Amidst the heartache of grief and loss in the foster care system, our staff at Encourage has had the opportunity to witness the joy of adoption with many families throughout the last year. In fact, 12 children will finalize adoptions this year. While the ultimate goal of every case is to be able to safely reunite children with their biological families, when this outcome is not possible, our foster and adoptive families have the chance to give a child a forever family through adoption.
In many cases, these children have been in these families’ homes for two years or more, and while the final stamp on the paperwork makes it official, these children have been a part of the hearts of their foster families for a long time. What a wonderful example it is of God’s love for us, that we would love and care for a child as our own. There is much loss for these children leading up to adoption, and it is important that we honor their birth families and their history during this process. Adoption is also a new beginning for many children who are so excited to know that they will never face another move and they have a family who loves them, advocates for them, and is there to support them no matter what they face.
It is a great joy of ours, to see a family through the process from beginning to end. It begins with their inquiry and application to be foster and adoptive parents, and it is exciting when they take a leap of faith and say yes to their first placement of foster children. We support them every step of the way while they navigate the child welfare system. It is such an absolute joy to be there at their final adoption hearing. We are so happy that 12 children will now have forever families due to the work we do at Encourage.
April grew up in a loving family. She first learned about foster care in eighth grade when she found a friend in tears at school. Her friend was upset because of a difficult, unsafe situation at home. A foster home. In that moment, April’s heart grew for justice and compassion for kids in need of security.
Fast forward to adulthood. April is happily married to her husband Alan. They are serving as youth leaders at church. April is working as a supervisor in CCHO’s Children’s Residential Center. The young couple had discussed the possibility of adopting children in the future. After six years of marriage, they felt prompted to start this journey. Through Encourage Foster Care, they learned about the great need for homes for children, and so they began the process of becoming licensed foster parents. They hoped to be a foster-to-adopt family.
April and Alan attended the 36-hour pre-service training in January 2018 and received their foster license on April 4. They began receiving calls for placements right away, but the right fit came together on April 23. Less than three weeks after being licensed, April received a call about two young girls, Isabella and Maelynn, in need of a safe place to stay. The sisters were part of a larger sibling group. Their brothers were placed with another Encourage foster family.
April chose to immediately go and pick up the girls rather than postpone until the next day for a drop-off. She didn’t want them waiting in fear and uncertainty. April reflects that this was both the happiest time and the saddest time as she entered the halls of the county’s child and family service office. When she greeted their sweet faces, they had only a garbage bag of belongings.
April drove the girls home and helped them settle in. Having never slept apart, they moved a second bed into a shared bedroom so each one would feel secure with her sister nearby. April notes the strength and resiliency of her girls. She was impressed with their gentleness and kindness. The sisters enjoyed their time of respite in the Bostick home for several weeks before asking about going home to their biological parents. April and Alan navigated these sensitive subjects with age-appropriate honesty of the unknown and comforted them when tears came. Isabella, the older sister, was able to voice her sadness as well as her contentment in now feeling safe.
April 23 was the last day Isabella and Maelynn saw their birth parents. Their biological mom and dad were not able to manage their substance abuse long enough to pass county testing and receive visits. Because of the connection with Encourage, the girls have shared play dates, holiday fun and birthdays with their brother and his foster family. The two foster families refer to each other as extended family enjoying the unique bond they have.
In January 2019, their county caseworker petitioned the court for permanent custody of the girls. Their biological dad was not responsive and their mom was inconsistent at best. A court date was set for early May. Prior to the hearing, the Bosticks and their foster daughters met with their appointed guardian ad litem (GAL). His role was to help the young girls understand the change that was coming. He gently explained that their birth parents could not care for them safely. The girls asked if that meant they could stay with April and Alan. When the GAL replied in affirmation, the girls were relieved and began referring to April and Alan as mom and dad the very next day.
Isabella and Maelynn were formally adopted on September 19. More than 50 friends and family packed into the court room including the girls’ biological brother who was adopted the same day by his foster family. April’s emotions were full that day. For her daughters. And for their birth mom and what she was missing.
April and Alan have introduced their daughters to Jesus. They want them to fully know and understand how much they are loved by God. And that no matter what they say or do, family is forever. They have experienced so much loss in their short lives and they hope their daughters will only gain from this point forward.
The Bosticks are keeping up their foster license. They are open to taking two more children into their home. They have a heart to keep siblings together. While April and Alan are nervous about the possible heartbreak of letting a child go, they are committed to helping kids who need it. Children in foster care deserve to be loved in the in between.