We packed inside the courtroom.
Family, friends and the people who had been a part of this case for so long.
My husband, myself, our 2 biological sons and our foster son sat in the front of the room and the judge looked at Jaquari and said –
“Would you like to be adopted today?”
And he said, “sure”!
But let me back up a little bit.
I was around 12-years-old when I remember driving through Manchester with my mom and seeing kids just all over the place.
Seemingly without their parents supervision, as I’m sure many of them were, they all sort of just roamed the streets.
I remember saying to my mom that I wanted to help these kids when I got older.
I didn’t really even know what that meant, but I just had a heart for hurting kids, even as a kid myself.
Fast forward to my junior year in college at Liberty University.
I clearly remember sitting on “the mansion lawn” as it was called and praying.
I told God that I really wanted to care for orphan boys.
Again, I didn’t really even know what that meant, but I just knew I wanted to make a difference in the world, and my heart was for kids.
Years passed, I married my high school sweetheart and we had 2 boys of our own.
We were serving in our church youth group and had the opportunity to minister to some teenagers who were in foster care.
Adam started taking classes to get licensed as foster parents so we would be able to provide respite care when needed.
Life was full, with 2 little boys, ministry, work and family, and we never completed the classes and home study.
When the boys were still very little, (infant and toddler) I didn’t think I could possibly handle more children.
I loved these boys more than anything, but I was tired.
I felt that my hands were so full, and having 2 kids in diapers was a lot to handle!
As the boys got a little bit older, I really felt like I wanted to have more kids, but Adam was very content with 2, and that was just the plan God had for us at that time.
I prayed and prayed that God would either change my heart, or change Adam’s.
But the older I got the more I realized that this was going to be what God wanted for our family.
Don’t get me wrong… this family of 4 God had blessed me with was beyond amazing.
It was incredibly fulfilling and I was so joyful as a mom of 2 boys!
I remember having conversations with Adam about the possibility of us adopting some day.
He said that he was open to that, and if God dropped it in our lap, that’s what we would do.
“God does not drop kids in your lap“, I thought!
“That is not how God works!”
But I just kept praying. Doubtful prayers, mind you.
But prayers nonetheless.
I kept my prayers mostly between myself and God and continued to write in my journal and wait.
In doubtful, hopeful expectation.
We took a trip to Florida to visit Adam’s parents one week in the Spring of 2015.
I wrote in my journal that I really felt like my heart was still for orphan boys and I didn’t know what God was going to do with that.
Honestly, the older I was getting, the more I felt like nothing really new or big could happen to someone as old as me.
I thought that maybe this idea of adoption and needy little boys was just a….I don’t know, a silly thought.
That following summer, Adam was working at night and I *randomly* decided to take AJ and Riley to a ministry that was being run by a friend of mine in the inner city of Manchester…the very streets that I had driven past with my mom as a kid and thought I could be involved with someday.
As we were leaving for the night, my friend Jenn walked me out to my car and asked if I wanted to adopt 3 kids.
She totally caught me off guard, and I don’t exactly know how I responded.
I think I said, “maybe?”
She showed me pictures of Jaquari and his 2 younger half-sisters that she was currently fostering.
I went home that night and told Adam about what happened, and the next thing I knew, we were setting up a date for us to meet the three kids.
Honestly, I had no idea what to think or feel at that moment, and I really didn’t know what Adam and the boys were thinking either.
We talked and prayed and agreed to at least move forward with getting licensed and just see where God went from there.
I am a firm believer that we should follow God and try to walk through open doors, with the complete understanding that if God wants to close the door, He certainly can.
So that’s what we did.
We just kept walking forward.
Doing what we could do, and trusting that God would open or close doors as He saw fit.
It would sound nice to say that everything worked together smoothly, no issues, everything fell into place perfectly and we all lived happily ever after.
Reality is a bit different, and there were some struggles.
Struggles within our family, unsure of what this would look like long term, unsure of how we could afford more children, unsure if we would even be able to follow through and be able to adopt, finding out that the girls would be taken away to live with their dad, going through so many emotional and spiritual battles along the way and having to come back to the very foundation we had based our lives on from the beginning of our marriage:
God is always good. And God is always in control.
And God had been watching out for Jaquari and making sure that he was surrounded by people who loved and cared for him even in dark times.
He had the most amazing social worker EVER, and she is now part of our family forever.
He also placed him in a loving foster home before ours, and filled his life with people who love Jesus and who love him!
God’s heart is for the needy, and we can look back over Jaquari’s life and see how God was watching him and loving him all along.
He sets the lonely in families, He tells us in Psalm 68, and he placed Jaquari in our family to complete him, to complete us, and to complete His plan.
And so 15 months after meeting Jaquari, we walked into a courtroom surrounded by our family and friends.
We walked into a room that we had walked into many times before, but never with a feeling of excitement and anticipation.
Always with a feeling of nervousness and anxiety.
But this time we walked in as a family.
A family of 5.
We walked in with a little boy who had changed drastically from the first day we had met him.
We walked in knowing that when we walked back out, it would be for the last time.
It would make us official.
It would be another reminder of the fact that God is always working, even when we don’t see it.
It would be a reminder of the fact that God saw the heart of a 12-year-old girl and took her seriously.
It would be a reminder of the fact that God’s timing and plan is always best, and a reminder that we need to just keep walking forward.
Trusting that He is good. Always.
It would be a reminder that the prayers of young mom were heard and answered…13 years after the prayers were prayed.
God is always good.
So when the judge said to Jaquari, “Would you like to be adopted today?”
And Jaquari said, “sure!”
It was just like…sure! Why not?
Let’s become a family.
And so we did.
And that is our story.
I don’t know what the rest of our story will look like, but I do know that this whole experience has shown me so much about who God is.
It has shown me more about the way God loves.
About the way God hears and about the way God answers prayers.
It has also shown me how thankful I am for my family and the support I get from them!
My parents, all my siblings and all their children came to the adoption.
My husband’s parents, and all his siblings are incredibly supportive and have welcomed Jaquari into the family as one of their own, and I am so grateful.
And I’m also reminded of how thankful I am for a godly husband and boys.
This family of mine who stays unified, stays close to Jesus and walks where He tells us to walk.
We are just going to keep walking forward.
My encouragement to you?
Don’t stop praying.
Even if it’s doubtful prayers.
Don’t stop trusting.
God is always in control and has a plan for your life!
And don’t stop walking forward.
Keep walking in faith, and let God handle the details.
He is a good God.