will never know what it feels like not to be loved. Their lives are forever changed. As are their Mama and Daddy's, their three big sisters' and their big brother's.
It is a fairy tale - one that only God could write. Just like that.