This blog has been mostly devoted to my own personal journey from the valley of unknowns and barrenness to the glorious mountain top that is adoption. I know that my story is not the only one out there. There are many families whose stories include answering the call to care for children in need. This is one of them.
In 1999, when Tamra was just 23 years of age and finishing college, her heart was deeply touched by the foster children who attended her daycare. She was moved so much that she decided to become a licensed foster care provider through the state. Tamra asked to be put on the so-called openings list for placements. This list is how workers know that families are available to take children into their homes. A few days had passed before any calls were made to her. That all changed though on July 24, 1999.
Imagine, if you will, running into your home to change clothes after a wedding so that you can head out for the reception, picking up the ringing phone, and being asked “Would you be available to take in a two month old baby boy?” That is exactly what happened. Tamra excitedly got off the phone, grabbed her friend, and made their way to the hospital – so much for going to the wedding reception!
This 8 week old baby boy had been intentionally thrown out and onto some lawn furniture and needed to be checked for injuries. As Tamra was waiting to meet him, her mind was racing with thoughts of “What have I done? I don’t know how to take care of a baby!” She also wondered if the nursing staff thought of her as being too young to be a foster parent. Tamra was not prepared, but felt the calling to say “yes”. She did not have a crib, car seat, or anything really for a newborn, so after they left the hospital, they made their way to Wal-Mart to pick up all of the necessities for taking care of babies. Foster families very rarely get a lot of time to prepare for placements, so they must think and act quickly.
It was very natural for her to fall in love with the little prince that came to live with her on that fateful night in both of their lives. Tamra’s fiance, Shane (now her husband), also fell in love with him. Their extended family worried that they would get their hearts broken, but they were also supportive and realistic about the primary goal of the foster care system in working towards reunification with birth parents and their children. Although adoption was not their first intention, Tamra and Shane were very happy when it appeared that adoption would be the goal for him.
Things were moving along and then…new case worker….new ideas…a relative stepped in. This little boy had been placed with her since age of 2 months, had been visiting his birth parents the entire duration of the case, and now was potentially going to be moving in to a relative’s home. After 2 weeks of nail-biting anxiety, a decision was made to keep their boy where he was.
After 4 years and one month of loving and fostering him, their dream of becoming his forever parents came true. Their adoption was finalized by the courts. Their son is an amazing child, is in a gifted program and in advanced math classes. They are very proud of him!
Despite the long haul through the system with their son, Tamra and Shane decided to pursue another placement of a foster child. They really hoped for a girl and were blessed by the placement of a 12 week old baby girl. This precious girl only weighed 9 pounds and the 3-6 month clothing Tamra picked out for her swallowed her up!
Tamra and Shane fell in love with this little girl immediately; yet, they were realistic about foster care as they had just experienced a long journey with their son. At their very first team meeting, they were asked if they would consider adoption of her! They were so surprised and felt incredibly blessed! Their adoption was finalized in 2004.
Their daughter has had some challenges. She is autistic and has a seizure disorder, but she is an amazing joy in their lives. They feel so blessed to call her their daughter. Life would not be the same without her “sassyness” and her personality. She has made great strides and they have great hope for her continued progress and well-being.
Tamra and Shane want those who are considering foster care and adoption to know that you have to give the children your all. Foster parents have the opportunities to help set the foundations for these children that can last a life-time. It is a risk and you can get hurt, but the impact you can make on the lives of children is worth it. Perseverance, consistency, stability, advocacy, and trusting your knowledge about the kids you are caring for are attributes that Tamra and Shane feel are necessary when fostering children.
They believe that the Lord had His hand in forming their family through foster care and adoption. Tamra and Shane do not regret a single thing and feel extremely blessed to call their children their own. Their greatest joy is raising the children, witnessing their triumphs, and experiencing life that is free from abuse and neglect.
In Tamra’s words “Adoption is a beautiful thing!”
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28