I am a veterinarian. When my wife and I already had three teenage boys, God had put on our hearts that we should be doing more with our lives and resources to for the kingdom of God. My wife has a brother and a sister whose families have adopted children. One of her brother’s little girls came from the Marshall Islands. Because we had three nieces that were adopted, my wife was talking to me a lot about adoption. I told her that If God dropped a baby into our lap I would take it but I don’t want to go looking all over the world fora baby to adopt.
I was a small group leader for our Wednesday night youth group at church. At the time that we were having our adoption discussions at home, I was asked to give a talk to our middle school boys about how to be Godly man. I was reading through the Bible in a year and I just happen to be in the book of Job. Job was defending himself to his friends and describing the kind of man he had been. I thought that this would make a pretty good list about how to be a godly man, so I paraphrased Job 31 into a list.
Job 31 verse 1-42
vs.1 – Controlling his desires, vs.7 – Fidelity to his wife, vs.9 – Not coveting another man’s wife, vs.13 – Responding to the complaints of employees, vs.15 – Respecting others because they are created by the same God, vs.16 – caring for the poor and widowed, vs.18 – father to the fatherless and helping widows, vs.19 – clothing the poor, vs.24 – not putting one’s trust in wealth, vs.25 – not rejoicing in wealth, vs.26 & 27 – always being amazed by Gods creation, worship the creator not the creation, vs.29 – not rejoicing in his enemies setbacks, vs.32 – being hospitable, vs.33 – publicly owning up to your failures
Job 31:17 – or have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless has not eaten of it, Job 31:18 – (for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father, and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow),
God spoke to me through this and I did a Bible search for orphans and then for the fatherless. I found 4 verses with the word orphans in it, including the famous verse about widows and orphans in James 1:27. I found 42 versus about taking care of the fatherless. You know how when you first learn a new word, world event or location or concept all of a sudden you seem to hear it everywhere? That is how it was with me and foster care. It seemed as if God was continually puttingFoster care in front of me. For me reading Job and searching the Bible for references to the fatherless was the conclusive factor that convinced me that we should be doing Foster care.
I went home and told my wife that I didn’t feel like I was ready for adoption just yet but that we should pray about doing foster care. There are a lot of children out there who are technically not orphans but definitely, fatherless and have no one to care for them properly. We prayed about it, God softened our hearts and we felt that He was directing us to do foster care. We met with the social workers and applied for our foster care license. We were asked if we wanted to be a pre-adoptive home, in other words, if the parent(s) of one of the children that were doing foster care for had their parental rights terminated, would we consider adopting a child. We said yes we would consider adopting any child whose parents had their parental rights terminated. We had to do a number of things to get our Foster care license, including replacing windows in the house. Eight months after signing our foster care application and saying that we wanted to be a pre-adoptive family we got our first foster child for just a few days. A month went by without another foster child.
Nine months after we signed the papers saying that we wanted to be a pre-adoptive foster care home our son Aksel was born.
We got a call from the Social services. They told us they had an emergency foster care placement but the child was a safe haven baby meaning that he had been dropped off at the hospital by his mother with no questions asked. He was up for adoption immediately and they wanted to know if we wanted to take him as our foster child and start adoption proceedings.
We had one two-year-old little girl whose baby sister died from a skull fracture. We had one little girl for one month that we got at birth whose mom needed to be treated for a psychiatric condition. She went back to her mom but then her mom committed suicide two months later. The little girl was sent to live with her mom’s estranged, alcoholic, unemployed husband. I won’t go through every foster child. I just wanted to express the dire need for good foster families that so many children need.
Then we got a two-year-old little girl named Erin.
Her mom was arrested on drug charges and child endangerment. We were told that we would have Erin for a few months while her mom served some jail time and got some treatment. When her mom got out of jail it took her a few weeks to contact Social services to arrange for weekly visitations with Erin. We thought we would have Erin only for long term foster care. After six months we were told that her mom had been positive for drugs on every single weekly visit, had not done a single item on her case plan, such as seek drug counseling and parenting classes and she had a warrant out for her arrest because she had never once contacted her parole officer. Oh, and by the way she was about to have another baby.
Then we got a two-year-old little girl named Erin.
We were told that we would have Erin for a few months while her mom served some jail time and got some treatment. We thought we would have Erin only for long term foster care.
