The Mabe Story

1.  What led you to begin the adoption/foster care process? 

Investing in youth and students is something that Logan and I have been passionate about throughout the course of our marriage and when we were single. I grew up in New England and Logan was raised in Ohio. We met in Springfield, MO in 2006 and since that time, the Lord has allowed us to join Him in some amazing adventures. One of which is our journey in foster care and adoption... something neither of us ever considered when we were growing up. Neither of us had any experience with foster care but God started to open our eyes to it in 2013. Little did we know, He had been preparing our steps long before.

While working and serving at our church in San Diego, we helped to lead a missions trip to Tijuana and that was when the Lord really started to press on Logan's heart. He saw a grandmother raising her 8 grandchildren and the questions started to surface. What happens if grandma is not around? Who else do these kids have? Meanwhile, around the same time, we happened to meet another couple who was fostering through an FFA agency in San Diego and we were intrigued.

We started to pursue some different avenues and finally landed on Angels Foster Family Network. Their ultimate goal is to provide stable, loving homes to foster children ages 0-5 in San Diego. It's also important to note that we had chosen to pursue foster care - where the main goal is reunification with the birth family. Oftentimes, people can misinterpret the purpose but ultimately, the purpose of foster care is to provide a temporary home (temporary can mean a week, a few months, or even years) for these kiddos while their parents or guardians complete case plans in order to reunify. 

Logan and I came from incredibly different backgrounds, but we both have had strong influences step in at crucial points in our lives to continue to reflect Christ's love and sovereignty. We wanted to do the same for these children.


2. What is the greatest blessing from your experience? 
There are so many blessings! I think I can sum it up to two themes... I'll try. First, we have seen God show Himself so clearly throughout the past few years. We have witnessed His character - His INTENTIONALITY, His SPECIFICITY, His SOVEREIGNTY, His GRACE, His TIMELINESS (note: not mine! :), His PEACE that literally goes beyond my understanding. To know Him in this way has been the greatest blessing. Secondly, He has built our family and given us children through foster care and adoption. During our journey, it was confirmed that we would not be able to have biological children of our own and even still, God had a greater plan. The absolute miracles that we witnessed in our children's adoptions are unbelievable and I'd love to share more at another time.

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In essence…

If you’re considering foster care or adoption to meet your own needs, you are going to be sorely disappointed and extremely challenged.

-Brittany Mabe

3. What are some of the challenging aspects? 
ALL OF IT. I could leave it at that, but essentially every part is hard. In essence, if you're considering foster care or adoption to meet your own needs, you are going to be sorely disappointed and extremely challenged. Nothing about this is about you. You are going to pour into these children night and day, and then you are going to give them back to their families despite what you think or believe is best which is ultimately a test of your faith in God's sovereignty. 

Your faith will be challenged, your character, your marriage - everything! But you will taste and see that the Lord is good.

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4. How can the church support you? 
Oh man, the church is so amazing! We have had numerous people step in at just the right moment, bringing a dinner, dropping off clothes, praying for us... I think just asking the question, "How can we support you guys?" is a great way to open the door. 

One thing that I would caution against is to ask questions about the kids' scenarios like, "Where is his/her mom?" and "Are you going to adoption him/her?" There are many things that as foster parents we are not at liberty to share, nor do we want to comprise our kids trust and stories. 

Probably the best way that we have been supported is through faithful prayer. There were some seasons that I literally did not think I could make it through mentally, and the prayers of the saints carried me. 



5. What advice would you give others, who are interested in pursuing adoption or foster care? 

As mentioned earlier, I think the best advice that I can give you is to walk into this journey with your eyes wide open to what the Lord is doing and is calling you towards. Keep your eyes on Him, and not what you think you want or what you think is best. He is the ultimate story teller and despite what you know or see, He is sovereign. Ask Him to open the doors and just show you the very next step that you need to take. If you go into this with your goal being to know Him more, than you cannot lose!

The Visser Story

1. What led you to begin the adoption/foster care process? 

       The big answer - The Lord. The practical answer - Infertility. We knew we wanted more children, and we weren't getting pregnant again, so we decided to proceed down the adoption route. We had friends who were foster parents and encouraged us to choose that route. I was scared to death when we started, but now I am so thankful that the Lord brought us down this road. 


