Every week we will be introducing one of the mamas from the Dropping Anchors crew so you can get to know each of us a little better!
First up is Steph!
Tell us a little about yourself.
“Hi! I’m Steph! I’m an artist living in Nashville with my husband, Dave, who is in the music business. We love being creative together, making up silly songs, eating out, watching movies, playing with our kids, and spending time with friends and family.”
How long have you been a foster parent and how many kiddos have you fostered?
“We’ve been foster parents for about 2 years. We’ve had one short-term placement (a 6-year-old girl), one 3-year-old boy we adopted in September of 2014, and a 9 month old baby we are on track to adopt in spring of 2015. We are prayerfully considering our next placements as well, but we don’t have much to share on that yet.”
What made you want to become a foster mom?
“The older I get, the more I believe God wired me to be a foster mom. As a young girl, I used to pretend that people dropped babies off at my door, and in kindergarten, when my teacher asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “a mom.” I have had recurring dreams for as long as I can remember that I’m in charge of other people’s children. So to some extent, this wham-bam-motherhood has always been in the back of my heart.
But more specifically, in 2011, my church was doing a study on stewardship and giving. I had been going through some hard years of infertility, and was wrestling with the feelings I had that I was called to be a mama, but hadn’t been able to have children. In an instant, during that stewardship lesson, I thought, “I have a surplus of motherhood in me. I need to be willing to give it away.” So for the first time, foster care seemed like the obvious answer for my heartache. I have a tendency to jump in with both feet, and my husband is often the brake pedal to my crazy ideas, so when my husband said he was on board, I knew it was God stirring our hearts toward the same passion.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a mama of fosters?
“I have a selfish answer, and an unselfish answer to this one!
Selfishly, the hardest part is being ok with being a different kind of mama. This shows itself in a lot of ways. Like, things that seem “normal” to other people are things I know can be trauma-based, so I have to respond differently than they might. Sometimes people don’t respond well to that. Or getting side eyes and weird comments from people who think me growing my family in unconventional ways isn’t a good choice. Figuring out motherhood for the first time is hard enough without worrying about what people think of me. I really try to follow God’s will for our family. Listening to that voice above all others (including my own sometimes!) is tricky. But I’m learning.
Unselfishly, the hardest part has been watching biological parents wrestle with their struggles. Sitting next to a mama who is beside herself in tears because she knows her mistakes are causing her to lose a child she dearly loves, is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever witnessed. I ache for these mamas. I want to hug them so tightly and cry with them. I want to tell them that we are the same—that I make mistakes too, and that their pain is not too great to triumph over, that God is able and He is a healer. That He healed me and is continuing to heal me. It’s so hard to see the woman who birthed your son hurting on such a level. It’s not an emotion I can easily describe or compartmentalize.”
What’s the most rewarding part of being a foster mama?
“Hugging my boys, playing with them, kissing their little cheeks when they have a fever, swaddling and snuggling, making new traditions, exploring… if I didn’t have these sweet moments of pure joy with my boys, none of the other “rewards” of foster parenting would be worth it. It’s just being with the kids. They make foster parenting the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
What’s your best piece of advice for new foster parents?
“PLUG IN to real, emotional and spiritual support. Use it all the time if you must. Keep going back to it, day after day or week after week—wherever you can find the support. If I didn’t have a group of ladies around me who share the passion of foster care, I believe I would fizzle out. I find the strength to do hard things through the encouragement of women who have gone before me and tell me I can do hard things because God is on my side. When my days of visits and doctors appointments and court dates are long and weary, I can count on my support system to say, ‘yes. I know. It’s terrible. But you’ve got this, mama.'”