Editor’s Note: This is Part III of Amanda’s story as part of a mini-series on what it’s like to be a millennial foster parent. Read Part I to discover why she and her husband became young foster parents and Part II to read about fostering their first child, N.On November 8, just a little over a month after having N in our home, I was spending time with God in prayer when I felt this pressing upon my heart to be open. I didn’t know what that meant, but the command was clear — I was to be open.My mind went in many directions trying to figure out what it meant, but it seemed like God wanted me to consider the possibility of taking in N’s twin sister, M.‘But why, God?’ I wondered. It wasn’t like M was in need. I’d met and spent time with the two women who had N’s sister and baby brother, and they were both wonderful. I thought to myself, ‘M’s in a safe and loving environment just like her sister.’ So I chose not to say or do anything, but continued to talk to God about this concept of being open.
Circumstances began to align
Out of nowhere, N began to talk about her twin sister M frequently. Whenever she’d hear someone at the door, she’d perk up and squeal her sister’s name. Whenever she was being laid down for bed, she began to tell us how much she loved her sister until she’d said her name a thousand times, like a broken record.Then, one day, I was picking her up from preschool like normal when her teacher (who we adore!) said, “Manda, I wanted to let you know that there’s a spot opening up in my classroom, and it would be so great to have N’s twin sister in it!”I hurried home and spilled my heart out to Eric, telling him for the first time what I’d been hearing from the Lord about being open and all of the coincidences that followed. I reiterated that if he felt we had our arms full enough as it is, he could tell me no. I mentally braced myself for a hard no, not because my husband doesn’t love N and wouldn’t want the girls to be together, but because this has been a massive life change, and it would be totally understandable for him to say, “Not yet. We’re not ready to have two kids.” But much to my surprise, before I could even finish my sentence, Eric interrupted me, “Yes! Babe, if M can go to the same preschool and the option to bring her into our care is real, I’m open to that. It’d be wonderful to keep the girls together and do what’s best for them.”Completely taken back and crazy in love with the man I married, I picked up the phone and called the preschool to double-check that there was, in fact, a spot opening up in the three-year-old room. Once the information was verified, I spoke with our caseworker to simply let her know that we were open to whatever is best for the girls, specifically if that meant adding M to our care.Our caseworker expressed that the goal is always to keep siblings together; however, being that we were brand new and there’s more children in need than there are foster families, they hadn’t wanted to give us more than we could handle at the risk of us quitting altogether. Since it had been nearly two months of having N, she asked us questions about how we were adjusting and came over for a visit. Our honesty about how tough parenting N was did not keep our caseworker from believing us when we also expressed our heart for keeping these twin sisters together so that they could thrive.
Bringing in our second foster child
The next 24 hours were an all-hands-on-deck situation. M’s previous foster family supported our goal of keeping the girls together, so we began the process of obtaining all documentation necessary for her to be enrolled in the Head Start program and transitioned into our home.The twins’ mom was elated to know that two of her three babies would be living together going forward. Nothing made me happier than receiving assurance from the woman who birthed and raised these beautiful children that we’d made the right decision.I worried I might not naturally bond with M the way I did with N. I feared there was no way I had the same amount of love left in my heart to give to M because N stole it all. However, all of those worries and fears subsided once she was in our arms.We are created by a God who loves every single one of his unique 7.4 billion children on this earth just the same. How silly of me to worry about running out of love to give. He is the God of abundance. There is always more.M latched hard onto Eric, which created a balance in our daily grind. And as N witnessed M playing with and being cared for by Eric, N warmed up to him all the more. We were a family, and we had found our new normal. They called us Mommy and Daddy no matter how many times we tried to keep them from attaching like that. Much to our surprise, our temporary placement continued for months. Our guardianship was “indefinite.” We were asked to consider adoption — a question we had not entertained since the goal of foster care is reunification. But as the seasons passed, we transitioned, believing this was our forever. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year’s Eve. Valentine’s Day. Easter. Mother’s Day.Every holiday, I mentally prepared to hand my girls over, knowing it’s always a possibility that they would spend the occasion with their first family, or even return to them permanently.I wanted my girls to reunify with their mom — I knew that was the goal all along. I knew how much they missed her and how bad it must hurt to not see her for months.But at the same time, selfishly, I never wanted them to leave. Heck, I cried when I didn’t see them for one day. The days when Eric got them ready for school so I could work out at the gym and the evenings he picked them up and put them to bed while I worked late were the days I went into their room and I’d kiss their cheeks and stare at them — completely in awe of their beauty and resilience.Hearing, “I love you Mama” or “mommmyyy” for the 47th time in a single hour was somehow the best gift I never knew I wanted. There was always a small part of me that worried, ‘what if I don't love a child fully?’ I think part of this fear was driven by friends (or society in general) who made comments about loving their own more than other people's kids, etc. But, any sliver of fear that I wouldn’t be able to fully love a child I did not carry in my womb dissolved when M and N came into my life. They affirmed everything God had called me to many years ago.
Finding peace in our new co-parenting roles
In June of 2018, we returned our girls to their mom. We were devastated that our lives were being flipped upside down and that the children for whom we would lay down our lives were leaving our care, but still,we felt a comfort and a peace that kept us afloat in the transition. It wasn’t our own strength, and it wasn’t an optimistic attitude. There is no other explanation for the comfort we felt, other than the Holy Spirit. God continues to guide us as we co-parent with their mom to this day. This is all part of His ultimate plan, and though I don’t know where it’ll take us, I’m eternally grateful N and M were a part of it. I am confident God will never lead us astray. Like a stubborn grandmother who is wise and has our best intentions at heart, the Holy Spirit is relentless, blunt, but never manipulates or uses guilt as a driving force.I was born to foster. I don’t know what anyone else was born to do, but I know there’s a reason. And you have to answer when He calls. In doing so, you will experience a life that is less about you and yet full of peace — a makes-no-sense kind of peace. The kind of peace you have when your life is wrecked by twin 3-year-olds barging in and the kind of peace you keep when those children, who you love as if you carried them in your womb, no longer live under your roof. People often ask me about foster parenting. I always advise them: ask yourself, where are you being called? Are you following God’s promptings?