The June 2013 issue of Home Life magazine includes an interview with Jason and me, written eloquently by my friend and former co-worker, Lindsay Williams. She had the foresight (or it was a God-timing-thing) to interview us as we were preparing to reopen our home as foster parents earlier this spring. If she had waited a few months later, to when Buzz arrived, I’m pretty sure our brains would have been too scrambled to make any good sense. As it is, I read the article when it came out months after our interview and my scrambled egg brain said, “Wow? Did I say that?! We really sound like we know what the heck we’re doing and why!” In my exhausted-chaotic-new-foster-placement mental state, I actually encouraged myself. I didn’t know that was possible.
The article is good and you should read it—not because we’re so smart, but because Lindsay made us sound so smart. She’s good!
Here are some of our original answers:
What prompted you to begin the process of becoming certified foster parents?
Martina: We had talked a few times about adopting “someday” but imagined it would be later in our lives when we were already seasoned parents. When we finally felt like we were ready to think about having kids (after being married 8 years…we married young!), I started researching adoption just out of curiosity. I looked at international adoption first but then found myself learning how the US foster care system works. I didn’t realized that there are no orphanages in this country; kids who are waiting to be adopted are usually in state custody, either at a foster home or in a group home setting. Long story short, God turned my curious searching into a growing passion and before we knew what hit us, we were crying over dinner and ready to take the first step toward becoming foster parents.
Fostering is a totally different experience than becoming a biological parent. How do you mentally and spiritually prepare yourself to be a foster mom/dad?
Jason: Fostering is very different from having children biologically, but this is a situational difference. The care, love, discipline, and commitment are often the same if not more necessary with a foster child who has a deficit in these areas. I would say, the single most important thing you can do for a foster child is love them like they were yours biologically. This is important even if they leave or you have knowledge that they will be leaving. These kids need the things that a healthy family can provide while their biological family gets life back on track. To give the kids anything less would be even more detrimental to their childhood. Needless to say, fostering is not a calling to take lightly. It requires everything you have, and a broken heart sometimes. That is the consequence of sacrificial love. It’s a requirement.
Martina: I think the biggest difference is the time to prepare. Biological parents have 9 months and a due date. We can take as much time as we want to prepare our home, our hearts, our minds but the “due date” is a complete surprise. It seemed just like any other day as we’re sitting down to dinner and then BAM—we got a phone call asking if we could take a placement of a 2-month-old little girl. An hour later, she was at our home and we were instant parents, again. That little girl is now almost 2 years old and was officially adopted into our family last August.
How has your home become a place of ministry by taking in foster kids and now raising Ali as your own? Are there specific things you do in your home to make sure God has a presence in your house?
Martina: I’m reminded often of my shortcomings and inadequacy as a mom, but I try not to let that get me down. When I am weak, I know that God is strong. I know that God is mighty and able. He’s a good Father and He’s the one that equips me. He will not lead us into a challenge and then abandon us—He provides what we need each step of the way. To keep that perspective going, I try to spend time with God every morning while the rest of the household is still asleep and I welcome His presence into our home everyday. While we have an empty bedroom I also spend time in there most days praying for the kid(s) who will be there someday—for their safety now, for protection around their hearts, for preparation for them and for us for the time we’ll be together, for wisdom on how to love and serve them as a mom for as long as I have the chance, that they will come to know and experience Jesus in a mighty way.
What would your advice be to someone considering becoming a foster parent?
Martina: Connect with other foster parents however you can to get a realistic picture. Blogs, podcasts and email were my source because I didn’t know any other foster parents when we started out. If your life feels chaotic and out of control already, I don’t recommend becoming a foster parent. Most of all, pray and seek the Lord’s guiding for your family. Don’t be afraid to call an agency today for more information. There is a huge need for more foster parents in the US and over 100,000 kids currently waiting to be adopted out of foster care.
Jason: Foster Parenting is really a desire that comes from a calling on us to affect the culture. Christians need to understand that if we’re going to make a significant impact, we also need to extend Christ’s love to the children. For better or worse, our government understands it starts with kids. So did countless dictators and revolutionaries. That’s the negative side, but we can make a serious change for our future generations by sowing into children. Want to see a change in our culture as it pertains to drug use? Teenage pregnancy? Murder? Incarceration? Invest in a child.