Foster & Adoption: {AnnMarie’s Story}

 
AnnMarie & her husband Danny have long been massive inspirations in my life. Their love for children who are hurting has made a difference to so many and their journey is just beginning!

Foster & Adoption: {AnnMarie’s Story}

When did you and your spouse first discuss fostering?

It was 2006; we were 12 years into our marriage and were trying to get pregnant for about 6 years at that point. With unexplained infertility, we decided to not go the medical route to start a family, but instead, explored the adoption route we dreamed about before we were even married.  One beautiful evening in our Los Angeles home, Danny mentioned looking into being foster parents.

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If any, what were your fears concerning fostering?

I initially said, “no way!”  I didn’t think it was something I could do after longing to be a mom for so long.  I didn’t think I could care for children….and then give them up.  Danny asked if I would spend time praying about it and I agreed. The very next day God spoke to me clearly; he let me know it wasn’t about me and that He was willing to trust me with His children.  I had such peace; I just knew He would take care of me.

Was fostering to adopt the goal?

Fast forward to the summer of 2007, God led us to Florida after a whirlwind where Danny’s work had us live back and forth between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. We were finally at a place to settle in.  We started the training required to become foster parents right away.  God did such a work in me that I had complete peace with whatever He had.  If it meant we would foster for the rest of our lives and be a part of caring for and nurturing children who would eventually move on, then that was OK.  But our first two newborn placements needed to be adopted and we were blessed to be able to be their forever family.

Can you tell us about the children you received?

We began caring for Owen before we even had our foster parent license.  We received a call from a Foster Parent (FP) we met at a training meeting. The FP received a call to take a baby as we happened to be wandering Babies R Us. We just happened to be looking around to see what might be needed to prepare for ages 0-5.  The FP asked if we could care for a baby boy until our license was approved. Of course we could!  So, we rushed to the FP home and received a precious little bundle of a baby delivered in a sheriff’s car.   We cared for him, and loved him as if we had given birth to him. All the while, the courts worked to determine his future.

The entire journey was definitely a roller coaster of emotions, but we continually  trusted God’s will for his sweet life.  In the end, we were asked if we would be his forever family. We were blessed with the opportunity to make it official almost two years later.

When Owen was 5 months old, we were asked if we were willing to take another newborn baby girl.  We said, “Yes!” Lilly had spent the night with another foster mom while we quickly obtained another crib, along with all the other things needed to care for a preemie baby girl.  It was a blur of a day, but we clearly remember meeting the foster mom in the Bealls parking lot.  She was a teeny 5lb little baby!  So precious! In that situation, we knew the chances of adoption were high.  We knew the family who cared for her biological sister and bio mom had not worked her case plan.  When Lilly was just 5 months old, we had the honor of becoming her forever family.

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Owen                                                                   Lilly

While Owen and Lilly came to us just days after they were born, Emma our youngest daughter, was 2.5 months old when we met.  She started out in medical foster care while some critical needs were addressed.  When we were called to see if we would care for her, we initially thought we would have to say no.  We felt the need to give our hearts some time to recover from a previous baby boy who had just left after we loved and cared for him for almost a year.  All indications were Emma would be a short-term placement. A family who adopted her biological cousins were planning to adopt her.  But God had a different plan.  We received a text one night after a Bridge A Life Stew Crew meeting that asked if we would be interested in adopting her! It turned out that the other family was unable to adopt her.  Of course, we said, “yes!”  Again, we were honored and humbled that God would entrust us for a third time with one of His precious babies!

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Emma

How has fostering and adopting affected your marriage?

While it is an incredible blessing to care for children from tough places, it can be very stressful on a marriage.  With caring for babies coming off of drugs, all the appointments, therapies, visits with biological parents, having case managers and guardians in your home…. It’s a lot.  You both need to be on the same page and have your focus on what you are called to do.

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Were you met with any opposition within your family? If so, did it change once they met your children?

For us, I think any opposition was coming from a place of concern for Danny and me.  I think family was worried how it would be for us once our children left. That being said, everyone instantly fell in love with all the babies we have cared for.

What has being involved with birth mothers been like?

When it’s a safe situation, it is awesome to be able to connect with birth moms.  It means so much to moms for you to be able to encourage them to work their case plan and just give them hope!  It’s one of the coolest parts of fostering.

On average, how many children are in foster care every night in the state of Florida?

On average, 14,000! We have roughly 1200 children in our tri-county area (Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto Counties) in care, and nowhere near enough homes for them.  Sibling groups are usually split up, often times spread throughout the state…in shelters and group homes.  We desperately need healthy, loving homes to care for our children!

What are some common misconceptions about fostering and adopting?

Fostering and adopting can be the hardest thing you will ever do.  No lie.  But along with that comes the greatest blessing.  We haven’t adopted older children so I can’t speak on that personally. Bottom line is this: there are so many kids who need a family to care for them and give them a safe, healthy home.  How awesome to be the one to care for a little baby and give them the opportunity to learn to attach and trust someone.  Without the ability to attach, the child will go down a long, difficult road. One of the most common things people will say to me is, “Wow, I could never be a foster parent… I could never give them up.”  Well, I’ve come to realize that it’s not really about us, is it?  It’s about loving these precious children who are in an awful situation through no fault of there own.  And loving them all the way until the day comes where, hopefully their biological mom can be healthy and stable and be able to care for her children.  What’s better than that?!

The Jones adopting their child, Emma from the foster-care system

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To learn more about fostering or adoption check out their website { Bridge A Life }

For more Adoption Stories click {HERE}

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