My name is Daniel, my wife’s name is Shellee and over the past 3 years we’ve become parents to 6 children. Our foster care journey has been unique and not without its own set of struggles but it has changed our entire world for the better!
Our kids are 7, 6, 3, 3, 2 and 6 months and we adopted our three oldest girls through the foster care system. Our youngest daughter was adopted through a private adoption and our two boys are the youngest and are biological children.
We were introduced to foster care when my aunt and uncle contacted us on behalf of our two oldest girl’s biological Grandmother. The girls were in the foster care system for the second time and she was not able to care for them any longer but wanted to stay in touch with them. We had the privilege of having these girls in our home for a bit less than 1 year when they returned to their biological mother’s care on Christmas Eve in 2013. However, our story together doesn’t end there.
When they returned home we were able to keep in contact, occasionally have them on weekends and were even able to take them on a few family vacations. We did everything we could to ensure we kept a great relationship with the girls, as we had an overwhelming feeling we would always play a role in their lives.
After our oldest two girls returned to their biological mom, keeping our foster care license was something we felt we needed to do. In August 2014, a newborn girl was admitted to the hospital after being abandoned and a couple days later we had the privilege of bringing her into our home. We were able to finalize her adoption 8 months later, which made her our first legal child. Shortly after we brought this miracle baby into our home, our family started growing quickly! 2 ½ months later, we had the opportunity to bring another newborn girl into our home by way of private adoption. We finalized her adoption about a month after our first. To make things that much sweeter, 5 months after our second adoption was finalized, we found out we were pregnant with a boy. Wild! He was born April 2016.
The feeling we had about us always playing a role in the oldest girls lives came back again around August 2016 when they entered back into the foster care system for the third time. Permanency was a must for them. That winter we also found out we were pregnant with our second boy. We continued through the due process to determine where the girls would end up, and it was decided that the girls were going to become a permanent part of our forever family! We finalized their adoptions November 2017, two months after Shellee gave birth to our second boy. A little over 3 years since our family started, here we are with 6 kids and a house full of love. All of this started because of foster care!
We have learned that foster care is not about our needs as much as it is about the needs of the children. Many children who come into foster care have been subjected to neglect and abuse, however, giving a child a safe home, that is full of unconditional love – we feel, is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things in the world. There will be many things out of your control throughout the foster process, but the one thing you can control is your attitude regarding the situation and how you treat/respond to the children in your home. We found that the sooner you learn to dance in the rain with what may come, the brighter the rainbow you will experience. This quote by Charles Swindoll is something that we really strive to live by –
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes”
You learn and grow a lot with foster care. To us, the most important advice we can give is to love hard and remember your attitude! If the children return to their biological family, you will never regret love spent. Children in the foster care system will have personal challenges, and we have found that what can help them the most in overcoming these challenges is your unconditional love. While this love may not “fix” all of their obstacles, it is something that they will never forget.
In Maya Angelou’s words, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.”
Remember your attitude and always extend love. LOVE HARD.
Facebook (Group): Adoption & Foster Care by The Hyde Life