Update: The heart of a single mom
How is this family doing today?
Some time ago, we featured the story of a Canadian single mom who, at that time, was hoping to adopt her two foster children (see The Heart of a Single Mom). More recently, we contacted this mom to find out how her family is doing.
Here's an update on her beautiful family:
Could you share with us where you are now in your journey of parenting the children you have been fostering and in the process of adopting?
After fostering my children for a little over two years, our adoption was finally granted on December 11, 2013. The day we found out was full of celebration. In a way I was holding my breath all along not trusting that it would all pull through successfully. However, when it finally happened, it was the biggest sense of relief and joy I have ever felt. My two were officially my two and we were a real family!
Now we are working hard on building our little family. That means we spend a lot of time working through attachment and trust issues. My hope has always been that the children would have their best shot in life, because we were diligent in making sure that any struggles they have because of their early years are met with the best resources we can find. I hope that all the things that could be considered a suffering for them actually become a strength. I hope that their stories become something that help them see how incredibly persevering and resilient they are.
How has the journey been different than you originally expected?
Although it felt like a long and often confusing and arduous process, we were really blessed with a relatively easy journey. We were also able to work with some truly outstanding social workers near the end who helped us through the entire process and were so happy to see us made an official family. I guess I now see how truly blessed our adoption story is. I know that not everyone has it this easy, so I am incredibly grateful for how God brought our family together.
What supports have you found along the way that have been especially helpful to you?
I always thought becoming a single mother through adoption might come with some judgments. I was concerned that the church that I attend and work at would be a place where some of that judgment would happen. However, I have been completely overwhelmed with the amount of support, care and love we have received. We were given a “family shower” in lieu of a baby shower that my kids still talk about. The way we have been continuously encouraged has made me so proud of my church family.
What has been the most challenging thing you have had to deal with along the way?
I think there are two things that have been the most challenging. The first was just the actual fostering process. Fostering is not for the faint of heart; it is hard work with a lot of heartbreak. It is full of much risk, but it is also full of much reward. Fostering was one of the hardest but most fulfilling things I have ever done and I really hope that, as our family becomes more solid, it is something that can become part of our family’s story again. I know that both kids would benefit from seeing how being a part of the foster system is not something to be ashamed of, but something that changes lives. It changed theirs and I hope one day they can be a part of changing the life of another child.
I also find knowing how to best care for issues resulting from their early years really hard to navigate. Every parent wants his or her child to be happy and healthy. However, when your kids have experienced suffering that has left a negative impact on them, you desperately want to fix it for them. You want to make up for all the things that happened to them before you became a part of their lives. But that healing is a lifelong process full of lots of different resources and professionals who help in ways you can’t, and finding those resources and people can be incredibly difficult.
How have you seen God at work in identifiable ways along the path you have been walking?
When I look at how we came together as a family, I see God’s hand in it all, without a shadow of a doubt! My kids’ early beginning could have been much worse than what it was, but how God cared and protected them all along is absolutely incredible. How God provided me, a single mom, with these two amazing kids who fit into my family in such a profoundly perfect way has shown me how God ‘s plan for each of us can never be doubted. Finally, how we continue to grow together and how every day I see that we were meant to be a family has shown me that God’s love is ever present and has the power to heal us all.
What words of wisdom would you offer to those who may be interested in “following in your footsteps”?
To someone thinking of following in my footsteps I would say, If God has put a passion in your heart for fostering or adoption, do it! Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Don’t be afraid to risk it all for the sake of a child who deserves the love that you were uniquely created to give. Whether you are married or single, there is a child who deserves the love and life you can give them.
Has Focus on the Family Canada’s End the Wait/Waiting to Belong initiative been of help to you?
I am a huge advocate of the End the Wait initiative! As someone who has gone through both the fostering and adoption journey, I know of no other organization that cares as deeply and supports as widely as End the Wait. I have found the one-on-one care provided to me by those who work with End the Wait to be life changing and affirming. The seminars, workshops and other resources they provide have been immeasurably helpful as I navigate the individual care of my children and the development of my family. As someone who works in the church with children and families, I can honestly say that End the Wait is building God’s family in ways that not many are. I am incredibly grateful to them for everything they have done for me, my children and all the children who are still waiting for a family to call their own.
Carleen Koop loves being a mom and a children's ministry director in Calgary, AB.