Today’s guest blogger is my dear friend, Lacey Holley. I’ve only known Lacey and her family for just over one year, but this Godly family’s love and commitment to others has been evident to me since the minute we met. That day she had one foster son strapped to her chest and one running around along with her two biological children – and I wouldn’t have known the difference between the four of them. I hope that you enjoy this post that Lacey was gracious enough to write for us, and that an interest may be sparked in someone’s life to begin the fostering journey. ~Keli
Everybody has a story. They are usually elaborate, some elegant, while others heartbreaking, but there is still a story. I do not have a sentimental or entertaining story as to why we became a foster family. Simply put, we wanted to grow our family. We started out thinking that adoption was the only avenue available to us to have a family – period. But God knew more than the medical professionals and we were blessed with two precious miracles. I love our seven-year-old daughter, Payten, and our five-year-old son, Hunter, very much and feel blessed to have them. When Hunter was two, we wanted more children. We wanted to add to our family, but medically we were done. With fostering we found a method that would allow us to add to our family and allow us to help many other children along the way.
We have been foster parents for three years and have had a little over 20 children in our home. But it was not until recently that I really realized the true reason that I do this. I was walking next to Hunter and he grabbed my hand, looked up, and said, “You know you really love someone when you grab their hand and it makes your heart happy, Mommy, and I love you.” Any mom out there would love these words to come from their son’s mouth, and I was no exception. As I fought back the tears, I thought about those words and it hit me like a ton of bricks; I do this mothering thing because it makes my heart happy. It probably makes me sound selfish to several of you reading this, and to some extent, it is. I have several God-given roles, but one of my favorites is being a mother.
Most people wonder why we chose to bring this craziness into our lives and honestly, there are too many reasons to list, but besides the happiness that it brings us, our main ones were that we love kids, we saw an opportunity to help, and also the possibility to grow our family.
People often tell me, “I couldn’t do this, because I would get too attached and not be able to say goodbye to these children.” I completely understand what people mean when they say this, but you to have understand that, at times, it makes me feel like you do not think I have a heart. Of course I am kidding, but that statement can be hurtful. The truth is: you get attached. You have to get attached for the children’s sake. You must show them what unconditional love looks like, because it may be the only example that they have received. Children could not care less that your home is larger and cleaner, that they have more toys, or that they are getting fed and bathed. The only thing that they notice is that you are strangers and not their mommy or daddy.
It is difficult to realize that no matter what, you will never fill that void for them. You can love them and comfort them through all of this, but when it is time for that weekly visit with Mom and/or Dad, they cannot wait to get away from you and see their family. While this hurts a great deal, it is also a comfort. It lets me know how our biological children see and feel about us. It also helps to know that when the day comes, and we must say goodbye, that they are exactly where God intends them to be. You have to be willing to love them as your own, make them part of your family, and then let them go when the time comes. We do this, but we could not do it alone. I have prayed a lot that God will give our family hearts that can stretch enough to love all of these children, but ones that also will allow us to let go. Thus, it’s that much harder to let them go, but we have to believe that God is in control and remember that He has a plan for us all. I can honestly say I could never do this without His help.
I also hear “I could not do it, because it would be too difficult to have more children in addition to my own.” The first month with any kiddo is difficult. They have just been thrown into a new home, so they test every boundary to see where they belong and exactly what they can get away with. They have to get used to our routine, which is extremely regimented. Most of them do not fight this. I have found that they do much better when they know what to expect next. We may not hit the same times every day, but most day’s events happen in the same order. It helps to alleviate most behavioral issues when you prove that you are consistent in all that you do. It takes about a month to feel safe and begin to naturally fall into our routine. It’s important to put the month of work in for any child that comes into my home. It makes it easier the more children that you add to it, because any new guest learns from all of the other children already in my home.
The one saying that I hear the most often is “It’s so sad to send these children back home to the terrible situations that they were pulled out of in the first place.” I will be the first to admit that before our family started doing this, I was terrified of the things that our children would be exposed to in our own home. I thought that all children in foster care were taken from their homes due to drug abuse, physical abuse, or neglect. I am not going to tell you that these things do not happen, but they are certainly not the largest problem that we have seen in the last three years. Most of the children in our home have come because they have a single mom who cannot balance child care/supervision, work, and finances.
They have no support system surrounding them. They are alone, raising their children, and struggling to make it through every day. This breaks my heart when I see this particular struggle. We have no biological family that lives close to us that can drop everything and help in a moment’s notice. However, we do have our church family that will do everything to help one another. We could change so much just by inviting these people into our lives and offering to aid them as they work through their current issues. The drugs, abuse, and neglect are present in this world, but at the end of the day, these are all people in a desperate situation that need help. The best way we can help is to give their precious children a safe place to live while they can work through whatever battles they are fighting.
It has been three years and we are still learning as we go. We have four foster sons in our home with us at this time, and they are all under the age of three. We have a crazy, exciting, exhausting life. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. This choice comes with its fair share of heartache, but it is so worth it.
If you have been considering this decision, I encourage you to discuss it, study it, and pray about it together as a family. If it is something that you still feel strongly about, start the journey. Tell all of your family and friends so that you can get all of these people praying for your family, as well as all of the future children that will come into your home. If I can help in any way, or answer any questions, please reach out. If I do not know the answer, I will find it for you.
I appreciate you reading my post and getting a small glimpse of what my life is like as a foster mom. It may not be easy, but at the end of the day it makes my heart happy.
Lacey has been married to her college sweetheart Brandon for eight years, and is mom to two of the kindest and most beautiful children, Payten (7) and Hunter (5), in addition to the sweet little ones they constantly welcome into their home and love as their own. In the rare moments that she isn’t devoting her time to her kiddos, Lacey enjoys reading and cooking. The Holleys are members at 151st St. church of Christ in Olathe, KS where Brandon serves as a deacon.