Six months later On January 2, 2013 we got another call from social services saying that Erin’s mom was in the hospital and had just given birth a baby. The police were waiting to take her to jail for parole violations. Social services told us that Erin’s little sister Ava was going through drug withdrawal and would have to stay in the hospital for a few days.
Social services then told us that they were going to petition the court for termination of parental rights on Erin. In all likelihood in six months, they would be moving to terminate parental rights on the new baby Ava as well. They wanted to keep the two girls together so they were looking for a family who would want to adopt them both if it turned out that parental rights were terminated on both children. I told my wife that I didn’t really want to adopt two more kids but Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh either, and how can we say no?
Parental Rights were terminated on Erin and Ava. We then adopted both girls.
We have been approached by couples who are having a difficult time adopting and have heard about our situation doing foster care and ending up with three children to adopt. We try to tell them that this is very unusual And Aksel’s situation was nothing short of a miracle. Aksel is only the second Safe Haven baby the hospital has ever had and parental rights are seldom terminated on parents without the children going into foster care, back to the parents, into foster care, back to the parents, into foster care, back to the parents and then having the parental rights terminated when the children are in their teens.
I believed all this happened the way it did because we didn’t tell God that we wanted to adopt some children, please send us some children to adopt. We ask God what he wanted us to do. God spoke to me through the book of Job, God had three specific children chosen for us that he wanted us to adopt and he wanted to send them to us through the foster care system. He also had other children that he wanted us to take care of but not adopt.
My dad was a family practice M.D. When I was in 5th grade he fulfilled a life long dream when he volunteered to go to New Guinea to do mission work. He left his multi-doctor practice and worked in New Guinea running a missionary hospital for a year without pay. He even had to pay his, and our family’s, way to New Guinea and back. Not only did he give of his time and resources to help further the kingdom of God but he also trusted God that he would get most of his patients back when he returned after being gone for a year. His desire to serve God in this way Greatly influenced me and I always wanted to do something similar. However, I became Veterinarian and had my own solo practice. I could not leave without selling the practice and I never felt led by God to sell my practice and go overseas. The way our three adopted children came to us showed me that God has a different plan for everyone. I was not meant to serve God the way that my father did and he does not call others to serve him the way that we are with foster care and adoption. Each person obedience to God’s call on their life is unique.
When we adopted our three little children and continued to do foster care, we wanted our older boys to understand why we were doing what we were doing. It was important for us to let them know that we were not needing anything. It was important for them to understand that they were enough, that we loved them, we’re proud of them and that they were the world to us. We also wanted them to know that it is important to live for God, to do God’s bidding. God gives us resources and he wants us to be generous and share those resource. We also wanted them to know that they had a privileged life and life is not just about ourselves. God wants us to look around and ask; what can we do for God? What can we do for our neighbor? Each of us has our own interests and gifts. My dad demonstrated to me one way of serving God when we went to New Guinea. I am different. My wife and I decided that the best way for us to serve was through the path of foster care and then through adoption when God put adoption directly in our path.
I have tried other means of serving. I taught biology in a Home School Co-op and at Oak Hills Christian college. I also was a small group leader for many years at our church on wedges day nights. I have discovered that I do not have as much interest and do not invest myself in other people’s kids as I do with my own children. the best way for me to show love to God’s children was to make them my own.
To help my older boys understand, we watched Schindler”s list. I pointed out to our boys that there were many Jews that needed help. Most people went out of their way to not recognize the plight of the Jews in their midst. And for many that did recognize their plight they chose to ignore it. Schindler saw a need to help the Jews and keep them out of the concentration camps, but he also set out to make money on their labor. However, when God put those Jews right in front of him he decided to use his wealth to help them rather than use them to get wealthier. At the end of the movie, there is a very powerful scene where Mr. Schindler is in despair over the fact that he could have saved more. He could have sold his car. He could have sold his gold ring. he could have saved more. I wanted the boys to understand that we do not want to meet God on judgement day and realize what we could have done and did not do.
No, we are not going to sell everything and save every child that needs a foster family or that needs an adoptive family. We have to limit what we do so that the children we do provide foster care for or adopt get the love and attention that they need and deserve. And that our three older boys get the love and attention that THEY need and deserve.
See more stories and essays on my website thorsgardbook.com.
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