A story by Joy DeLaere
I would never have guessed that the words, infertility, cancer, bio-mom, foster mom, adoptive mom or grief would be a part of my life’s story and journey as a mom.
Just a couple years into our marriage, my husband Jim was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He was cured, but became impossible for us to get pregnant in the “traditional“ way. We entered into the challenges and adventures of with working with fertility doctors—it was scary, difficult, discouraging, and painful. Through the process of IVF, we were able to become pregnant and have two biological children.
Our struggle with infertility connected me with many others on a similar journey. Sometimes my greatest heartache has been for those that I have journeyed with, and still journey with, that have yet to be able to experience pregnancy and who now bear a deep hole in their heart.
The journey led me to a good friend who was exploring adoption after several miscarriages, and as I sat with her in a foster care workshop, my heart was convicted and a passion was ignited.
Shortly thereafter, Jim and I completed the necessary paperwork to be a host family with Safe Families and licensed foster parents with DCSF. By the time we completed training, our children Lillian and Lincoln were toddlers, and we found ourselves in another unchartered territory – fact is, all parenting is uncharted territory.
Our first call from Safe Families was for a sibling group of four. We lived in a 900 square-foot house with one bathroom, but we opened our home to those precious kids, and our family doubled overnight. In those first few weeks of our first placement, we were stretched to expand our capacity to love and to learn; and humbled as we had to ask for help on many levels.
Our first official foster placement was a sibling group of 2 where we were catapulted into a world of middle and high-school schedules with all the drama and tragedy that follows. We loved them deeply and embraced them as our own. Our hearts broke as they chose paths we longed to see them avoid and we learned the practice of surrender is both painful and deliberate.
The journey of opening my heart and life to love children not born of my womb has made it blatantly clear that I need to grow in my dependence on Christ. I have learned how He longs for us to choose Him and love Him, and watches with an aching heart as we often choose our own path.
Choosing to be a foster parent is an adventure, but it has truly been one of the most spiritually transformative tools God has used to bring me face-to-face with my pride and my sin. We have seen some of our placements end abruptly, some transition beautifully, and even had the opportunity to adopt two daughters to our family from a Safe Family placement. Through each season, I have learned and am still learning to release control—what I had was only an illusion of control.
I have learned to lay down my pride, as I realized having my adoptive daughter call me mom was more about my pride rather than what she needs. I’ve had to embrace my failure when I make mistakes. The grief I experience when I think about the trauma that many of our children have had to endure is sometimes enough to almost knocked the wind out of me, and in these moments I am reminded of how this grief connects me to God‘s heart and to His love. The joy that I experience in the midst of this grief is a deep and everlasting joy that will carry over into eternity.
I would never have guessed this would be my journey of motherhood, but deep in the beautiful mess of it all, there is nowhere else I would rather be.
This scripture is one that often anchors me and helps shift my perspective back to where it matters most.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—
a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.”
Psalm 84:1-5, 10, 12 NIV
Joy and Jim first began hosting children through Safe Families. Learn more about Safe Families here.
Celebrate Mom at Willow Creek this weekend, May 12/13! Learn more here.