By Michael Bowen
Krista and I had very different encounters that God used to nudge us toward fostering children. But, regardless of how we got there, we both had to get involved. Our friends were licensed through Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth (SCSCY), and we decided to follow their steps. It wasn’t until later that I realized how grateful I was to have a partner like SCSCY on this journey.
We completed our certification and quickly received a baby boy and his 17-year-old sister as our first placement. There are so many stigmas attached to teenage foster children that we debated back and forth with each other before agreeing to take her. For us, the change of heart occurred when we were told she would most likely end up in a group home if we could not bring her into our home. We couldn’t imagine this girl, who had endured so much, would be put in a group home because of our no. So, we agreed, and on a dark evening in Byram, MS, we met them for the first time.
Our family of 5 had grown to a family of 7, and our little home suddenly felt very small. Every room had two children, and we had a baby in our bedroom. It took a while for her to build trust with us that she would allow us to care for him without her presence. Krista is the real hero in that process as she patiently worked and built that trust. The interactions with CPS were eye-opening and tough but having social workers from SCSCY gave us an ally as we walked through this process to help us understand what was happening and what we needed to do. As medical and counseling services were needed, SCSCY helped us get things set up with doctors and counselors. When there was a situation that required in-patient behavioral health, the team from SCSCY was there to sit with us in the ER and walk us through the process. It wasn’t easy, but it was oh so helpful to have an ally.
Our foster daughter was able to get a job, her GED, and some life skills classes while she was with us. We walked through some traumatic experiences with her and helped her work with local authorities as needed. She was with us only about a year before she was reunited with her biological father, but it formed a relationship that continues to this day. She now has a family of her own and lives out of state, but she calls when she has life questions and texts us on special occasions. She is our adult daughter now, and we love her.
We continued to foster the baby boy and watched him grow as one of our children. We saw him take his first step, say his first word, and go to kindergarten. All that time, our hearts had shifted from a mindset of fostering him to a position of adoption, even though things moved slowly through the courts and questions about his status were present almost every day. Our social worker from SCSCY was so helpful in consistently calming us, advising us each step of the way, and loving us all. Finally, when his status was changed, and we were asked if we wanted to adopt that little boy, God answered our prayer.
It was a great day when after four years of fostering and over two years of waiting to adopt, we finally got to see it happen. SCSCY was there in the courtroom and became part of the family through the process. We can’t thank SCSCY enough for the work all their team did to care for us, for the children, and for working to advocate for us. Agreeing to foster a newborn and 17-year-old was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done and stretched us to a place we didn’t always want to be, but God called us to it, gave us two more great kids in our family, and provided a friend in SCSCY to walk this journey with us.