By year nine of our marriage, my husband, Brian, and I had settled down in Huntsville, Alabama, and were more than ready to start our family. Negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test had been thrown away. That year, our church family prayed for us on National Right to Life Day. And on that day, I read a paper I had written about my own infertility. I wept and wept. I had no idea barrenness was affecting me so deeply.

Soon after, our friends were going to do a 10-week foster care class, and we had a day to decide if we would do it too. We decided to join them, and every week of that class my husband and I left wondering what we were getting ourselves into. We knew very little but had decided to move forward with foster care only if it led to adoption.

We got our first phone call about a year from when we started the classes. They had a 3-year-old boy and a newborn. We said yes, and then wondered how we would go from having nothing for these children to having everything we needed overnight. But God did just that through many in our neighborhood, church and co-workers.

We were sitting in the living room with friends waiting to get the pick-up call when the phone rang. The boys were going somewhere else. We were devastated. The next call was for infant twins. Once again, we scurried to get ready only to not get the placement. We desperately wanted to be parents, but it kept falling through again and again.

Just a While 

In March of 2010, we got a phone call from the Department of Human Resources (DHR) asking if we could take an 18-month-old girl. They told us we would have her for a few months, and then she would be returning to her birth family. We needed to leave home within the hour to pick her up. I convinced my husband we could take good care of that little girl, and then she could go home. We prayed we would love and care for her, be all in, and that God would protect our hearts. Then I left to go pick her up.

Even with the challenges, I do love how quickly life can change when you do foster care.

On the drive there I was excited, scared to death, and could not believe it was happening. When I walked in the building, I saw a little girl throwing a fit, and I thought she had to be our little girl. After a strange and disorganized time meeting her birth family and gathering a little bit of information on her, I loaded L into my car, took a picture to send to my husband, and drove home. I knew in that moment our previously discussed plan to just take good care of her and then let her go home was a long shot.

I was in love.

After we got L, I thought, “How does anyone ever have more than one child?” It was so much work, and it never stopped. However, within two months we started thinking we were ready for our next child. Shortly after that, DHR called with our second child, a sweet, 7-day-old baby girl, B. My husband and I picked her up from another foster family in the Target parking lot. When I first looked at that sweet bundle of joy, again it was love at first sight. Brian and I couldn’t believe they were letting us take her home. I was nervous until I saw her, then it just seemed natural.

We had B a week short of a year.

In the days preceding her leaving, I felt like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asking if there could be another way and dreading what was about to happen. Brian and I drove her to the airport in the dark of the early morning, the Monday after Mother’s Day. We took a few last pictures, handed her to the caseworker, and walked away. I cried so hard as we walked through the airport. When we got to the parking garage, Brian and I held each other and sobbed. Brian spent the next couple of days in bed, and I worried we would never heal from the devastating loss.

Gather No More

The week before sending B to her biological family, Brian was out of country on a mission trip, and he left me with explicit instructions to not gather any more chicks under my wing while he was gone. But I got the call for C. DHR needed a placement for him that very day, and with Brian’s instructions echoing in my ear, I had 15 minutes to decide whether we would take him or not. I desperately called and texted Brian to no avail. Then I called two of his best friends to get advice. They both told me Brian would tell me to go get him.

So that’s exactly what I did.

He came to us in a stained girl’s t-shirt. He was stinky and broken. When we got home, I cried with him for his birth mom. Finally, I decided that I would not treat C like a victim. I got both of us up, and we headed to give him a bath. It was a very hard transition for us, mainly because we were grieving the loss of B. Very quickly though, he became ours.

By year 12 of our marriage, we had four foster kids and our first positive pregnancy test. Remembering that positive result, even today I can’t put into words how I felt. We were so elated and so scared at the same time. We were so grateful and graciously accepted the Lord was giving us five children. We told everyone.

However, one week later, I had my first miscarriage. I remember laying in bed, feeling so angry at God, accusing Him of being mean and untrustworthy. Brian quietly reminded me of the Father’s love for me and of His character.

I still do not know why God allowed it to happen. Patience in the midst of not knowing is one of the hardest things I will ever have to do. My prayers are sometimes filled with desperation and sometimes filled with faith.

Adoption at Last 

We went on to have a few more placements, with each one eventually being returned to their birth families. But in 2012, after years being her foster parents, L became forever ours. We threw a huge party celebrating the adoption of our first child. She is pure joy to us. She is funny and is constantly giving me hysterical quotes and situations to share on social media.

In 2013, we adopted C. He has gone from being a shy, moody guy to a funny, confident (sometimes still moody) little man. We had a small party, which better suited him, to celebrate his adoption.

In August of 2013, Brian and I discussed and prayed about adopting one more child from foster care. Two days later, we got the call from DHR about an 8-week-old girl. Once again, Brian said, “Go get her.” On the way there, I was so excited to be getting our next little one. As I expected, this girl won our hearts. I constantly prayed Jesus would not destroy me through it all.

The very next July, I cried and tried to hold in my loud sobs as I strapped her into a car seat that was too small, and the caseworker took her away. Psalms 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” The week we had to let her go, God was so near to us. Without His peace and our faith community, we would surely have been crushed.

Thankful for All 

I have thanked God for infertility many times. Without it, I would not have taken this road on my own. He has taught me to trust Him with my life, heart and emotions. The only place my dreams are safe is in His loving hands. I have cuddled in bed with my little ones and have been so thankful for the beautiful family God has given me. I could not have planned it out better myself.

Our family is not finished. We know God is moving and sometimes the unknown feels big. I am reminded of Job 13:15. “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” Some days I feel if I have to give up another baby, the grief will smother me. But quickly, the Lord brings me back to a place of surrender and hope, reminding me that this is His beautiful path for me. God rescues the orphan and He rescues the barren.