I've learned so many things since becoming a social worker... and I still feel like there is so much to learn! I'm continualy fascinated by resilience, strength and the one thing that I don't think I'll ever grow tired of is seeing all the various ways that families are created.
I, myself feel as though I have many "families"! I have lived FAR away from my parents and siblings since my sophmore year of college. I was in school in Chicago and my parents moved to Texas! Despite how close I am with my Mom especially, I never even thought about moving closer to them. My siblings live in Ohio and California. And my grandparents have all lived in Louisiana my whole life - we are all spread out! So, I have my "family of choice" here in IL - good friends who have "adopted" me into their lives. I often have to run around on major holidays to get to all of them. My best friend's mom buys me Christmas presents even! I am so blessed!
All of this was brought to the forfront today in church. I was invited to come to Angel and Rocker's church today because Angel was being baptized!! Again - I'm so thrilled to support her as she grows - physically, emotionally, and spiritually! I've been to their church a number of times and always enjoy it. (I do have my own church but moved recently and its kind of a hike!) Today was extra exciting due to Angel's baptism - and it was "Family Sunday"! The focus was on all kinds of families and also had a focus on adoption. A number of people came forward to tell the stories of how their families were formed. Here's one story that inspired me:
One family - I'll call them the "Hughes" had been struggling with infertility for about 3 years. After some careful consideration, they began to pray that God would open their hearts to growing their family through another means - such as adoption. They were not yet convinced that this was the best choice for them. Also, at the same time, another family named the "Robinsons" were contemplating increasing their family. The Robinsons had already been blessed for 4 beautiful little girls! But something was telling Ms. Robinson that they weren't done yet. They also began praying about the possibility of adopting - they were considering international adoption from China. As all these prayers floated up to Heaven - I am positive that God was orchastrating an amazing plan!
The Hughes decided to tryout a form of foster care that is relatively new in Illinois - its called "Safe Families". (I hadn't ever even heard of it before!) It is a program that attempts to prevent children and their families from coming into the actual foster care system by providing an alternative PRIOR to a crisis leading to abuse or neglect. Safe Families are identified, trained, and then accept the child(ren) for anywhere between 24 hours and 3 months. The Hughes thought this would be a great way to see how they felt about having non-biological children in their home. They were a "safe family" for about 6-7 kids over a period of a year! Then, Sam was placed with them - he was 2 months old. After a couple of months it seemed as if Sam may not be going back to his parents. The Hughes began to pray about the possibility of adopting him. Two weeks later - they found out they were pregnant! Now, they had an even harder decision to make! Could they handle two babies under a year old? Were they ready to make that step? It was right about now that God intervened!
Ms. Hughes was dropping Sam off prior to service one Sunday when Ms. Robinson was in charge at the church nursery. Ms. Robinson remarked that there seemed to be a number of names on the Hughes nursery registration card - Ms. Hughes explained that they'd had a number of children in their home that year! Ms. Robinson was intrigued and she inquired if Sam was a short or long-term placement. Ms. Hughes explained their situation and that they'd been praying about adopting Sam but that they just were not sure they were ready. Ms. Robinson shared that they had been praying about adoption as well. In that moment - it clicked for both of them that God may have just revealed his answer to their combined prayers.
Ms. Robinson recounted how she asked to hold Sam and immediately asked her oldest daughter to go pull her husband and other 3 girls out of the service!! Less than 3 weeks later, Sam came to live with the Robinson family for good. The Hughes still remain involved in his life, as does his birth family who eventually signed over their rights voluntarily to the Robinson family. What an amazing journey! And how wonderful is it that little Sam will have all of these people in his life to care and continually love him? I am a big believer in Open Adoption whenever it is possible. I don't thnk a child can ever have too many people to love them!
So, long story short (or maybe short story made longer??) is that I am constantly amazed at the way families are created! In fact, its made me decide to try to tell one of the most amazing family stories with which I've been involved. Stay tuned for the story of Zari!