Road Trips and Connecting With Foster and Adoptive Families Along The Way!
Jeff and I became exposed to the need for orphan care in the U.S. before we had even met each other. I was a social worker, working my first job in the community with kids and I saw the deep need for good homes as well as how the adoption process works. My heart was broken from some of the things I had seen, such as kids waiting to be adopted that were getting older and would likely age out of the system with no family. I was convinced in my heart that I needed to make a difference in the life of a child someday and bring them into family. It was something I felt God was calling me to do. Meanwhile, Jeff saw the way a child could be loved into a family as a result of his childhood. As a teenager, a couple pastors who had mentored him had not only welcomed him in, but had also adopted two kids into their growing family. Jeff desired to adopt because he saw so much good come from this, especially seeing the way they sacrificially loved and poured into a child’s life.
When Jeff and I met each other and eventually talked about marriage and our life values, adoption came up. We were excited to find out that we both had a big heart to adopt someday. A few years into our marriage, we were hoping for pregnancy but it just wasn’t happening. Although grieved, I didn’t pursue any medical treatment and we felt in our hearts it was the time to sign up for foster care classes and see what happened. To make a long story short, the next few years included fostering a total of six kids, three of which we have adopted. We were thankful for the opportunity to care for these babies in the time that we had them to help nurture them developmentally. Though it was not easy, it was worth it to make an impact on their lives.
We first adopted Elijah, our very first placement who came to us at eight months old. His biological brother Mattais was our next child we adopted who we had brought home from the hospital as a newborn. The surprise call for baby Liam came a few years later, also a newborn from the hospital. We will tell anyone that the love we have for our boys is as if they had come from our own DNA and no less than that. We are now joyfully raising our tribe of three wild, wonderful boys who are now 6, 8 and 10.
Anyone who parents boys knows the house is rarely quiet or without activity, it is full of life! For our family, it really helps to get all that boy energy out by getting them outside into nature. We are an adventurous family and take lots of trips to parks and playgrounds as well as beaches and mountains when we’re able to travel. A sense of peace comes over the boys when they’re able to skip stones across a pond, jump through a creek or find a perfect walking stick.
Over the years Jeff and I have been able to share parts of our adoption story with people we connected with who had been interested in learning more. We were thrilled to find out that some of these conversations have resulted in families taking in children that they were able to foster and/or adopt! It seems that people being able to see our living testimony has taken some of the fear of the unknown away, and we have wanted to spread more awareness about the need for orphan care even more by connecting with more families who might be interested. We dreamed that our little family could make an impact in the often unseen orphan crisis we face right here in our country.
This spring we decided to dream big and apply for Airstream’s “Endless Caravan” campaign and pitched the idea that we could travel the coast with our family of five and connect informally with people along the way at picnic sites, coffee shops and campfires to share stories and spread awareness about foster care and adoption. We were thrilled when the marketing team decided to choose our family and it was a dream come true to think about exploring beautiful places as a family and meeting up with beautiful people along the way.
A huge part of this journey we are about to embark on is to meet people like YOU! If you are a current foster and/or adoptive parent, or are interested in learning more about foster care and adoption, we would LOVE to meet you! Please help us spread the word by sharing this post! Together we can help get vulnerable kids placed in safe, loving families. We would love for you to follow along with our journey and get updates through Instagram and Facebook. We will also post updates on our family blog www.wildfreeones.wordpress.com where you can sign up for an email subscription.
After our Airstream adventure, we have the incredible opportunity to move to the Cincinnati metro area to live on the grounds of a civil war-era mansion that previously was an orphanage, now being restored into a modern day orphan advocacy center. The Father's House is the first project of New Oaks Community, who "seeks to develop properties where families can live in community and unite in heart for the common purpose of loving children through foster care and adoption." We have dreams of providing respite for foster babies, teaching kids aging out of the system much needed life skills like cooking and budgeting as well as hosting worship nights and community meals for families involved in fostering and adopting.
Our future home on the grounds, the previous "laundry house" built in the early 1900's is currently raising funds to complete the renovation. Once the funds are raised, this home will be able to be remodeled fairly quickly and our family will be able to move in! We are hoping that will be by this fall. If you would like to learn more about The Father's House and how you can help us reach our fundraising goal, please visit our GoFundMe!
Our adventure begins at the end of this summer as we plan to travel to the East Coast, starting in Great Smoky Mountain National Park down to South Carolina and all the way up to Acadia National Park in Maine. After Maine, we will head through New Hampshire’s White Mountains and through Vermont, stopping at Niagra Falls and finishing up our trip with a few stops along Lake Michigan. We can't wait to meet you!
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Our tentative schedule:
We will update with exact dates on social media as we book our sites, we look forward to meeting you on the road!
Week 1 : (Aug.26-Sept. 2) Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville,NC, Congaree National Park
Week 2 : (Sept.3-8) Charleston, SC, Wilmington, NC, Outer Banks
Week 3: (Sept.9-15) Assateague Island, MD, Philadelphia, PA, New York, Wildwood State Park
Week 4: (Sept.16-22) Rhode Island State Parks, Cape Cod National Seashore, Boston, MA
Week 5: (Sept. 23-29) Acadia National Park, ME
Week 6: (Sept. 30-Oct.6) Maine, New Hampshire’s White Mountains,
Week 7: (Oct. 7-13) New Hampshire, Vermont, New York-Niagra Falls
Week 8: (Oct. 14-20) Great Lakes