2. What is the greatest blessing from your experience? 

     Too many to list! Probably the biggest is getting to love on these precious children, and learning that my life is not about me. The most unexpected is how our journey impacts others. We have had many opportunities to share Christ with people simply because of the platform of foster care and adoption. Also, I have had the privilege of seeing the Lord work in my life and my family's life because of this journey.


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3. What are some of the challenging aspects? 

     Also too many to list! My schedule is not my own. The department of human services tells me all the many (many!!) appointments/visits/meetings I need to fit into my schedule, and I am often not given much choice in the matter.

It's super inconvenient, and everything is across town from my house, so LOTS of driving. Also, saying goodbye is just as hard as I had feared it would be, but I've also been able to experience firsthand the Lord's healing because of my heartbreak.

My kids have behaviors and challenges that other children don't, and it often makes me feel like a bad mom because of it. I don't think others usually are judging me, but it's hard anyway. We are extremely limited on discipline techniques, which can be super frustrating. 


4. How can the church support you? 

     *Respite nights with free childcare, meals when I get a new placement (just like when someone has a new biological baby, we should get a meal train too!),

*Trauma informed Sunday school workers/babysitters,

*People to offer to help with transportation and babysitting during the first month of a placement (many many many appointments in the first month),

*Trusted friends who are safe to cry to!


5. What advice would you give others, who are interested in pursuing adoption or foster care? 

     Everything you are afraid of happening is real and probably will happen, but it's worth it anyway. The Lord is bigger than your fears, He will sustain when you have nothing left to give, and He will heal when you are broken. 


THE ROSEN STORY

1. What led you to begin the adoption/foster care process?

My sister lived in Africa for five years and was a foster care parent. During that time we fell in love with the children that she fostered during our Skype conversations. We felt like God had given us a heart for adoption.

2. What is the greatest blessing from your experience?

Probably the greatest blessing in our adoption journey has been the opportunity to love outside of our comfort zone. It’s been a joy to open our hearts and home to more children and learn from them and their story.

3. What are some of the challenging aspects?

Some challenges have been having to learn how to parent a new way.  It’s not the same having adopted children and so you can’t parent the same.

4. How can the church support you?

I think the greatest support is prayer and then offering to watch the kids while the parents and /or biological children get to do something together.  Adoption isn’t just new life but also a death to what was. That can affect the biological children and so it’s important to make sure they understand that while one season may be finished another beautiful season awaits.

5. What advice would you give others, who are interested in pursuing adoption or foster care?

I would say to not adopt because you think it would be a good idea but do it because God has called you to it.   There are many amazing aspects to adoption but the commitment is the most important part.  Feelings come and go but the commitment will keep you going!

THE SALEM STORY

1. What led you to begin the adoption/foster care process?

When we adopted out first daughter from China in 2006 we visited an orphanage for special needs children.  It totally broke our hearts!  We got in the taxi to go back to the hotel later that day and through our tears we gave God a promise....that if He ever called us again, our answer would be yes! That prayer changed our lives forever. 

2. What is the greatest blessing from your experience?

People tell us all the time that our adopted children are so fortunate to be here.  And I guess that's true.  A few of them would not be alive today had they not been adopted by us or another family. But the ultimate blessing has been for US.  They have taught us so much about what truly matters in life. They have taught us to slow down and appreciate each day as a gift.  And they have taught us to rejoice in the things that we so often take for granted. 

3. What are some of the challenging aspects?

Raising six children who have special needs means that each day can definitely have new challenges. And they do! No day is ever the same and issues crop up all the time. Some days it feels like every day presents some kind of challenge. But we have learned along the journey that God's grace is enough for us--He is present in every circumstance and in every trial we face with our children. His grace meets us right in the middle of the challenge. We have actually learned to just embrace the difficult days and trust that something good will always come out of it...because it always, always does.

4. How can the church support you?

Sadly, church has been our greatest heartache and challenge in raising our family. Over the years we have been involved with a few churches and have always struggled to find a place to call home. The church simply has not known how to care for our family. They have not known how to reach out, provide child care or just come alongside us. We understand! The church in general is just not equipped to care for those who have special needs.  It's been a lonely journey and at times the isolation has felt heartbreaking. Thankfully, this year we did find a church who has gone out of their way to love us and provide the care that each one of our special needs children needs.  For that, we are so grateful. To answer your question, I would say that the greatest way that the Church can support families like ours is to find tangible ways to help...especially when it comes to parents being able to sit in church together while their child is taken care of. So many special needs families no longer even go to church because they can't find a place where their family is supported.  This breaks my heart. 

