When I think about the greatest gifts in my life, with every single one there has always been an element of the unknown and a need for me to be open enough to it to say yes. Sometimes the gifts I’ve received are unexpected. Sometimes I’ve been hesitant to take them because I didn’t feel they were deserved, and sometimes they are things I didn’t even know I wanted or needed, but proved to be useful as I learned how to embrace whatever that gift was. Gifts and surprises go hand in hand, and as someone who is a recovering control freak, surprises aren’t always easy for me to be excited about, and gifts aren’t always easy for me to accept.
All of these things are true for me when speaking of gifts from others, as well as when speaking of gifts from God. Over the years it has been easier and easier to embrace the unknown tied to gifts from God because He has proven over and over again that He is a good Father who gives good gifts, even when the gift He gives me comes in a form I wasn’t expecting. The greatest example of this in my life has been the gift of motherhood and all that has entailed in my life.
i always imagined...
Like many girls, I played with dolls and pretended to be a mom from a very young age. My love for children and desire to be a mom started so long ago, that I honestly don’t remember a time when that wasn’t a desire of mine. I worked at daycares and as a nanny in addition to being the main babysitter for a number of families throughout my teenage years. After my husband and I got married, we struggled with infertility. I always imagined that it would be easy to become a mom and when it wasn’t it shook my faith to the core. I felt like God failed me. I felt like the desire He put in me to be a mom was cruel if He wasn’t going to fulfill that desire. It was a very difficult, dark time for me.
inviting me to trust Him...
As I pleaded with God to give me this one thing I’ve always wanted, He started softening my heart toward pursuing foster care. Foster care was always something my husband and I had talked about doing, but it was always with the intention of doing it after we had our own biological children. As God kept inviting me to trust Him and pursue it earlier, my resistance dwindled, and my desire to be a foster parent grew. As we were getting licensed, my heart became more and more focused on being a temporary safe place for kids who needed us. It became less and less about building our own family and more about what we could do to help other families rebuild.
Our first placement was a perfect, beautiful baby we picked up from the hospital at 3 days old. That beautiful baby awakened all the things I expected motherhood to awaken in me. Things like unconditional love for a new little person, a heart to nurture, connection, the pride that comes with the title “mom” and so much more. When we found out she would be leaving us at 3 months old to live with a relative, I was completely gutted. I knew she wasn’t mine and I was so happy that she was going to someone who loved her deeply, but I wasn’t sure if I could adjust to being a childless mother after having that small taste of motherhood. I poured out all of these feelings and fears to God and felt Him once again inviting me to trust Him.
As I chose to trust Him, I started praying for the next kids who would come into our home. We also decided that we would change our foster care license so we could foster two children instead of just one. Little did I know that 11 days after she left us, two little boys would be born who would eventually become my sons.
It was two and half months later that we got a call for twin baby boys. We said yes and became parents of two. Throughout their time in foster care, compassion for their mother grew as I built a relationship with her. I was given the gift of seeing her through the eyes of a Father who loves her as well as the gift of being a support for her as she tried to get her babies back. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to do what she needed to do to get them back and it was such a sad thing to witness. I believe wholeheartedly that God’s best is for families to be together and to see a family permanently broken is a very heavy, heartbreaking thing, even if it is what is best for the children at that time. I also believe that God ordained for those boys to be with us when it was clear that the brokenness in their biological family wasn’t going to be rectified. Those beautiful boys are now our sons, and we hope that someday it will be safe for them to have a relationship with their mother.
When the boys were officially adopted, I remember feeling like I could breathe more easily knowing that “mom” was finally a permanent title for me. I love being their mom more than I can even express, and I love having a front row seat to their lives as they grow and learn who God made them to be. My sons are such a blessing and being their mom is truly a gift that keeps on giving. Through all the hard things that come with being a mom to children who have traumatic backgrounds, I always find my way back to a place of gratefulness. Being the one who gets to walk with them throughout their lives is a privilege that isn’t lost on me, and I pray it never will be.
a God of abundance...
Since their adoption, we’ve welcomed several more children into our home and are currently foster parents to four sweet little ones. I can honestly say that parenting six children at one time is not something I ever thought would happen. I always dreamed of having a large family, but when infertility became a part of my journey, I thought that was out of the realm of possibility. It is difficult to put into words all that I’ve received throughout this journey of giving of ourselves and welcoming children into our home. I’ve been given gifts such as the opportunity to walk beside other parents who are making their way through their parenting journey. I’ve been given the opportunity to break generational cycles off the life of every child who has lived in our home and see those children flourish, grow, and some even come to know Jesus. I’ve been given the capacity to love deeper than I ever knew I could love another person. And most importantly I’ve been given the opportunity to continuously choose to trust the God who repeatedly invites us to this life of constant hellos and goodbyes.
I heard someone once say that God wants to bless us, but that He cares more about who we become in the process of trusting Him and exercising our faith than He does about the blessings themselves. That is something that I always try to remember when things are hard, or I don’t want to keep going. He promised that if we seek Him first, He’ll give us everything we need and more because He is a God of abundance.
I do not believe that God caused the infertility that led us to foster care, but I know that Jesus is the best redeemer I’ve ever met, and He has used foster care to give me the gift of motherhood in a much greater measure than I could have imagined. I have been a mom in some capacity to 18 children over the years, which is abundantly more than I would have ever mothered biologically. In addition to the gift of the children we’ve fostered and my amazing, forever sons, God has used foster care to give me another very unexpected gift. He has given me the gift of witnessing and being a part of seeing families who were broken be put back together. That reconciliation is such a beautiful representation of the Father’s heart toward us. Just like Ephesian 3:20 says, I have seen the reality of God being the One Who “is able to do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think, according to His power” firsthand and I have come to know Him as a good Father as a result, which is by far the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
Staci was born to mother, and that is exactly what she does! After questioning why God wasn't answering her prayers to conceive a child of her own, she and her husband opened their Michigan home to children who needed to be mothered (and fathered). Over the years, Staci has fostered nearly 20 children, adopting two twin boys as their very own! Not only is Staci a foster parent, she advocates for the reunification of families and safe homes for children every single day outside of her four walls as she works as the Executive Director of Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Photos by Cate Autumn Photography. Headshot provided by Staci.