Matt, Heidi, Jaz, Shiloh, Sean, Annika, and Isaiah
Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate. -Psalm 127:3-5
One day while sitting at a park bench watching my daughter play, I sat next to a woman who was also watching children play. Something about her seemed so familiar. Although I rarely do this, I said to her, “Do I know you from somewhere?” This start of our conversation led to the realization that we have mutual friends. We also learned that we are both adoptive mothers of children out of foster care. We exchanged Facebook info, and each went our separate ways.
I’ve been wanting to share more stories of the “Backyard Missionaries” that make a difference in our communities. I think of foster/adoptive parents as missionaries serving others in their own backyards. I’ve asked Heidi and Matt to share their story….here it is.
Heidi has always had the desire to adopt even before she and Matt tried to get pregnant. After six years of marriage they opted not to pursue infertility treatments, and instead, put their pursuit and efforts into adoption. Although Heidi yearned for pregnancy, once they began their journey of adoption, she quickly became excited about what was in store for them.
Their first son, Isaiah, was placed with them through a private adoption agency. They were blessed to be matched so quickly, but also noted that they were very open to race, and other issues such as prenatal drug usage. This level of openness certainly helped to speed up their placement matching.
Throughout the next four years, it was just Matt, Heidi, and Isaiah. They wanted more children, and chose to become licensed as foster parents in the hopes of eventually adding to their family. Within the first few months of licensure, they received a call about a sibling group of three children, ages 10 months, 2 years, and 3 years. A few months later, they were called to take placement of another little one. In a matter of months, they went from being a family of three to a family of seven!
They finalized their adoptions in 2011, and thought they were finished when they received a call from the local children’s protective services office in June 2012. Matt and Heidi say “yes” to a newborn sibling of their children. They continue to foster him, and if the case goal changes to adoption, they will add another little one to their amazing family!
For Matt and Heidi, the biggest joy is seeing their children grow and thrive. They recognize that the road of life these little ones were walking before coming to their home was a difficult one. It is indescribable to know that they have taken part in the incredible intervention of children’s lives.
Their oldest daughter really struggled when she came to live with them at age three. She desperately missed her birth mommy, and was angry. Matt and Heidi allowed these feelings, and helped her transition to their home by offering stability, love, and support. The quick adjustment from a small family to a large one was quite challenging at first, and it took them a while. Big is normal now, and they love it.
Questions from others such as, “Are you ever going to have children of your own?”, or “Which ones are brothers and sisters?” are ones that challenge Matt and Heidi. Although they have two biological sibling groups, they are ALL brothers and sisters, and do not see each other any different. As far as having their own children, Matt and Heidi know their children are their own, and quite simply do not understand why anyone else would feel different.
Adoption has changed their lives, formed their family, and has added incredible joy. Adoption has taught them the value of diversity, and it is their uniqueness as Caucasian parents raising African-American and Bi-racial children that they embrace. Their family motto is “Colors Don’t Matter” . They have also learned that the ability to grow babies in a belly truly has nothing to do with the love and commitment of parenting. Adoption has taught them that love truly has no borders and knows no bounds.
Heidi’s and Matt’s advice for people considering adoption out of foster care is quite simple:
“Be patient. Have faith. The system is not perfect. Love the children.”
Matt and Heidi own a photography studio and are preparing to put together a gallery of images of families who have adopted out of foster care in an effort to promote this incredibly vital and worthy cause in our nation. You can check out their website at: www.Freedom-Photography.com