Learning From Each Other

Tell me about your family and how your children came home to you.
Brian and I have been married for 14 years and have five children. Adoption was a desire of both of ours before we even met, and after giving birth to two daughters, we began pursuing international adoption. God had different plans however, and after he dramatically changed my heart, we got our foster license. We fostered two little boys who were unable to return home and after caring for them for a couple years they became our sons. Their baby sister came to us at 4 days old and she too became a permanent part of our family shortly after her 2nd birthday.

How did you see God move mightily in the midst of your adoption/foster process?
We saw God move in many ways throughout the process and He is still moving, but I’ll share one specific way here. Our three adopted children are actually part of a sibling set of five. When our boys first came to our home, their two sisters were living with relatives. When that arrangement was no longer possible and they also needed a foster home, we were unable to have all four together. This broke my heart and I felt very guilty about it for awhile. But God had a plan. He knew there was a family out there that could provide just what these two sisters needed. He knew that two families together would be able to surround this sibling set with so much love and be able to support each other along the way. He also knew a fifth sibling was soon to be born and that she too would need a home. We are beyond blessed to be forever joined to this family. We see ourselves as aunts,uncles and cousins to each other, celebrate life together and make sure these siblings will always be in each others lives.

How do you incorporate your children’s ethnicity into your family culture?
Our children’s birthparents are from Mexico and our boys came to us at 2 and 3 years old only understanding Spanish. I knew maybe 10 words of Spanish at the time, but as a homeschooling mom I knew just where to go….the library! We flooded our home with Spanish children’s books and songs and watched alot of Curious George (Jorge el Curioso) in Spanish. We sought out Mexican cultural events in the area, shopped at Mexican grocery stores, ate at authentic Mexican restaurants, explored Mexican recipes at home and learned about Mexican holidays and traditions. We continue all of these things to this day and every year strive to blend a little more of the beautiful Spanish language and Mexican culture into our unique family culture.

What have you learned about yourself since becoming an adoptive or foster parent?
I am both much weaker and much stronger than I thought I was. The last few years have revealed many of my weaknesses and I was often pushed to my human limit. The image of that always selfless and patient person I imagined myself to be was completely shattered. This is a good thing though, because it caused me to rely on God. And because I relied on God, I could do things I didn’t think I was capable of. My biggest fear in foster care before we started was loving a child who would leave, something I’ve now done several times and guess what, I survived! They were actually incredibly rewarding experiences that I would gladly go through again. I’ve also had caseworkers, CASA workers, investigators, and therapists in my home on a regular basis, navigated IEP meetings at schools before finally being able to homeschool my boys, sent a tiny baby off with a stranger for weekly visits an hour and a half away with mom, gone to court and even been called to the stand to speak. These things were not easy, but they were possible because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. My “strength” was in reality His strength, I just had to be willing to let him use me, no matter how scary and impossible it seemed.

How has the church supported your family in this journey?
Our church has been wonderfully supportive! We are so blessed to attend a church with several other adoptive families and with many others who welcome and embrace adoptive families the way they would lovingly welcome any family. They brought us food, toys and kids clothes when we got new placements, gave us a platform to share our story, celebrated with us when our adoptions were finalized and continue to welcome any new placements we might have as we provide respite for other foster families.

– Jessica Stoffer