I remember when my sister first told me she was going to become a foster mother. 2 years ago she messaged me on Facebook, writing out the details of her plans for that year. She took a hard look at what she wanted to accomplish in life, the legacy she would leave and what God had planned for her. It was clear to her that God was calling her to be a foster mom.
I’ve always know that my sister Julianna would be an incredible mom. I spent our years growing up together admiring her as a person and as a babysitter. She’s always had a way with kids. As great as I knew she would be as a foster mom, I was nervous for her. As a busy, social, single woman in her late 20s, the thought of her taking a child into her home sounded stressful. From what I knew, fostering children can be an emotional, heartbreaking process. But I knew that Julianna’s heart was strong enough and capable of taking on this challenge.
Her first set of foster kids arrived in June 2014. I actually met the three kids at my wedding. I remember seeing my sister before the ceremony began with the kids, a set siblings who were 7, 5 and 3 at the time. Julianna introduced them to me and I could see the uncertainty in their eyes, but they were so sweet and quiet. I wasn’t quite sure how to act towards them, but I did what I knew best; show them love and acceptance.
Over the next year I got to know each kid and their heartbreaking story. I watched my sister grow from a foster mom to a mama bear who loved and adored her kids. Each kid was loved and accepted as a part of the family. January 2015 the kids’ biological newborn baby sister was placed with Julianna shortly after her birth. I watched my sister nurture and love this little baby. The kids were so excited to have their little sister with them; the family felt complete.
Unfortunately a few months later baby A went back to her biological mother, leaving Julianna and the kids heartbroken. As painful as it was to not have baby A around, there was a silver lining: the three older kids would be starting the process to be able to be adopted. Our family couldn’t wait to officially have the kids be legally ours.
As time went on, we hoped and prayed that baby A would return to Julianna. We knew that the mother was probably not making great decisions and we so badly wanted to love and protect baby A. The kids’ biological mother had a court date, and my sister was told to be prepared to take baby A home if the court decides to take her from the mother once again. Finally that call came and Julianna went to pick up baby A and bring her back into her loving home.
I was so ecstatic that she was back, she truly felt like the missing piece to the family. Over the next few months I watched as baby A went from being a skinny, neglected baby, to a happy and healthy toddler. My son Connor and baby A bonded quickly and were nearly inseparable when together. I could see how happy my sister was with her four kiddos and that they were loved and adored.
Great news brought much joy to the entire family: Julianna would legally become the three older kids’ mother. On May 12, 2016, Charlotte, Daniel and Kennedy were adopted. Even though the kids have been hers in her heart since day one, they were now officially hers, forever.
Not long after the adoption, we were reminded once again that the foster care system isn’t fair a majority of the time. Baby A was going to be returned to her birth mother. Knowing that she was going from a happy home to an unstable parent was so heartbreaking, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain my sister went through. As time went on we all grieved our girl and prayed that she was being taken care of or would return back to us.
As we all begin to heal and pray for baby A, God has blessed my sister and the family with other foster kids. Baby Z came to my sister around his first birthday. Even though Z was only with my sister for a week, he spent every minute in her care surrounded by her love and was well taken care of. At the end of the week he was placed with another loving family.
Recently in the last few days, a beautiful 4 day old baby boy was placed in my sister’s care. I was so excited to meet baby D and give him my love and cuddle him. I’ve had the opportunity to watch him while my sister was at work and soak him up. Seeing Julianna with the latest member of her clan has be healing and awe inspiring. I’m so thankful that she got him at such a young age, so that he feels her love in his first few days of life. I know that taking care of a newborn can be exhausting, but Julianna and her kids are surrounded by love and support from friends and family.
I’ve never seen myself as a person who would be capable of the emotions and the experience foster care brings. After watching my sister’s journey as a foster mom, she has truly inspired me. I’m hoping that a few years from now I’ll be in a place where I can take in foster children of my own. There are so many children who need a loving home and someone who truly cares about them. Being a foster aunt has been an absolute joy; I can’t wait to see what the future holds for my sister’s family.
To follow Julianna’s story head to: myjoyfulbrokenheart.com
To learn more about foster care or becoming a foster parent, head to: fostercare.com