In celebration of Mother's Day weekend, we want to feature an interview with Lianna's sister, Becky, who is a mother of five children—two of whom are adopted through foster care. After being a foster parent for five years and ultimately adopting her two daughters through that journey, she now advocates for foster and adoptive children and their families. She started an Orphan Care ministry at her church, serving as a leader of her local Orphan Care Alliance Connect support group. She is a founding member of Together in the Trenches, a gospel-driven, non-profit retreat ministry for foster and adoptive moms parenting children from hard places. Becky lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband and five children. She loves to teach, serve on worship team at her church, and live life with family and good friends.
Lianna: "Your family has changed a lot in the last few years through fostering and then, ultimately, adopting two daughters. What compelled you to begin fostering?"
Becky: "That's a bit of a long story, I guess. Adoption always intrigued me. By 2006, I had two sons and was pregnant with my third baby. When the ultrasound revealed 'third boy,' I figured God had a girl out in the world that needed our family. It was just my logical conclusion. I love that story because it shows my girls that they really became a part of our family in my mind in 2006…and God had always known. It was 3 years later that my husband said fostering is something he felt we should and could do to obey and follow God. There's the shortened version."
L: "What has been the biggest challenge and the biggest encouragement?"
B: "There are many challenges. Realizing how much there is to learn is a constant challenge. Gradually coming to grips with the fact that my previous perspectives of adoption and foster care were flawed was a big challenge! Opening your life and home to a bunch of new people you barely know is an act of faith to say the least. Dealing with a child's behaviors I was unfamiliar with was difficult too and still can be. The good thing about challenges, though, is that it becomes very evident that God is at work. Soon the challenges aren't so overwhelming anymore and become points of growth and learning. Sometimes I cringe when I look back on our naiveté and mistakes, but then I remember, 'you don't know what you don't know,' and appreciate how God has taught me through His Word, His Spirit, and people along the way.
The biggest encouragement is our two beautiful and precious daughters God entrusted to us."
L: "What Bible verse or verses have meant the most to you?"
B: "Hmmm. The whole Bible, I guess. Haha. Honestly, though, it's seeing God's love and desires for the people of this world—especially the marginalized—that have shaped me. I believe that's how God wants us as His children to be shaped too. Serving those from whom we can reap absolutely no personal benefit is the heart of pure and undefiled religion according to the often-sited James 1:27 (which in my vast theological knowledge should really be the beginning of James 2…haha): 'This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and keep oneself unstained by the world.' James 2 goes on to tell us that it is so easy for us to be partial to those who have something to offer us—and that's wicked—so caring for the orphan and widow is a window into the motives of our heart. It shows us if our faith is working correctly.
This has been extremely convicting—and also comforting—when things get hard.
Fostering is complicated. It can be a moral dilemma. I believe God's first purpose for people’s lives is full and complete restoration—to be made whole. For this reason, I believe God's desire is for children to be with their first parents. The fact I have two girls means in some way, His original and beautiful intent was broken by the sin of this world. I also know that He redeems and creates. He created my family in His equally perfect plan. So, practically, to keep my conscience aligned with Him, I prayed and hoped for the girls' parents to be made whole, to make good decisions, and to reunite. The girls were not orphans. They had parents.
So we loved our girls for 2-3 years like our own before the law rendered them parentless. We were then able to make them our family forever—which was God's plan from the start. So, what verse is my lifeline in a complicated foster world? 'For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart' (Heb. 4:12).
Only He can give wisdom and courage to do and to love how He desires in each and every unique circumstance."
L: "How would you have described your family before fostering versus now—what growth and changes do you see?"
B: "Some changes may be that our boys are more aware of people different than them and are more patient and compassionate overall. Fostering is a challenge, which allows for a lot of refining. We're made aware of character faults like lack of patience, a desire for ungodly control, lack of faith, etc. Dealing with those things yields good fruit though. We're still us. We still have our 'family culture,' the same that God paired with our beautiful daughters, but in many ways we're new and improved. There are also scars. Love and sacrifice can do that, but God uses wounds in powerful ways. We can't be scared of scars. Jesus has a few!
I, for one, am forever grateful for the victory He exchanged for His sacrifice!!! I hope and pray that in some small way we have been a picture of that."
L: "Do you have any advice for those seeking to become either foster or adoptive parents?"
B: "My largest piece of advice for those considering foster care or adoption is to first, pray. Check all your motives and then trust the Lord for anything that comes. Secondly, become a student of raising children from hard places. In all adoption or foster care, there is loss. The need for you to be an adoptive or foster parent originated in hurt in the child's life. God redeems. That's the good news and where we find our role as His hands and feet, but it is a huge disservice to everyone involved if we have an ounce of pride in our parenting ability or due to false expectation. Clothe yourself in humility. Learn. Surround yourself with people who have gone before you to learn from. And be encouraged! You are following after the heart of God!"