The following is a guest post by Relevant Church Partner Josh Suiter.

My wife and I have been involved in foster care for about three years now. In those three years she has sent me a lot of articles and blogs (I may or may not have read them all), but the ones I did read were always written not just by women, but mainly directed to women as well. I realized that more often than not, women are faster to jump on board with foster care and men are quick to have reservations. So I want talk to you guys, who I’m sure have the same fears and insecurities that I struggled with. And because I’m a guy and I don’t really know where to start, I’ll just start at the beginning.

I think my story is very similar to a lot of other men. My wife has always wanted to adopt. Her new job in a low income school system didn’t make the want any less. She came to me several times wanting to bring children home and I would not even entertain the notion. I am embarrassed to say I went as far as to tell her I’d rather not even hear about it. I didn’t want to hear it because I was so selfish and I would not want inconvenienced by being a little heart broken by the stories of these children. After a couple weeks of this going on it all changed for me one Sunday morning, and man I had NO idea it was coming! My wife and I had been attending church for about six months after being unchurched for about 10 years.

We came in and sat down on the very front row which was a bit out of the norm for us at the time. We were starting a brand new series titled “Broken” and I had not thought much about the subject. After the worship music, we sat down and started listening to the sermon. Honestly I was halfway invested when my wife leaned over to me about 5 minutes into the sermon and said, “this is gonna be bad for me”. Husband code meant she was probably going to cry a lot. The message was about orphans and it was a call to action on tackling this crisis of brokenness and that our community is under attack. At that point I really started to tune into the message. Immediately, I felt something that, to this day, I have not felt since and I get extremely emotional just thinking about it.

God spoke to me in a way like I have never experienced, it was not an audible voice, but it felt very close to it. It’s really hard to explain but I wept basically the entire message {remember we were sitting right in the middle of the front row} and from that day forward I knew we were called to do something, but I wasn’t sure what. That encounter changed me in so many ways. After that Sunday it took several days before I could really talk to anyone about what I had experienced because I would get so emotional I could barely talk. Once I finally got to a place where I could talk about it we sat down and tried to plan what the next step would be.

Our church asked anyone who felt a pull to help in this area to sign up for a meeting to see how they could partner together to tackle this crisis, so we decided to take that route. We had decided that we would probably try adoption because it would be too hard on us and the kids to have other children coming in and out of our home. I forgot to mention that we had twin 3 year olds. During this time, my wife had read a book by Mo Isom that talked about how she had just prayed for God to open the right doors to walk through. It really made sense to us in our current situation of knowing we were called to something but not sure what.

Well, fast forward a bit and our church partnered with a Christian placement organization and the first meeting that we show up to the first thing out of the presenter’s mouth is we are NOT an adoption agency. He explained how you can adopt through the foster care system but they do not recommend going through them if you are only intending to adopt. So, still not convinced we were supposed to foster we decided we would do respite care. After a month or so we went to a 3 day, 20 hour training. This is where God really began to show us His plan for us.

After many, many tears the very first night, my wife and I got in the car and started talking about what we had just experienced. After many, many more tears on the ride home we had both felt that through the first night of training we were being led to become foster parents, and man was that scary. As that weekend went on it became more and more clear that we were right where we were supposed to be and that God was opening doors for us to walk through. After the training, there was a mountain of paperwork and other boxes to check before we could actually become approved foster parents.

That process took us about 5 months.

This is something I haven’t shared with anyone; but if I’m honest, I was okay with it taking longer. I was scared that entire 5 months. I was comfortable with our family of 4 and honestly I had no idea what to expect. The unknown was very scary for me. My wife was persistent and punctual with everything that needed to be done. God taught me a lot of valuable lessons through this part of the process. One of those lessons is how strategic He is with the people He puts in your life. Through this whole process, without my wife and other friends I would have struggled to keep pushing towards what He called us to do. Unintentionally on my part, there were people in my life to hold me accountable and to be there for whatever needs may arise to make sure that I was successful.

We serve an INCREDIBLE GOD!

