I passionately believe loving children shouldn’t come with the caveat that you get to ‘keep’ them.

I’ll always lay it all out there because #ImpressingIsExhausting and I am freed from the burden of what others think of me. So, let’s dive in.

With our first little loves, I allowed our attachment to blind me to a ton of mistakes I was making… with them, their mama, my posts online and more. I had good intentions, but unfortunately intentions are irrelevant if the actions behind them are harmful. This is why the pursuit of awareness, feedback and self-growth are so vital to our existence.

I always try to own my junk and ask for forgiveness where I’ve gone wrong, so you should know my journey with foster care has involved numerous accounts of swallowing my pride, hard discussions, private and public apologies, and receiving grace along the way.

E and I are foster parents to help kids return home.

We have taken in more than 10 “little” loves since October 2017. The best part is all, except for two, of them have been able to reunite with their parents or a relative. Even better, we are still in touch with nearly all of them.

Is it hard? Absolutely.

Transitioning constantly (usually overnight) is rough. Saying ‘see ya soon’ after all the adjusting and investing does not feel good. Combating trauma requires more patience than I have. Loving our children’s entire family, not just their cute selves, used to be my biggest challenge. I still struggle with judgement.

But, I know I was made for this. In fact, I think it’s truly part of God’s divine plan for my life. It has taught me so much about my pride, selfishness, sacrifice and more. It has made me more aware, curious, and compassionate. It has revealed my sin and need for Jesus, who I often see looking back at me with grace in the eyes of my children’s mothers.

Having experienced motherhood throughout these last (almost) two years, I now long for it. When we don’t have a child in our care, life is so much easier, but something definitely feels like it’s missing. A part of me feels wasted.

Because of incidents in my childhood and a strong call from the Holy Spirit, I always knew motherhood would come for me through foster care and maybe adoption. But, adoption hasn’t happened for us yet, and now I’m not so sure when or if it will.

I’ve been studying, reading, praying and meeting up with people who have adopted domestically and internationally, as well as a few who adopted their foster children. Much of my findings are wrecking me.

I learned that a good portion* of the adoption world is corrupt [which we will get into further below] and even people with the best of intentions are unknowingly participating in something they probably would want nothing to do with if they truly saw the whole picture.

*Not ALL. Hear me say this loud and clear, please.

Some birthmothers are manipulated and paid off. Some children are falsely labeled orphans when they are not. In fact, they have a parent (if not both parents), but these families are often taken advantage of due to poverty. In short, children are being used as a means for currency and it’s disgusting.

You cannot unlearn what you learn. You cannot unsee what you’ve seen. With new awareness comes new responsibility.

Instead of taking other people’s children, believing we’re “saving” them, why are we not focused on family preservation and tackling poverty?

I think… because a.) money. and b.) oblivion.

Stay with me, friend. I am not saying adoption across the board is bad.

I asked my friend Hannah from Kindred + Co, who adopted her two beautiful girls domestically, about her experience with adoption and the conversation was far too long and complex to repeat it all here, but one nugget of wisdom I cannot leave out: ethical adoptions are possible.

This is why we need to do our research, read books, dig for truth and then, listen. Listen to those who have gone before us. In this case, listen to those who have adopted, those who have been adopted, and maybe the most important of all, birth mothers who are placing their child(ren).

Ethical adoptions are possible, but there is so much to consider. Adoption is not black and white. No single blog post is able to capture it all and accurately sum it up, so that is not my goal here. My hope is to openly share my heart and my learnings. My goal is to prompt you to further educate yourself as I continue doing the same.

One of the questions I kept asking myself: What’s a person to do if they are unable to have children and really want to be a parent? Or an LGBTQ couple who cannot produce one biologically, but really want a child?

The best answers I came up with: Those people could pursue an ethical adoption. They could also consider foster care.

Foster care is not a perfect system by any means, but when a child comes into care, you can rest assured there is a reason why; a real need. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ve been duped or if a family is being torn apart on someone’s schemes to get rich. A child will only come into care once a family, who is suspected of neglect or abuse, is investigated and substantial evidence is found. I can only speak for the state of Illinois where I am a foster parent, but whenever possible, before a child is removed from his/her family, DCFS Intact Services provide in-home services designed to prevent children from entering the foster care system.

For some families who are indicated for abuse or neglect, keeping the child at home is in their best interest. Our family preservation team ensures children’s immediate and ongoing safety while collaborating with caregivers and DCFS to resolve issues at home and prevent future harm.

Kaleidoscope 4 Kids, Regarding Intact Services

With foster care, I’ve witnessed a strong prioritization of keeping families together firsthand. If a child needs a forever home and you’re fostering him/her, then you will be the first asked to adopt him/her. This option will only present itself after every effort is made to reunite the child with his/her parents. Adoption this way is free of charge and normally remains open, so the child doesn’t lose contact with his/her biological family. Going this route also means you have time to bond with the child and more naturally progress from strangers to family. However, going this route is the most risky because there is no guarantee that you will get to adopt. After all, we have had over 10 children come through our care and none have stayed permanently.

But I’ll say it again, loving children shouldn’t come with the caveat that you get to ‘keep’ them.

There are thousands of children right here in the U.S. who need safe homes while their parents get help and heal. There are thousands of mommy’s and daddy’s experiencing poverty all over the world who we could partner with to see them freed instead of just taking their child away for good.

If I were experiencing poverty, I wouldn’t want someone to “help” me by taking my child from me if instead they could help me gain financial stability.

If I were neglecting or abusing my child, I wouldn’t want someone to “help” me by offering to adopt my child if instead they were willing to offer me grace and care for my child well while I get help and heal.

It’s not as simple as it sounds, of course. There are exceptions to every scenario, of course. Let me be real honest – it sure as hell means investing a lot more than I am normally willing to invest. It’s a love so sacrificial, so selfless, so grace-forward… the kind of love that brings heaven to earth.

It means doing for others in a way they could never return the favor, but isn’t that what I am created to do? Love others and treat them as I want to be treated. Gah, why does it have to be so dang “simple” and oh so hard?! I screw this up on the daily, but I’ll spend my whole life trying to get better at it.

Will you do the same?

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Manda's weekly letters on faith, marriage, motherhood, soul care, social justice - and occasionally the collision of it all. 

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