A family by any name is family

I grew up with a pretty traditional sibling arrangement.

My parents were blessed with their eldest child, thought their initial success warranted trying again…and they spent three attempts trying to replicate the success with the oldest child.

They will swear that they love us all equally, but the truth is really known by any eldest child out there - it’s always the baby that they love the most.

Growing up in the environment I did, I had cousins galore to play with at family gatherings, and being one of the older cousins, I saw my cousins begin to get married and have children of their own as well.

While I always wanted to be a father, I’ll admit that there was always something off about the “traditional” family that didn’t feel like the way I was called to be a dad someday.

Perhaps there’s a reason that my wife and I didn’t meet until my mid-30s.

By then, I’d worked in youth ministry, taking my youth to camps where I heard the stories about parents adopting their children.

It was while working security for a music festival that a fellow security worker really caught my ear. He and his wife did foster care and they were in the process of adopting a child that had originally come into their home from the foster care system. I was a single man, but that was the fatherhood model that finally clicked for me. I knew that was the model that I wanted to do.

My wife was on board when I mentioned this during our dating, and I knew I’d found the one for me.

We pursued foster care classes as soon as possible once we were married, and once we were certified, I was once again away at the same music festival providing security when my wife sent me a picture of a four-month-old baby, our first foster child.

He would be with us for seven months, and he was an excellent introduction to the world of foster care for my wife and I, both in working with parents to help transition a child back to parents and also in preparing our hearts for that tough separation that would come eventually for any foster parent.

However, we made it known from the beginning that we were willing to adopt, and on January 2, 2017, we had three siblings placed in our home. They were supposed to be cleared for adoption, but as we found out, that could mean a lot of hurdles yet along the way.

In early November of 2017, we had another young girl placed in our home who was notably farther along the path to be available for adoption.

The four meshed together tremendously well as they are four consecutive years in school. There are moments that any parent will remember forever, but for an adoptive parent, there are others that claim your heart forever.

My youngest climbed into my lap in the midst of a discussion about whether their birth father or birth mother’s current boyfriend or someone else entirely should be considered “daddy” in their life. She loudly proclaimed to her siblings, “Ben is MY daddy!”

The darned room gets dusty still today remembering that moment.

December 3, 2018, our first adoption became final on our daughter’s fifth birthday. March 15, 2019, the three siblings were adopted together. December 29, 2019, all four were baptized in the midst of a blizzard.

This month is National Adoption Month. Our family wouldn’t exist without adoption, and there are so many amazing children out there just waiting on parents with the hearts big enough to let them in.

I can speak from experience that the love you give is minuscule compared to the love those children have waiting for you.

Fostering is not for everyone. Adoption is not for everyone. However, if you have questions, please reach out to someone to ask real questions because there are children right here in Huron needing a family to love and care for them!