It’s funny how God leads you places you never envisioned going. What started as a journey for international adoption took a very unexpected turn. Caleb and I have both had a heart for adoption since we were young. Neither of us can exactly remember how it started, but Caleb’s passion really became apparent when he traveled to Uganda the summer after law school. He had the opportunity to visit with children in an orphanage and knew that one day he wanted to bring one home. While we might actually end up adopting from Africa one day, God had other plans in store for us.
When we began talking about starting a family, we had planned to begin the adoption journey sooner rather than later. We both worried that if we waited until after we had biological children, we would find a million excuses not to adopt — even though that was clearly a calling for us. So, we met with people who had adopted. We read books and blogs and really just prayed about what it looked like for us.
At a Q&A session with 200 Million Flowers, God began clarifying His will for us. We still had not decided if we wanted to adopt internationally or domestically, but the more we prayed about it, the more we were led to domestic adoption. We live in Jackson, close to the downtown area — and we love our city and the people in it. God gave us a strong desire to adopt a child from right where we were. We signed up with 200 Million Flowers for an infant adoption and began our home study.
Once again, God changed our expectations. We thought at first we’d be adopting a toddler, but God kept telling us that we needed an older child. It was really like God kept stretching us to go further, face our fears and rest in the fact that He had our backs. We could tell that we were being called to something, but we were maybe stopping short for comfort’s sake.
While waiting on our home study and a birth mom, we met and talked with people involved in adoption, and foster care kept coming up. Initially, we both said, “No way! We could never do that.” “Can you imagine giving up a child after it comes to live with you?” “Who knows what kind of child might come to live with us?!” But God was persistent.
So, we intentionally prayed about foster care more and more, and, as we said, it’s funny how God can change your plans. Finally, we both felt like we were supposed to pursue it instead of adoption. We still want to adopt a child or children eventually and are hopeful that foster care might even lead to adoption one day, but the more we learned about the desperate need for foster families and how foster care works, we just knew that was our calling.
We signed up to become foster parents through the Department of Human Services. The very day we were licensed, we received a call at 2 a.m. about a four-year-old little boy, who stayed with us for a week. We later got to bring the sweetest little baby girl home from the hospital for three days. It was pretty powerful to bring a newborn baby out of the hospital into the fresh air and sunshine for the very first time! Right after that, we took in a one- and two-year-old brother and sister. They’ve been with us for a year now, and they will likely go back home in the spring.
Foster care has been the most rewarding — and challenging — thing we have ever done. Words can't really describe the ups and downs we've had or all of the fears, failures and successes that seem to tumble together. But we know without a doubt we are following the path that God has put us on, and there is great comfort in that. Before we started, our lives were meaningful in many ways, but too often it was all about us and the present moment. We didn’t give nearly enough thought to the Kingdom of God and how we could serve others. No matter the struggles we face in caring for these children, we know we’re following God, and that gives us a lot of peace.
Foster care is about God’s glory in serving these children. To watch them blossom and reach milestones and learn about their Savior reminds us that we’re following God, and that gives us a lot of peace.
We've really been loved on by our small group, and they’re such a huge part of our foster care journey just by supporting us. They babysit, bring us meals, pray for us and over us. They have been crucial. In foster care, we have needed that support system of Christ followers who may not be called as foster parents themselves, but who eagerly and lovingly care for us while we open our home to these precious children. Their role is vital and just as important as ours in so many ways.
We’re often asked how we could let these children go, especially if they're going back into a “bad” situation. And we do not have that answer. It can be absolutely terrifying to think about them leaving because we are so attached to each other. We care so deeply about them. Selfishly, we want to keep these babies — we have helped raise them, and they call us “Mommy and Daddy.”
But I am confident that God put us in this position for a reason, and He will carry us through the hard times that will inevitably come. He called us to foster care for a specific purpose, and He knows what the road ahead looks like through all the twists. He has shown us such love and compassion and taught us to lean on Him. The littlest victories in His name are so powerful and awesome.
Ultimately, foster care isn't about our pain, but rather His glory in serving these children. To watch them blossom and reach milestones and learn about their Savior is worth every heartbreak and every ounce of pain we could ever encounter.
God took us where we never imagined. It has not always been easy, and we are learning a lot about ourselves and our marriage (the good, the bad and the ugly). But we can say without a doubt that it has been the most rewarding thing we have ever done.
— Caleb and Abbie Koonce, Pinelake Reservoir