5. What advice would you give others, who are interested in pursuing adoption or foster care?

Stand with arms and hearts wide open.  Go into it with realistic expectations--being fully prepared for the journey to be hard and stretching. But even in the hard and the challenging, God shows Himself faithful and true. 


The Harms Family Story

1. What led you to begin the adoption/foster care process? 

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   After Regina and I had been married for several years, we really began gaining a heart for children and for orphans. After we had been thinking about adoption for some time, we began looking into different options. Initially, our heart and mind was to pursue international adoption, however, we found that we were too young to adopt from most foreign countries. Also, we discovered that there was a massive push to stop international adoption in general, mostly coming from an organization called UNICEF. Due to these factors, we eventually began entertaining the idea of domestic infant adoption. This too was met with some roadblocks.

 While we were at a discipleship school in Colorado, in 2013, a girl approached us and mentioned that her friend from back home was 16 and pregnant, and alluded to the fact that we should pursue adopting her baby. At this point we were seriously beginning to be ready to actually step in and commit to adoption. For whatever reason, nothing came of this venture. The baby was adopted by somebody else, which is still fortunate. We also heard of another baby that was up for adoption, and began praying about possibly being her parents. Since we were not licensed or anything, there was no way to pursue this little baby girl that we had been praying about. 

   A month or so later, one Sunday morning, we listened to a bold message about "The Battle Over Adoption". Our hearts were deeply stirred like never before; we were praying about what this meant for us. The next day, we went to a foster/adoption information meeting at a church. The church was huge, with lots of rooms and hallways and stairs and such, but the room that the meeting took place in was tiny. There were only a handful of people at the meeting, there was no mention of God or the Gospel at all, and there was an overt negativity expressed in regards to the whole idea of international adoption.

  At this point, we were invigorated more than ever, and ready to dive in. The next day, in the summer of 2013, we made the decision to pursue foster care, whatever that would look like. We would finish our year in Colorado, and begin the process of becoming licensed foster parents in the beginning of 2014. And that's what we did! And God has been so incredibly gracious and merciful to us in the entire process. We have had 4 children placed with us, and we have adopted three of those little ones as our own. God is good!

2. What is the greatest blessing from your experience? 

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   One of the number one blessings for us is knowing that these are God's children, this God's work, and God's cause. It is a tremendous privilege to be these little one's Daddy and Mommy. We truly believe that this is life-changing, world-altering, history-shaping work! And God is in this work, and this is His heart. The entire Gospel is about adoption, and we are thrilled to be partners with God in this calling and work.

3. What are some of the challenging aspects? 

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    Foster care specifically has its own challenges, aside from the general adoption difficulties. Having the state directing you, watching over your shoulder, and being so involved in your lives and home is difficult indeed. That would probably be on the top of our list of difficulties. There are other things too, such as children that have been neglected, where they need extra intentional love, affection, guidance, direction, and interaction. 

4. How can the church support you? 

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     One of the greatest ways our church has supported us is that they have openly and warmly welcomed and accepted our children. They have prayed for us, they brought us meals after we received new placements, brought gifts for the children, others committed to prayer on our behalf, some gave us gift cards, and when we consummated our adoptions, we had a courtroom full of friends celebrating with us. Prayer is definitely the most powerful support, acceptance is huge, and also speaking words of encouragement. Being able to have a place where we could share some of our struggles so that others could feel with us was important too.

5. What advice would you give others, who are interested in pursuing adoption or foster care?

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    Just take the next step. Remember that there is a battle raging, and children, namely orphans, are caught up in the middle of it. They are vulnerable. Raising children, doing foster-care, and adopting orphans is spiritual warfare. The enemy is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus is seeking to give these little ones abundant life. We are the hands and feet of Christ, so we need to be extending His abundant life to others. Surround yourself with a strong support system, and don't forget that it is not more holy or spiritual to do things "on your own". Accept the help that God gives through other people.