by Jodie Marsh, Mission Georgia Mobilizer
Adoption has been in my heart since the age of five.
I remember watching a television show about adoption and telling my mother as a matter of fact that one day I would adopt. Then I marched my sassy little self out of the room as if the matter was settled.
Mom has passed on, but she would tell you my determination on the matter was not in question. I did not think much of it again until I started dating for marriage in college. I knew my calling, and my husband would need to be on board.
When Joe Marsh told me he wanted to marry me one day, I said, “Ok, but I have one condition! Are you willing to adopt?”
He was in, but the road would neither be smooth nor straight.
Our family grew quickly. Our two biological daughters are 18 months apart. With our third child on the way, our friends and family assumed adoption was no longer a consideration. Little did anyone know that God was preparing my heart for something new throughout my pregnancy.
Everywhere I turned, there were little God-winks of adoption and foster care; from the Karen Kingsbury book I was reading to the keynote speaker at a conference talking through their journey of adoption. I could not turn on a television or open a book without the subject of foster care or adoption coming up for several months.
Joe and I began to pray and seek God’s will. On April 10, 2009, our world came crashing down when we delivered a beautiful stillborn son on Good Friday. Our hearts were crushed, but we both clung to our faith. We knew God could use our son’s life and death to bless others. But the question was how?
With the same determination as that five-year-old girl talking to her mama so long ago, I decided to adopt. God’s call to me was to love people more.
My prayer would often sound a little like this: “Ok, God, you want me to love people more? Then we will adopt, and I will love that child as my own!”
I wanted to write my own quick, neat, and wrapped-up story.
We ultimately decided to adopt through the foster care system. This started a year-long journey of becoming foster parents. Throughout the training, I was repeatedly reminded by one of my favorite people that reunification with a parent or relative is the goal of foster care.
The process of becoming a foster parent introduces you to a broken system. They desperately need foster parents, but often lack the resources to get them licensed on time. We had two paths to choose from; foster to adopt or adoption only.
After much prayer, we opted to foster. It would open our home to more children. The week that our son would have turned four, two beautiful boys were placed in our arms.
One of them had the same name as our son.
My heart immediately thought, “This must be it! This is from God. Our adoption story will begin and end here.”
I created a narrative and wrote my own story. I was WRONG! The goal of foster care is for the child to be safely returned to a parent or relative.
I met the boy’s family. They loved and wanted the best for them. They had the desire and means to raise them. God used the love of their aunt to open my heart to the big picture of foster care, which is reunification with family.
I watched their aunt climb every mountain in the foster care system like they were little hilltops just to prove she was fit.
She jumped through hoops while working a full-time job and taking care of her family. She truly changed my heart and mindset.
The day those two boys went home, my husband literally picked me up off the floor of the state office we took them back to. I helped load those boys and I hugged the aunt.
I gave them back, and they drove away.
My heart was celebrating for her and grieving for myself.
Giving them back was HARD, but with God, it was possible. The Father sent Christ to suffer on the cross for my sins. He died on Good Friday to redeem so many and gave them life in the middle of this messy world. My call was to love people more, and that meant being willing to give them back to a loving family.
Our journey over the next ten years led 16 children and their families into our lives.
Each foster child came with a different story and a different outcome. Our family did grow through adoption, but our calling to help families became so significant.
Foster Care is not just about vulnerable children.
The families behind them need support. Our goal as the body of Christ should be helping to keep families together and breaking generational sin.
Many times, throughout our journey, I felt alone and scared. I needed training to help me support children through trauma. I needed resources to help me support caseworkers and families. I needed the church’s help to love families in their community. I saw a broken system without enough advocates.
Mission Georgia’s Foster Care Team is here to help your church engage foster care and support those who are involved with it. All the things I have dreamed of are found in the team I am working with to reinforce the church’s commission to care for orphans.