My name is Kristin Snellings and my husband Andy and I had talked about becoming foster parents for years. For me it started to become serious after my Papa passed away. As a child I knew that my Papa was adopted but he never talked about the details. After he passed away my uncle came across a writing assignment from when my Papa was in high school.
As my family sat around in my mom’s living room my uncle read things about my Papa’s childhood that I struggled to sit and listen to.
As we pulled out of my Mom’s driveway that day the emotions flooded me and I told my husband that I was supposed to do something with child advocacy. The following Sunday we visited Hope Community Church where we had visited several times. On that particular Sunday Jeff Marburger was preaching and teaching us about how it was our duty to care for the orphans and widows of this world. He went into detail about some of his foster care experiences.
When we left church I looked at my husband and said, “I’m going to talk to Jeff’s wife Mandy and get some more information.” He told me it was fine but he didn’t know if it was the right time since our children were so young and I was in school full time.
I reached out to Mandy who put me in contact with another family from Hope who had gone through a private agency. We contacted that private agency and the process began.
She came to our house every Monday night for the next 6 weeks.
...........Fast forward a few months.
It’s a random Wednesday afternoon and my phone rings and it’s someone from our private agency calling! I held my breath for a quick second in anticipation.
We had completed our MAPPS classes back in March and had gotten our license at the beginning of June. Since that point we were just waiting.
I answered the phone and she began to tell me of a child who had just turned two. A Blonde hair, brown eyed little boy who needed a home. We were told we would have to pick him up from his current daycare sometime Monday and that was all we knew.
I immediately called my husband to tell him the news and his instincts kicked in. We needed to figure out the logistics of what we were going to do with our newest family member.
We were leaving for our family vacation the very next morning and didn’t know if this sweet boy would be afraid, if he would be able to sleep, if going straight out of town would only confuse him more; we didn’t know what to expect. We decided that maybe having the buffer of the beach would be a good way to ease him into our chaotic family with his two new older brothers.
Monday morning finally arrived and my husband Andy, our five-year-old son, our seven-year-old son, and myself headed to pick up JD. I had made my husband leave the house extra early because I wanted plenty of time to sit in the floor next to JD and read him a story in order for him to become a little more comfortable with my presence. We pulled in at the center around 9:00 am and I walked in alone (so as not to overwhelm him) and explained to the childcare director why I was there and showed her all of my paperwork. She was already expecting me and turned to the next classroom, “JD someone is here to see you!”
A little chunky red-cheeked boy comes bouncing towards us, “Mommy, Hey!!” The director gave him a quick hug goodbye. He was smiling from ear to ear and with both arms he reached out for me and again exclaimed, “Mommy, Hey!” I quickly took him in my arms and rushed out to the car and proceeded to buckle him in! Once he was buckled, cup of water in hand and I was back in the front seat I could feel my husband look over.
“What happened?” he asks.
“I feel like my heart is going to explode. This baby called me mommy. He came right to me, that isn’t normal. Why did he come straight to me? I was prepared to stay here for hours if I needed to and he came running straight for me!”
I finally took my first breath since getting my hands on this baby boy. I turn around and look at his sweet face and catch a glimpse of my two boys just looking over at him, neither saying anything. I turn around and smile to my husband, “look how sweet he is"! About this time my son who is sitting behind JD in the 3rd row of our SUV reaches around the seat and tickles JD’s neck on each side and he lets out a shrill giggle and kicks his feet. My other son looks over and smiles timidly and then reaches over and tickles JD’s knee again causing shrill giggles. They each exchange a laugh and the car returns to silence. This was the beginning of life with 3 little boys. It’s loud and hectic and often really unorganized but it is our new normal.
My husband and I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions within the first few weeks of having our first foster child. We went from sad and sympathetic, to angry and disappointed, to overwhelmed and scared, to crying tears of happiness because we were laughing so hard at the dinosaur sized personality of the new addition to our clan.
We have had JD in our lives now for 28 days. We have been through 2 overnight home visits, he has had his first sickness, his first two-year-old tantrum, he’s been on his first ever beach trip, gone to family get-togethers, had friends over for cookouts, we have listened to him cry all the way through bath time , he has put himself to sleep at nights and he blows the sweetest kisses towards the door as we’re closing it.
This baby is part of our home, our family and our hearts. God has shown us many signs along our path since we were married 8 ½ years ago that have lead us here and we wouldn’t want life any other way. We are your typical family of 4 (now 5) with a dad who works for UPS and a mom who is finishing her bachelor’s degree while working full time as a preschool teacher. We take family camping trips each year and have to call into work sick some days and both work full time but we are raising our family what better way to bring up God’s children than in a loving home. We don’t live extravagantly but we are good parents.
We can serve our Lord and His “least of these” by offering a roof, a family, warm food, a bath, a bed, and a safe place to learn and grow.
Hopefully one day JD’s mom is ready & able to raise her baby, in which case we will squeeze him extra tight, probably cry more than a few tears, have to explain to our boys why “our baby” won’t be living with us anymore. However, we will make all these small sacrifices and feel all of these hurts because we know that JD for a time will be loved and cherished and safe in our arms until the day he can return to his Mommy. I would make the decision again every single day to love JD for as long as God needs us to not knowing how long that will be. And then we will do it again and again as we serve our God and the needs of the “least of these” all around us.