Melanie Parent’s foster to adopt journey is one of love, heartbreak, deep faith and godly community. She is brave & courageous & one of my heroes. She told me once that she could only consider this journey because she has such an amazing village who loves her well. May we all learn from her experience & strive to create villages that so beautifully surround, support & love all the Melanies & Sophies in our churches.
My foster and adoption journey started after a mission trip to Panama in 2012. I’ve volunteered with my youth group for many years but on this particular trip God stirred in my heart the call to adopt. I’m not married and wasn’t even sure I wanted kids of my own but when God begins to speak who am I to say no? So after much prayer and seeking advice from my people, I decided my answer was YES. This yes started my journey as a foster mom through the state. Because I’d be doing this as a single mom, fathers and sons from my church stepped up to say they would be constant role models for these sweet children. My church invited me to conferences to make sure I was prepared and prayed with me when the doors I thought were the right ones seemed to close. They also connected me with people who I believe God placed in my life to work out a plan that far exceeded anything I could imagine.
I was approved as an official foster parent in June 2013. 8 months later, DCS placed a 3 1/2 week old baby girl in my home! Oh the excitement! My church family rallied around us with calls and texts to see what our immediate needs were. Friends brought us dinners and diapers. One friend from church brought me lots of baby girl clothes and stayed to put away all the clothes and diapers in the nursery. That first night was rough. Sweet girl only slept for about an hour at a time and cried most of the night. I have to say I threw up the next morning, exhausted and overwhelmed about all I had just been entrusted with. My yes to God had just gotten real! I knew it was impossible without my village. Our youth minister and his wife came over that day and held baby girl while we both got some much needed sleep. It was then I knew we would be ok. God would continue to provide. In the next few months, we began our new normal. I knew there was a good chance this little girl would not be staying with me forever. She had a great aunt in a different state who loved her and wanted to take care of her. But getting her there would mean lots of court hearings and decisions by judges. In the meantime my heart fell in love with this precious life that was depending on me. I loved her fiercely and I cried about letting her go. I again turned to my church family for prayers when her future seemed uncertain and prayers before court hearings and prayers when it felt like my heart could handle no more. They sat with me for long mornings at court. They shopped with me to occupy the time during birth family visits when I wasn’t invited to stay. The time came to entrust someone else to care for this sweet little girl who had been mine for almost 4 months. Again my church surrounded me. They prayed and spent time with me so I wouldn’t be alone in a now very silent house. Slowly the healing began.
You may have noticed by now I have not mentioned baby girl’s name or told you much about her “story”. With both of my girls, I’ve had many people ask me “so what’s her story”. While this seems harmless, it makes us feel as if you’ve just asked us to tell you the deepest darkest secret of our child’s soul. Those details aren’t ours to tell and we don’t always know the facts. We do know there is brokenness. The details aren’t important, just know they are in need of love.
God wasn’t finished with this journey. Four months later, I got the call for a 2 week old baby girl named, Sophie. My church family showed up with just as much excitement as before! They went with me to the hospital and packed me dinner because I was way too excited to remember to eat! They brought food and pulled out the newborn clothes and put away the bigger clothes (since I couldn’t bring myself to do that in the months before).
I was smitten from the beginning. This time I was told she might need an adoptive family. I was more than happy to be that family, but again this would mean lots of court dates and judges and uncertainty. No matter where the journey lead, I knew my church would walk with me. I remember friends consistently checking in and asking what they could pray for specifically. Most of the time people didn’t ask me “how are you doing?’ because they knew sometimes it was a roller coaster of emotions and I might just need a hug and someone to cry with me. They celebrated with us over baby milestones and made Sophie feel like she had lots of extended family. 🙂 I remember walking to my car one Sunday morning and finding diapers and milano cookies on my hood. I didn’t have to purchase the first pack of diapers until Sophie was 4 months old!! Our church’s children’s clothing sale ministry allowed me to shop early and gave me a credit to use at each sale. Just another wonderful way they could encourage and support me in my fostering journey. My life group prayed over big court dates and checked in after to see what decisions had been made.
After 13 long months I got to adopt my sweet girl!! It was a great day of celebration! Sophie and I had 54 people at the courthouse that day to celebrate our new family. I had a good friend who volunteered to photograph the occasion. They also threw a brunch afterward, complete with yummy food and monogrammed cookies. My church has continued to wrap around us. They threw an adoption shower for us to fill our home with toys and books. It’s a little unconventional to throw a shower for a toddler but my church did it so well. 🙂 We recently moved to a house with a big backyard for her. I had mentioned to a friend at church that I planned to buy a swing set for Sophie at some point. A few weeks later, I had come home from a youth group trip and my mom told me to check the back yard. I opened the door to find the coolest swing set, already assembled and ready to use. It even had a toddler swing! I looked at my mom and said, “Oh you shouldn’t have!” and she said, “I didn’t. It was everyone at church!” Many families from our youth group pitched in to get us the perfect housewarming gift.
Typing that story brings tears to my eyes. It will always be a reminder of how my church family answered the call to take up the cause of the fatherless and show more love than I would ever know alone.
I chose to foster and adopt because LOVE. These children need love. I need love. God is love. So as God has commanded, Be Love. Whether that’s being a prayer warrior for a foster or adoptive family or meeting physical needs. We need people who will walk with us throughout our journey. These kids need us all on their team! Together we can help heal hearts.