The story below was written by one of my dearest friends, DJ Ortman.
“Aren’t you worried about your own kids?” This is the question we got from friends and family more than any other question when we decided to foster to adopt. Our biological children were 9, 7, and 3 at the time. I was a stay-at-home-mom who homeschooled and wanted to protect and care for our children to the best of my ability, but we also felt called to care for the vulnerable, hurt, and orphaned child.
What will you be bringing into your home? What will they see? What bad things will they learn and be exposed to? Will you have enough time for your own kids? Will they feel cheated? All things we heard from well-meaning people, and we asked these questions too. But we pressed on and trusted our Heavenly Father. And now that we’ve been fostering for several years, these questions have all been answered.
What did we bring into our home? We brought in a very sad 2-year-old found in his home with his deceased sibling. What did they see? They saw six weeks of wound care for a little girl with burns over 1/4 of her body. They tenderly held twins in body casts with 27 broken bones. They held a little boy that we had for 10 days over Christmas – he came to us after he watched his dad use a baseball bat to kill his grandma and put his mom in the ICU. He never spoke a word the whole time he was with us. What will they be exposed to? A 3-year-old that only growled at us for two weeks; a lot of screaming and crying and empty facial expressions; caseworkers sharing too much information in their presence. What have they learned? Some really amazing things that have shaped them in ways we couldn’t have in our ordinary life.
Our 15-year-old can tell you why self-control is an issue that mom and dad talked about, explained often, and showed in scripture. This lesson was hammered home by seeing broken babies kids left alone while their parents partied and abused drugs and alcohol; by seeing kids left behind like stray puppies on the streets.
Our 12-year-old has decorated her room with photos and memories from each child we have loved. She prays regularly for all of them and her spirit is tender towards the least of these.
Our 8-year-old regularly prays, “Thank you, Lord, that I have a mommy and daddy that love me.” She has learned that many don’t.
They have taught us not to be cynical and assume the worst. Each time a child leaves we send a children’s Bible or Bible CD along with pictures the kids have drawn – the Gospel in a wordless book colored by the kids. While our hearts are sometimes bitter and angry towards bio parents, the kids will say in sincere hope, “Maybe the whole family will come to know Jesus because of what we sent.”
We ended up adopting our first placement and our ninth placement, and we’ve said goodbye to thirteen children. Our hearts were broken; our kids’ prayers were sometimes not answered in the way we hoped. They’ve learned the sovereignty of God. They’ve learned sacrifice and selflessness. They’ve learned they are not the center of the universe and that they are very blessed. They’ve learned that sin has severe consequences and sometimes those consequences are not reversible. They have learned that the world is hurting and that there are very real ways that they can help. They can read books to kids. They can hold babies and rock toddlers and sing songs and dance with a child who has only seen shouting and hitting. They can color a picture and give a favorite stuffed animal to comfort a traumatized child. They can learn to make dinner and wash clothes and wipe counters. For the glory of God and the love of family.
While we would like to adopt more children, we’re on a break from fostering while we grieve our loss and help our adopted sons cope with insecurity after seeing their foster sisters that we loved for a year leave. We want back in, but even more we want to see the body of Christ rise up and say YES to a caseworker who asks, “Will you take in and love this child?”
DJ is a wife and homeschool mama to 5 kiddos – 3 bio kids (ages 15, 12, and 8) and 2 adopted kids (ages 5 and 2). Shortly after writing this post, the Ortmans jumped back into fostering and are currently caring for a 4 month old baby girl.
Check out my other posts related to foster care, including:
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