Foster care isn’t as scary as it sounds, in fact, we would describe it as an honor! You meet these children and their parents on their worst day and acknowledge their tears and hurt. You sit in court hearings rooting for their parents and have the opportunity to teach these kids that they are surrounded by love. You help to fight off demons of the past and brighten their future. You experience some children’s ‘firsts’ and some children’s ‘lasts’. You experience grief, as a child returns home, alongside joy as you watch that family become whole again. As a foster parent, you commit to the child’s parents that you will keep their child safe and one day they will go home to them. We are honored to be in these spaces, places, and hearts.
My name is Sarah Jackson and I am married to the best husband in the world, Kevin Jackson. We started this foster care journey three full years ago, while I was only 23 and Kevin 28. When Kevin and I first met, we both had a deep longing to be parents. After our wedding, in 2012, we immediately began trying to start a family. With no luck and lots of doctors appointments, we learned we had infertility issues. We didn’t dwell on the ‘whys’ for too long, though, and with some luck and lots of training we began the certification process to becoming adoptive parents in Nevada.
In 2014, we moved away to Oregon. Upon moving, we jumped right back into training, literally. We arrived on a Saturday and by the following Friday we were sitting on plastic chairs at the local DHS office starting the process all over again. Adoption on our minds and hearts, we endured another hard and emotional round of training. We submitted our application and waited….. and waited…. and finally I called our certifier to ask when we would become a licensed adoptive home. We learned that day, that adoption out of foster care in Oregon, though possible, was a long and hard wait.
We NEVER wanted to be foster parents. Everything we had heard about fostering was bad. Horror stories of children ruining your home, stealing cars, abusive foster parents, abusive children. If there was one thing we knew, we knew we would NOT be fostering. Never. But, we prayed. Continually. And, eventually, we called our certifier back and said we’re in!
After weeks of nothing, I was feeling hopeless. I remember waking up April 1st 2015 and feeling emotionally everywhere. Asking Kevin, why we had no children, where God was in all of this, why us, why? I called up a friend and told her that I needed a walk and to talk out these feelings of hopelessness. We went on a long walk, we laughed and cried, and we sat down to pray. The cement was freezing, the wind had picked up, and tears were streaming down my face at the pain and uncertainty of everything. We prayed for over an hour. After, I jumped in my car, cranked the heater and some music, and started to head home, knowing that I would see two empty bedrooms, and three empty beds when I returned. No sooner did I pull into the driveway then did my phone ring. It was DHS and, as I can recall, the conversation went a little something like this:
“Sarah? Hey its (DHS Worker) we have some boys for you!”
“Is this a cruel April fools joke?”
“No Sarah, they are 6 years old and almost 2, they are brothers. (more information about
the case), call Kevin and talk it over.”
I was in shock. I called Kevin, joyous tears streaming down my face, we talked about everything and agreed, yes, this is where we are meant to be. Yes, Yes, YES!!! I had one hour until their arrival. I ran to the store bought car seats, boosters, clothing, diapers, wipes, snacks, school supplies, and anything I could think of. I had no idea that that day would change our lives.
Three years later, 15 children later, we have grown and blossomed and our love for these children has flourished. There have been ups and downs, there has been long nights and hospital stays, laughs, tears, owies, trips to the ocean, trips to the zoo and sometimes just plain trips ending in band aids. We had moments that rocked us to our cores. While on the phone with her much older sister, nine-year-old Pricess B exlaimed, “yea, you won’t believe it, they eat dinner here every single night!” This was the night when we realized the impact that we had on these children’s lives just by saying ‘yes’ to fostering.
Everyone deserves love, everyone deserves a safe place, a hot meal, a bed to call their own, a house to go to when they are feeling unsafe. Every child deserves peace, a good night’s sleep, and school supplies.
There are moments, when sitting on the couch after a really hard visit day, everyone else is asleep, and I wonder who needs who more. I have realized that I am helping these tiny souls heal, and that they are helping me realize how much greater this world is. They have expanded my bubble, in fact the bubble popped, and I am left wondering how I went my entire life without experiencing this part of life.
Currently, we are on a fostering break, as we work our way through two adoptions, we talk often of when we will get a new placement. With hopes to finalize in August for both of our girls, we are excited to see where this road takes us. All we know right now is that our home is plastered with three years of memories, including 15 children. Memories linger in our minds of belly laughs and late night ice cream drives. Our souls dance thinking back on every single call we said yes to, and on some days we even remember the calls where we had to say no. We pray continuously for all of our children, even if they only occupied our home for a few hours.
About the author:
Sarah is an active member of the non-profit Action Through Advocacy (ATA). ATA provides foster children and families a free shopping experience with donated goods at their Hope Chest building. Additionally, offering tutoring and aging out services to foster youth, working to bring kids up to speed and lower the number of foster teens who become homeless, incarcerated or deceased after leaving care. Additionally, keep on the look out for their Candy Cane Lane holiday event, when they gather donated toys, provide free childcare, and allow foster parents to ‘shop’ the toys while eating cookies and drinking hot coffee, and at the very end ATA wraps the gifts!