I have always loved children. When I was single, I worked in jobs that involved them. When my husband Bill and I decided to start a family, but needed my income, I began a home day care center. Soon our daughter Rachael was born, followed less than three years later by our daughter Celeste. We had agreed to only have two children, so felt like our family was complete, even though I always longed for a large family.
After a move to Oklahoma, I read a newspaper article about foster parenting. It seemed like a good way to fill our home with children, so we took the training, and became foster parents. Things went along well, until we got a newborn baby boy named Brian that I fell in love with. At that time, foster parents couldn’t adopt, and adoptive parents couldn’t foster, and after seven months, Brian was placed in a new family. My heart was utterly broken, and I begged Bill for more babies. We soon had Gage, followed two years later by Max. We quite fostering, and moved back to Texas.
My convictions changed as time went on, and we became ‘quiver full’, and soon had two more sons, Spencer and Beau, and a beautiful daughter, Mary Susannah. Our oldest daughter married, and she and her husband became foster parents. I enjoyed her foster children, and even considered becoming licensed again, especially after two siblings were placed with her, a brother and sister. The little girl was just recovering from brain surgery after an accident. She was a sweet girl with a survivor spirit, and I fell in love with her. The three year old boy was not able to speak because of severe neglect, not potty trained, and still took a bottle even though he was three years old. He used sign language to communicate.
After the two were in Rachael’s home nearly a year, a termination of parental rights date was set. I approached my husband with the idea of getting our license and seeing if we could adopt these two children. He agreed, and I approached the social worker, Ms O. To my face, she said she could not discuss this with me, because her job was to try and reunite the family, but I heard later that she and the CASA (court appointed special advocate) were in awe that a family had come forward so quick to take these older siblings, because that rarely happened.
Bill and I got a date to start our training towards our license.Soon after it was discovered that the children's mother was pregnant again. This meant her abusive boyfriend had the right to be rehabilitated since they were claiming he was the father, and they were given a six month extension. The new baby, a boy, was born prematurely within three weeks of CPS finding out the mother was pregnant. Rachael didn’t normally take newborns, but we were getting enough training to help her watch him, so I begged her to take him so we could get to know him.
The baby came home when he was about two weeks old. He was tiny, and terribly bruised from a hard birth. He developed RSV at two months, and was diagnosed with asthma. I grew more and more attached to him, which was a problem, since his mother seemed to be getting her life together with the help of her boyfriend. Finally, there was a permanency meeting, and the ad litem, who did NOT want the children returned, demanded a DNA test on the baby. She and everyone else knew the baby was probably not the boyfriend’s, because he would have been in jail when the child was conceived. The test was done, and came back negative. The boyfriend was not the father. This changed everything, the boyfriend was humiliated, and said the baby could not come live with them. Another hearing was called, and the mother said she would surrender the baby, and take the two older children. My daughter Rachael called me and said the ad litem wanted to know, did I still want the baby without the other two older children? Of course I said yes.
The baby was at my house, and I picked him up and carried him to the porch. I looked at him and thought, “I never would have gone after a newborn. I wanted your sister, and I loved your brother too.” Suddenly, I heard God speak to me, not in a thunderous voice, but just that still quiet voice in my head, “This is what I had in mind all along. It was the baby I wanted you to have.” I burst into tears as His plan came known to me.
The two older children went home to their mother, our license was nearly complete, and the baby's social worker, Ms O, planned on placing him with us as soon as it was finished. The home study was done on my birthday, another sweet sign, I thought. But a new monkey wrench was thrown into the mix. We received our license, and Ms O set a date and time to bring the baby to our house to place him with us. Two hours before she was to arrive, our new social worker, Ms N called her and told her she was NOT to place the baby with us. Ms N claimed Ms O was not going through proper channels. This was quite a blow. But still, I knew what the Lord had told me, and although I spent the day in disappointed tears, I hung on to those words I had heard Him say. “This is what I had in mind all along. It was the baby I wanted you to have.”
Ms O prepared the case study that my worker said we had to read before he could be placed with us. She sent it to Ms N, and then left town. But when I went to pick it up, Ms N would not give it to me. She said she had read the case study and saw that the baby had seven siblings, and felt like Ms O had not tried hard enough to place him with one of his siblings. I held up better than I expected, in fact, I have to say I expected her to have some reason not to give the case study to me. She commented that I seemed to be taking this well, and I held my head up and told her (and truly believed it) "If God wants me to have this baby, I will get him." She told me in a condescending way, "Yes, your right. If God wants you to get him, you will..."
I left her office that day, disappointed and brokenhearted again, but still trying to hold onto God’s promise. Once again, as I prayed, I heard God speak, telling me in that still quiet voice again during the middle of a prayer “He is your son.” Those words kept me sane during this period.
Ms O was out of town for two weeks, and when she returned, we were met with crushing news: Ms N had gotten the home of one of the baby's siblings, a therapeutic home that had adopted his severely handicapped brother, but had turned the three siblings I had been interested in down twice before, to say they would adopt him if he had nowhere else to go. Ms N demanded that Ms O place him in that home immediately, but Ms O refused. She would not move the baby before the final termination hearing.
Once again, I was devastated. I could not see any way out of it this time, except that we would lose him. God, you promised me twice, didn’t you? Or was that just my own flesh, my own longing? I hung onto those words, but knew too that if we didn’t get him, it was because it was God’s will, and someday I would know why.
Several weeks past, we had a little foster daughter placed in our home, a new baby girl. One day, as I hung clothes outside, one of my children brought me the telephone, and it was Ms N. In a cheerful happy voice, she informed me she had gone on leave the week before. She said that CPS workers could retire for a month after they had worked long enough, and then return to their old jobs and draw a retirement salary and a regular salary. The return job was not guaranteed, but pretty certain. I hung up in shock, and called my daughter. Ms N, the social worker who seemed to have a particular problem with us, was leaving!!! Lord, is this in answer to my prayer?
Ms O told us that she wanted Rachael, Bill and I, and the baby to all be at the termination hearing. We weren’t sure why, but we would do anything she said. When the time for the hearing came, all I wanted was hope, that maybe we still had a chance of keeping the baby. The CASA worker and her supervisor, the ad litem, and Ms O, all of whom supported us adopting this child, were there. Every time the door opened, I just knew it would be Ms N, even though she didn’t officially work for CPS anymore, but she never came. In the course of this hearing, when Ms O was testifying, she and the CPS attorney talked about the other home with a sibling to be found for the baby. The CPS attorney said, “Although this is usually the goal, we know this is not always in the best interest of the child, correct?” “Yes” said Ms O. The attorney said, “And in this case, you believe it would be in the best interest of the child to allow the Raley’s, who he has known since birth, and is bonded to, to be allowed to adopt him, correct?” Again, she said yes. The attorney said, “And the child’s ad litem is in agreement with this, correct?” The ad litem said, “Yes, your honor, and so is CASA.” They also had my daughter to testify about our family, and she told of our love for him. The hearing came to an end, and it was time for the judge’s ruling. He ruled that the parental rights be terminated, and that the Raley’s be given the opportunity of adopting the baby. My daughter turned to me and said, “Well, you got him, Mom.”
I could not believe it! This was more than I hoped for. The judge had ruled that we would adopt him!! There wasn’t much that could change that now!We left the courthouse, and I couldn’t contain my tears. Cell phone out, I was calling everyone I could think of with the good news. As we passed a familiar church that always has scripture on its big board out front, I happened to look up just in time to read the scripture posted that day, “My peace I give you.”Our adoption has been complete for almost two years now. The baby is now named Luke, and is the joy of our lives!