The Nudge

Most endeavors start with a nudge.  You’ve felt one before.  Maybe it was as small as that nudge to simply buy that carton of ice cream or the one that led you to smile at a stranger on the street.

Before fostering, I felt a nudge.  Actually I felt many gentle nudges.

Some of these feelings and prompting to move towards fostering children started when I was younger.  Fostering children didn’t enter my mind as much as just the concept of kids without parents.  I have always been amazed with the thought of orphans.  I was in awe of the movie and story of Annie, the little orphaned streetwise girl trapped in an orphanage with mean ol’ gin-soaked and tyrannical Miss Hannigan.  I watched this film over and over sitting in my cozy home with parents and all the things I could ever want or need.

How could kids exist without their own parents to care for them?

When I would curl up by my dad’s side and get him to scratch my back or when my mom would leave I love you notes for me to find when I was in elementary school, I couldn’t fathom the lives of children that didn’t have something like that.

I have a simple mind, but I am coming to know that I have a big heart.

As a college student, I thought and dreamed about how wonderful it would be to work in an orphanage or even own one.  I wanted to help.  I wanted to stand in the gap.  I felt so ill prepared, like I was not capable and it was too lofty of a way for me, Anna Kirby, to help the orphaned children of this world.

Maybe I should adopt, I thought.  Maybe I could rescue a child from some far off country that has been left for dead.  I bet that child would love me and I would be their everything.  Surely there had to be a way that I could work in an orphaned child’s life.

After marrying the man of my dreams and starting a family in western North Carolina, I was fine to just do my own thing with my own family.  My heart was heavy for orphaned children, but the huge responsibility of caring for our children, right before my eyes, was enormous and all-consuming.  How in the world would I find time to help orphaned children in need?  Why had the Lord given me this pull at my heart, if my work at home seemed full enough?

Fast forward and I got a quick jab into my side (nudge) when reading a little article within a newspaper here in our new city.   (Our family had moved in order to fulfill my husband’s aspirations to attain his PhD in education and go on to teach at a university)  The article was short and to the point.  A guy was writing about remembering foster children that need homes.  He was hinting that they need homes for the holiday season, because I think Thanksgiving and Christmas were approaching.  There were some corny comments about how “we” could give the best gift in the world by providing a home for a child that has come into the foster care system.  Slyly, this writer added that there was always a chance that foster children can be adopted.  He made sure to note that adopting children from our county’s foster system was free.

Free?  I can save a child for free?

Me, being naïve sometimes, thought about how easy it would be to take a child in, spread the love we have within our home and then maybe even adopt the kid.  We have more than enough love to spread around.  Again, I can be so simple-minded.

I felt more nudges within a short time frame.

I had connected with an old acquaintance from high school that had recently adopted a child from the foster care system right here within my reach.  Little did he know as he was sharing about his experience, that there was a seed that was taking root.  This new father went on to say how doable it was to adopt a foster child.  It took time, but it was worth it to help that one child.

I’d had enough nudges, it was time to take action.

 *

 Now, I am NOT a morning person.  It took time to get my husband to believe that there is such a thing, but I am a prime example of a groggy person most mornings.  I don’t want to talk, I’d rather grunt and use hand motions. What can I say, I love my bed.  I want to stay there as long as possible.  I love comfort.

Why would anyone choose to give up comfort?

I read about soldiers that risk everything, leave all comfort to fight for what they think is right and worth fighting for.

That is a good reason.

Why would I, a mother of four, busy as a bee and super content, want to rock the boat and walk into discomfort?  Isn’t it enough that I don’t get to sleep in until 9 each morning?  That is enough sacrifice, right?

After a recent spiritual journey of sorts, I (along with Scott) got to thinking that being uncomfortable for the sake of others could be something we needed to pursue.

I signed Scott and I up to attend a series of classes called MAPP training.  These classes were required to become a foster or adoptive parent here within our city of Durham.  With total excitement and no inhibition, I leaped at the chance to learn more about the process of becoming an fostering/adoptive parent.

The classes were heavy.  I remember walking away hopeful, but a bit shaken up with the information that was being poured out weekly.  It was clear that the foster care system, adoption, and parenting a hurt child would be no cake walk.

My heart was opening up to not just adopting, but fostering.  The more stories and examples I heard about through our training, I felt like I should let my heart be affected by the kids in our city that needed temporary parents until their parents can get their lives back together.  Seemed doable.  We manage our home well.  We have plenty of love to give.  Maybe we could foster to adopt, then we are helping out and rescuing at the same time.  Giving and taking.

So naïve.

At the end of the 5 weeks of 10 classes, we decided we did want to sign up to get licensed as foster parents.  The process began.  I was anxious and wanted to welcome a little one in immediately.

It doesn’t happen that way.

After months of jumping through all the necessary hoops, we were licensed within a year of beginning the process.  I was on high alert when the phone rang.  I kept imagining how the phone call would come.  Would it be in the middle of the night?  Would I need to make an immediate decision whether or not we could take that particular child?  Questions flooded my mind for months.

Then, we got a call.

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