Once we were approved we fully expected to get a call within hours, maybe a couple days max. Well, this began a whole new learning curve. {Insert the next very valuable lesson: In the foster care system, whatever expectations you have can be thrown out the window.}

We waited from our approval date of July 5th until November 17th until our first placement. In that waiting, there were more lessons to learn. During this waiting period we experienced a lot of doubt. God really taught us to trust Him and stay the course on what He called us to do. For me, personally deep down, I was okay with not getting a call. I was comfortable still with our family and still scared at what change might bring. We did get a call after about 2 months to take in a Haitian boy about the same age as our children. The fact that we were watching “This Is Us” made it seem like he was meant for us {remember we have twins his same age}. Well, we got everything ready and made all the calls to friends and family that we were getting a placement the next day. The next day turned into the next week, which eventually changed to he is actually not coming at all {see I told you not to have expectations}.

This cancellation of placement really made us question so many things. This made us second guess our age range that we had selected because we were uncomfortable taking in children who were older than ours. We couldn’t take in children too young for day care because my wife and I both work. It seemed like we weren’t getting any calls because of our household limitations so we prayed about what we should do. We decided to stay with our age range but if the child was close to 6 weeks, we wanted to take the call and see if we could figure some childcare out until he/she could go to daycare.

About a month after this change, we finally got a call that would teach us SOOO many more lessons and will forever impact us in many, many ways. I will never ever forget how getting our first placement went down. I was working in a retail store building a Christmas display on a Friday afternoon and got a call from my wife. She said she received a call about a 3-day old girl who was in the NICU at the hospital and needed a home. Not many details were given and they asked if we would be willing to adopt, if it came to that. We were willing to adopt so she told the agency she would call me to see what I said. I told her we needed a plan for childcare because we could not just take off work until she went to daycare. She argued that we should just say yes and God will figure it out. After talking some sense into my wife that we could not just say yes without a plan we decided to ask our small group and our foster care ministry team at church for help.

My wife reached out to one of the leads of the group and she prayed with my wife. She encouraged my wife that we serve a mighty God and knew that this was our call and said she would reach out to her small group to help with care. Because my wife works in the school system she would have some time off around the holidays, but we still would need about 5 weeks covered before the baby would be able to go to daycare. We use a group texting app for communication for both groups (small group and foster care ministry team) so we put in those threads of the dates that we needed help.

Remember I’m in the middle of a retail store trying to get some work done during all of this.

My phone immediately starts blowing up with people responding to help. At first I was watching all the responses and eventually I was so overwhelmed with what was happening I had to focus on work to keep from tearing up in the middle of this store!

Within 20 minutes we had the entire 5 weeks covered by multiple people, it was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced.

I experienced something through this that I already believed but had not experienced on this level. Let me tell you, when you are walking through the doors God opens for you, HIS provisions will feel like miracles. It takes effort and action on our part but when it is God’s will He will show up and show out (and this was just the beginning). We called the agency back and told them yes that we would love to bring her to our home. Once we got home that afternoon all four of us got in the car and went to the hospital to pick her up. This was extremely exciting but also extremely scary for all of us. I always say it’s like finding out you’re pregnant and having the baby on the same day, especially since we were not expecting to get a newborn. Once we got to the hospital we realized a lot of the information we received was inaccurate. She was a couple days older than we were told originally and she was born with a lot of different drugs in her system. We were told that her mom received little to no prenatal care but the baby seemed to be pretty healthy, all things considered.

That day was so crazy and hectic for my wife and me, one thing I will never forget is how calm yet excited our kids were about the entire thing. Sometimes I honestly think they get it all more than we do. I am very thankful for the heart God has given them because they seriously have welcomed her and have been the BEST brother and sister to her since day one (another prayer answered).

We finally got home from this crazy emotional day to find a pile of clothes, toys, formula, diapers, wipes and other items on our front porch. Our church family had brought so much stuff we could barely get in the front door! God showed out in a big way that day. We were once again reminded of the amazing people He had so perfectly placed in our lives. And man, when you are brave enough to walk through the doors that God opens for you, He will quickly remind you of the incredible provisions that only He can provide. The next few months were a huge adjustment. Having a baby in the house again was tough, but she was a really good baby considering her start.

This story is still being written and I want to continue to update you on it as we travel this journey, but I want to leave you with this for now:

Sir, if you are reading this and you feel God pulling on your heart and you, like me, are scared of the change that it will bring. Maybe you are even scared of putting your heart out there because as men we think it’s not manly to put our hearts on the line. If you will let Him, God will turn those fears and insecurities into the biggest blessings. I’ll leave you with a quote that has never made more sense to me than it does now.

“You have no idea who or what hangs in the balance of your decision on what to do with a burden God put in your heart.”—Andy Stanley

Relevant Church

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