“One child, one time.” That was the plan that Alan and Jamie Finn agreed to when they started the journey to become foster parents. But now, eight years and nearly 30 children later, it is clear God had a different plan.
Neither Alan nor Jamie ever expected to become foster parents. They had thought adoption might play a role at some point, but with two biological children, they had not taken any steps forward. Then Jamie read a book that changed her perspective on life. She wanted to live radically for God’s glory and the good of others. She felt called to pursue foster care. But Alan was not so sure. After spending time diving into God’s Word on their own, they agreed to see where foster care would lead.
The Beginning of the Foster Journey
Alan had many concerns about how foster care would impact their family. He feared putting their two children in danger or upending the stability their family had come to know. He entered into it thinking that it would be so hard that they would not continue past the first placement. It certainly was difficult. But soon after welcoming their first placement, Alan and Jamie acknowledged that they still had space in their home and their family. Their “one child, one time” plan quickly ended, and they welcomed another child into their home.
With the second placement call they received, and each one that followed, Alan was hesitant. “I feel really uncomfortable with this,” he would tell Jamie. But they knew following Jesus is not supposed to be comfortable. Alan “chose faith for a second yes,” Jamie recalls, “and from there, it just grew.” The Finns never planned to welcome a second child into their home through foster care, but God did. In fact, God planned for the first two placements to become permanent members of the Finn family in 2016.
Trusting God as a Foster Family
As a foster family, the Finns welcomed more than just children into their lives. Along with the children came their biological families, workers, and a whole system. With so many strangers involved with the Finn family’s lives, they no longer had control. Judges, therapists, and lawyers now made decisions that impacted the Finn family.
“Foster care steals the illusion that we are in control,” Jamie explains. When you have little to no control over so many aspects of your life, you have to rely on God. The Finns witnessed injustices and mistakes that caused them and their children pain. Alan and Jamie had to look past their present circumstances to see the big picture of what God was doing.
In Jamie’s book, Foster the Family, she describes the reality of trusting God in this way: “Right now we live in the underbelly of the tapestry that God is weaving. We see the broken threads, clashing colors, distorted picture. It doesn’t make sense, and we wouldn’t name it ‘good.’ But He is the Artist, intentionally and artfully threading each person and plot to create a beautiful piece. One day, in heaven, we will look from above and see the full picture. We will behold the full tapestry in all its glory, we will notice every perfectly placed detail, and we will rejoice.” (Foster the Family, p. 212)
Seeing Through Confusion to God’s Divine Plan
The Finns have countless stories of how God’s plan turned out differently than they could have ever imagined. Not long before adopting their two daughters from foster care, Alan and Jamie welcomed their third placement into their home. Jamie picked up this baby boy at the hospital. His little body was suffering as he experienced withdrawal from the substances his mother had been addicted to while she was pregnant. For over a year, the Finn family loved on this little boy.
At the time, saying “yes” to this baby boy was confusing to the Finns. They were on the road to adopting their two daughters, and they knew they were not at a place where they could also adopt this baby boy. But God soon revealed his plan.
Once a week, Jamie had a babysitter come to help with the kids. Over the course of a year, this woman fell in love with the little boy. The woman’s husband, who never thought they would get involved with foster care, also fell in love with him. And so the Finns approached the state child welfare office with a proposition. While the Finns were not the right family to adopt the child, this woman and her husband were ready to say “yes” to forever. The state office licensed the couple, and they soon adopted the boy.
Everything came full circle for Jamie as she attended the adoption ceremony. She realized that God had used her family’s “yes” to make the connection between the child and his adoptive parents. “It was such a beautiful story to get to play a part of,” she says with a smile.
Walking Alongside Biological Families
Toward the beginning of their foster journey, Jamie learned the importance of loving on biological families. They had a placement in their home who was about six months old, and he would cry almost nonstop. Jamie was the only person that this infant could bear to be held by, and she fell deeply in love with him.
For the first time since becoming a foster parent, Jamie put in extra effort to love the child’s biological family. She built a relationship with the baby’s mother, inviting her to appointments and involving her in other important moments. She learned to look beyond a rap sheet or list of mistakes, and she began viewing the biological family with immense compassion.
God had convicted Jamie with a simple thought: “What do you have that you did not receive?” Suddenly aware of all the second chances she had been given, Jamie was overwhelmed with gratefulness for the blessings in her life. She let this realization guide her towards deep and sincere love for biological families.
Adopting From Foster Care
In the beginning, Jamie considered adoption to be the pinnacle of foster care. She thought that adoption would be a “happily ever after” that would erase all trauma and loss. But Jamie soon learned otherwise.
Alan and Jamie Finn adopted two girls from foster care on December 1, 2016. Their two adopted daughters are not biological siblings, nor were they placed in the Finn home at the same time. Rather, their workers simply worked in the same unit and wanted to unite the whole Finn family on the same day. After two years of uncertainty, the foster system was no longer part of these two girls’ lives. Knowing that the girls were a permanent part of her family was a gift to Jamie.
However, adoption from foster care came with challenges. Trauma continued past adoption for Alan and Jamie’s adopted daughters. Jamie soon learned that her daughters’ families would continue to be important to them for the rest of their lives, in one way or another. While adoption is a gift, it contains both beauty and brokenness. “We celebrate this gift of our children,” Jamie describes, “yet we grieve with them as they grieve what they’ve lost.” And while their adopted daughters grieved, Alan and Jamie also grieved. “There is a grief that can come in giving up what you thought life would be. But it’s so much better, so much bigger than what we thought it would be,” Jamie insists.
Involving Their Children in the Foster Family Mission
The impact of foster care on the Finn family was permanent. Not only did the Finns welcome two daughters to their family forever through adoption, but their biological children also learned lessons that are rarely taught in childhood. The children in the Finn home have walked alongside people in their brokenness. They have had the opportunity to meet biological families and understand addiction and substance abuse. They have learned about sacrificial love and hard goodbyes, all while still under the protection of their parents and while in their home.
What was once one of Alan’s greatest fears has become a huge blessing to their family. Yes, their children have experienced pain and loss, but they have also embraced the mission of foster care. They have seen beyond their blessings to recognize the hardships that others encounter. Foster care has taught them a language of love and compassion that few experiences can teach.
Support Makes it all Possible
Alan and Jamie recognize the importance of support as they continue their foster care journey. “I couldn’t do what I do if the people around me didn’t do what they do,” Jamie explains. Support makes the mission possible for the Finns. They can only continue to say “yes” to children because they know they have a support system, whether it is someone to help babysit the kids, help with laundry, show up with a meal, or offer friendship and encouragement.
Above all else, the Finns know the power of prayer. And they feel emboldened when they know people around them are praying. Jamie can attest that there is no shortage of things to pray for: leaders and politicians who can affect the foster care system; churches that can help keep families together; biological families; foster families; healing for a child’s body and brain; and so much more.
Foster the Family
Everyone can do something. The Finns began by trusting where God would lead them, and they never looked back. Whether God has positioned you to foster, adopt, or support, learn how to get started at WaitNoMore.org.
Interested in learning more about the Finn family’s story? Check out Jamie Finn’s book, Foster the Family, where she shares stories and lessons that she has accumulated as a foster/adoptive mom over the years.