Written by Charissa Smith, Guest Blogger
Dozens of times a day I count my children. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. And no matter how many times I count those sweet, little people I can never shake the feeling that someone is missing. Maybe it is a result of all those children that I dreamt up while struggling through infertility or that sweet child that we lost before I even realized I was pregnant or the four boys that we had the honor of caring for while they were in community foster care. But I just can never shake that feeling that someone is missing; that there is this piece of our family, of my heart out there somewhere.
Some people are meant to be lawyers or nurses or teachers, I was made to be a mother. I knew it and so did anyone that knew me. So it was quite the blow four years ago when month after month I didn’t get pregnant. As a 27 year old newlywed, I just assumed that if we left the possibility open for a few months we would soon be expecting, but that wasn’t what happened for us. In fact it would take years to get any kind of answers other than. “It will happen when it’s meant to happen.” After a year of trying, we decided to reevaluate our family plan of having a few children and then completing our family through adoption. God had made it very clear to me while serving on a missions trip in Africa that we were called to domestic adoption, specifically adoption through foster care (but that’s a whole other story!), so we refocused our efforts to getting licensed to foster and adopt while always leaving the opportunity for a biological child open.
For us foster care was HARD. Getting into classes that worked with my husband’s work schedule was hard. Getting our new home to meet our state rules was hard—and expensive. Having to jump through extra hoops required for licensing was hard. Waiting was hard. Having absolutely no control was hard. Having to say goodbye to a child that we loved and dreamt of a future with was EXCRUCIATING. I did not believe in love at first sight until the moment that our first foster son was handed to me. The emotions that I felt in that instant to protect and love him were as fierce as they were overwhelming. In the eight months to follow we would have a total of four boys fill our home with laughter and joy. And each time they would leave was a devastating blow. It was 10,000 times harder than our journey with infertility. We absolutely love those boys and would take any of them back into our lives in whatever capacity we could at any moment. They are our sons.
No matter how much I loved my boys I always had the gut feeling that our first-born would be a girl. To be honest I idolized the experience of being a girl mom with the frilly dresses, cute hairstyles, ballet classes, and mommy/daughter activities. Then one day scrolling through Facebook I saw a post from a foster mom looking for a forever family for her two young girls. At that moment we had a one month old and a four month old and we knew that there were relatives working towards getting custody but were in denial that either—let alone both—would be leaving us any time soon so I just scrolled on by. But I simply couldn’t shake the feeling that I should respond to her post. And after a day of going back and forth on if I should respond or not I decided to just get a little more information. Just a couple of days later, we met our daughters for the first time. Now it would take a couple of months before they would be placed in our care (and one court hearing that sent the case back over a year for our younger daughter because of an error) but they were finally in our lives and it simply felt right.
So here we are with a 4 month old, 12 month old, and a 2 ½ year old when we find out that it is confirmed that the girl’s biological mother is pregnant and due in just a month! With our foster son’s plan heading towards a kinship placement we said yes to taking the baby and prepared for the best Christmas present ever!! We brought our son home just two days before Christmas, but we had to say goodbye to our foster son just nine days after that. We settled in as a family of five with everyone’s case headed towards severance and adoption, but like every other part of our journey to becoming parents it had to blow up in our faces first.
We heard the words no foster parent headed to adoption ever once to hear, “The children’s biological grandmother has a positive home study. You need to prepare for them to be leaving your care.” We were heart broken. Our adoptive placement with a three year case history was being derailed and all we could do was sit back and watch it happen, praying that whatever happened it was truly what was best for the kids. It was this time of indecision that family friend’s approached my grandparents to see if we would be interested in a private adoption. Their youngest son’s birth mom was seven months pregnant and looking for a loving home for the baby and through much prayer they had felt lead to us.
I’m sure my husband thought I was insane—everyone else did—but I instantly knew we had to take this baby. Whether our other three stayed or went in my heart I just knew this was our answer to prayer, our special child. And my goodness is she ever!! In August our sweet girl was born via cesarean and I was right there for not only her birth but also for those first snuggles, first bottle, first diaper change, all of it! In fact I stayed in the hospital with her and her biological mother until we were able to come home. It was an amazing experience to be there from the moment she was born. However, her adoption was not a breeze either. Her biological father refused to sign papers, her biological mother experienced second thoughts, the cost nearly tripled, and her adoption was delayed three months due to a lawyer’s mistake. But we made it through each hurdle and she was worth it all!
At this same time the judge declared that the other three were safer and better off in our care. After thirteen months we were able to adopt our eldest daughter and then six months later we adopted her two younger siblings, our middle children. We were licensed on April 17, 2016 and finalized our last two adoptions April 16, 2018 so in exactly two years our family was complete. It is not how we thought it would happen and was definitely not on our timetable but it was exactly what was always meant to be. And I will never get over the joy of hearing, “Smith, party of 6.” That is unless there is a surprise yet in store for us. A mama can still hope, right?
If you’d like to connect with Charissa, you can find her on Instagram!