(*Before you freak out, the above photo is of James holding a friend’s newborn. We do not have a baby…yet! Read on to learn more.)
We’ve been absent from this little corner of the web these past 10 months because we’ve been in a huge time of waiting. God has been at work in ways we couldn’t even see until we look back in awe as the pieces of the puzzle come together.
Our call to adoption
Early on in our dating relationship, James mentioned the idea of adoption. While I had always known I wanted kiddos, I have never really thought about adoption. I think there’s an innate desire to experience pregnancy and have biological children, and I wrestled with the possibility of letting that go. But God worked in my heart, reminded me of my (Haley’s) own birth (IVF), and His heart for adoption, and eventually God called me to sacrifice the part of me that wanted biological children. Since those early months of dating and considering a future of adoption, God opened our eyes to see a need for foster parents. Many children who have already experienced traumas experience another trauma when they are taken from their families of origin. Children don’t choose foster care, but we have an opportunity to choose these children.
The Process of Foster Care
We’ve been holding this hope since those first months of our marriage, and when we felt like God was prompting us to apply for foster care, we hesitated. After our first orientation training, we were scared, uncertain, and disheartened. The stories we heard that night were heartbreaking, and the stakes seemed too high. Yet God called us to the second training where we felt reassured and encouraged to continue the process of becoming approved foster parents. That was December ’16 and February ’17. We had our background check and finger printing done in the spring, and it took nearly 6 months to get the results back from our out-of-state residences (Iowa for Haley’s college days and Texas from James’s year with MissionYear). During these months we worked our way through trainings, both in-person and online, and slowly but surely made updates and changes to our home. We finished our autobiographical information packet which walked through the many influences our own upbringings had on how we might parent and helped our caseworker prepare our home study paperwork. Finally, last Tuesday, we had our home study, and our caseworker submitted our recommendation for certification to DHS on Wednesday. In 2-3 weeks we will receive that certification and begin to be considered for placements of children 0-6 years of age. Our hearts are bursting as this year of waiting comes to a close. While we will wait eagerly for God to place a child in our care, the initial hurdles have been cleared!
Embracing the Chaos
During this process, we (read I/Haley) have been learning to embrace the chaos. For a month this last spring we had not just one, but two, friends living with us, before they were able to move into their new place. Over the spring/summer a basement project grew to an eventual addition of a bedroom and bathroom (it’s still not finished; it’s slow). This fall we welcomed a friend-of-a-friend into our home and into our family as a new housemate. She braved both the foster care background check and one for the eventual adoption of our newest and third pup, Chloe. We’ve finally closed off the stairs to our second story and secured the bottom step, but the paint and handrails will come someday. The bathroom has a new vanity, mirror, and light fixture, with fresh paint to follow. We’ve slowly unpacked more and more stuff to settle into our house and managed to clear out much of the clutter and excess. We’ve continued to invite friends over and fill our house to capacity as children and dogs have brought life to every gathering. Even now the two pups are playing behind me and reminding me of what I can and cannot control in the midst of training! (But I’ll still try to calm their play-fighting.)
Restructuring our Home
As summer came to a close, it became apparent that God’s call on our home meant changes would need to be made. James applied for jobs, and God continued to bless Haley Earley Photography + Design. The process was long, and doors were closed, but God showed us His plan as James accepted a position as the director of youth engagement and outreach at a church in Eagan. The day after the job offer, our caseworker reached out to let us know we were on the final stretch of our application for foster care. During this time, we wrapped up our online trainings and scheduled our home study. We felt God’s confirmation once again that this was His call for our home and our family when we discovered that my resignation from The Salvation Army lined up with the timeline for when we should expect our license for foster care to arrive.
James began his full-time job at Peace Church at the beginning of December, and with the start of the New Year, I (Haley) will be working from home as I fully invest in my photography business, allowing me to be home with any foster kids we get to love and support as we pray for their eventual reunion to their birth parents. In the case that a child isn’t able to return to their biological family, we hope to adopt and grow our home and family; but the aim of foster care, and our prayer, is that families will be reunified. We are so incredibly blessed to be on this journey and to look back on the past year and the ways that God has worked through the many ups and downs we’ve experienced. I am humbled again and again by the ways God has made things possible when I questioned and doubted. We are continually amazed at His ability to bring beauty and purpose to moments and experiences that appeared ridiculous in the moment. It’s a small lesson that will grow with each step forward we take on this path that God is directing for us. We pray that we will follow faithfully in allowing His hand to guide our steps.
Now we need your support! I need people to recommend Haley Earley Photography + Design and help me live out this passion. We need people to help us finish our basement and the oodles of skills that will take. We need play pens and toys and clothes for the wee babes who will enter our home. We need friends to reach out when things get crazy and we might forget to embrace some adult time and connect with y’all. We need your prayers and your compassion as we venture forth into a new adventure.
Thank you. Thank you all for the ways in which you have guided and supported us to this point and the ways you will walk with us moving forward. We are blessed.