Saying Yes to the Adventure of Foster Care – Emily’s Story

The call came from a DHS supervisor at midnight: “We have a three-year old girl at the hospital. Her mom was shot and is not expected to live through the night. Her dad has been arrested. Domestic violence. All clothing was taken by police as evidence so if you could bring a blanket that would be great. Can you come pick her up?” Yes.

The call came from a CPS worker while I was making dinner: “I just came on the scene to find a four-year old boy sitting in the back of a police car. His clothing is soaked with urine from his mentally unstable mother; he may have lice, and he is filthy. Can we bring him to your house?” Yes.

The call came from another county as we were getting ready for bed. “We have a two-year old who is sound asleep at the DHS office now. She was brought to the ER with an injury. Her mom was so high on drugs she could hardly function. This little girl is adorable. We just need someone who can take her for the night. Could you?” Yes.

The call came from the placement desk while I was in the middle of a run. “We have a tiny, ten-day old baby boy. Things aren’t working out with his current foster home, and we need to move him. Do you have an infant car seat?” Yes.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

My husband and I are biological parents to two young kids, as well as foster parents to a revolving crew of kids under the age of five. A friend, who also fosters, once told me that calls from DHS are like a Create-Your-Own-Adventure Game. Each “yes” takes your family on a wild new adventure you never expected. I always wonder what adventure we are missing out on with the calls we can’t take.

We say yes because these broken babies need a safe place to land. They need a mommy to wrap them in blankets and tuck them in at night. They need a daddy to hoist them up on his shoulders and gallop them around the backyard. They need clothing that fits and food that nourishes. They need to be tickled and trained and taken to the zoo. They need boundaries. They need love.

I have been surprised to find how much we need these little people, too. They are sweet and feisty and stubborn and funny. They keep us on our toes and teach us lessons we need to learn.

People tell me all the time, “I don’t know how you do it! I could never become a foster parent. It would be too hard to say good-bye to the kids once I’ve gotten attached.” And I get it, I do. I used to say the exact same thing. But now, I wonder what in the world I was thinking. Was I serious? It would be too hard for… me?

Make no mistake. It is hard. There are plenty of days when I feel like I just don’t have it in me to do this. My ideas and energy and patience fall flat. Some kids have night terrors, others have accidents. You wash a lot of sheets. You fold a lot of socks. You buy a lot of diapers. There are endless meetings and appointments and phone calls. There are false accusations and frustrating decisions. Foster parenting can be tough.

And yet these kids are forced to do hard things every single day, through no fault or choice of their own. They are abused and neglected and forced to fend for themselves. They are separated from siblings and shuffled from place to place. Kids in the foster care system have endured more hurt in their short lives than most of us will pause to think about, let alone experience, in our own.

The next phone call will come. And my husband and I will say yes. Not because we are some amazing poster family for foster care. We will say yes because these kids are forced to do hard things. The least we can do is look into their broken eyes and say, “Yes. I will do hard things with you. I will hold your hand and kiss your head and calm your tantrums. By God’s grace, we will figure this out together.”

When it is time to say good-bye, I will wash their clothes and pack their stuffed animals. I will ache and cry and wish it could be different. But I will never regret saying yes.


Emily is a foster mom in Portland, Oregon, who has been married to the love of her life for almost 12 years. They have two adorable kids, who keep them laughing and Googling. Emily also volunteers with Embrace Oregon.

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28 thoughts on “Saying Yes to the Adventure of Foster Care – Emily’s Story

  1. Wow! What a great example you set! I hope others will have the courage to take this leap of faith themselves. We “unofficially” did foster care once. The story was exactly the opposite of what the parents told us. They were a nightmare, the little one was a joy. Thankfully it all turned out well. While it was hair-pulling for us, I can see how God called us to stand in the gap. While we’re not called to do foster care, God has also called us to do hard things. For us it was traveling to Africa at a time when, because of chronic pain, I could barely walk. We’re now making preparations for trip #6 😉 Never say never!

  2. Emily,
    This brought tears to my eyes. Last year I was working at a barn where I taught riding lessons and was asked to assist with a troubled teen program – something I had never done. The teen I worked with was a girl in the foster care system, age 16. I come from a very stable family and had no experience with foster care, but I worked with her for 12 weeks and watched how the family who fostered her discipled her daily. A year later, I attended her baptism, and this weekend, I am attending her adoption party by the family. It has changed everything I knew or thought about foster care, and has enabled me to better reach out to the young women I minister to on my own blog. Thanks for this post! Even as a 24 year old not-yet-mother, it was amazing to have a hand in this young woman’s life and see how the right family sacrificing time, money and energy to do foster care brought her to Christ.

  3. I love your perspective – that we say yes to suffering in order to be WITH those who suffer – this is what Christ did, isn’t it? Visiting from Unforced Rhythms.

  4. Wow! What a blessing it must be to love these kids, even if its only for a little while. And what a blessing you and you husband must be to these kids.

    Visiting from the R&R link-up. God bless! : )

  5. You may never realize the impact you are making on the lives of these children. The infants won’t remember being in your home, but the other little ones will!

  6. This is such an inspirational post. My husband’s aunt Fosters and she actually has just adopted one of the little girls she took charge of a few years ago. Foster parents do an amazing job and I am in awe of all the work you do. xx

    • It takes amazing, strong people to be foster parents. Thank you for stopping by M2M, I hope you come back each week for more real mom stories!

  7. A foster parent has the added burden of dealing with many misconceptions from the public because of a few bad eggs. My hats off to you and all that you do! It is not always easy. Thanks for stopping by and linking up at the Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop! We are so glad you came! Blessings, Shari @

  8. My husband and I recently took in a little girl who needed a safe place. We had her for one month.We have also taken in many others before her “unoffically”, .It is amazing and challenging at the same time. We had been considering becoming foster parents for awhile, when we took in this last little girl, it sealed it for us. God told us we were finally ready and we need to take the leap. We are at the very beginning stages of starting the licensing process, but I look forward to it. As chaotic and heartbreaking as it can be for us, we think about what the children are going through..We love children of all ages, so I know it will be challenging, but really, a little bit of love goes a very long way…

  9. That’s beautiful! And encouraging to give this idea some more thought and prayer. Honestly, I don’t think our family is in a place to seriously consider doing this at this time (due to space restrictions- I know they do consider things like this during the home studies or whatever- just not sure how much) but down the road when God gives us the resources it would be an awesome thing to do. Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. I’m also one of those who says it would be too hard to let them go—or too hard on my own kids to say goodbye—etc. etc. etc. Thank you for being a blessing and for opening our eyes.

  11. God has given you so much love so that you can pour into those who need it, who need Him. Was truly blessed by your story.

  12. What a heart wrenching yet inspirational story! What a blessing Emily and her family are to the children that come into her home! It is so sad to think that any child has to endure the hardship of abuse or neglect. Thank God for people like Emily who are willing to open their hearts and homes. Thank you for sharing on Makeovers & Motherhood’s Welcome Party Wednesday Link-Up!

  13. Wonderful description of fostering, the heart behind it all. I’m so glad you shared with this Cozy Reading Spot. It was the perfect read for my morning!


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