Young Nathan liked to ask questions. Always had. Mostly typical stuff for a 9-year-old who knows he was adopted — questions like “What does it cost to adopt?” or “Did you pay for me?”
“No, parents don’t pay for children,” his mother would answer, “but I would have paid for you.”
Yet this time, this morning, felt different somehow. Nathan was sitting at the table eating breakfast, and his mother, Blair, was about to take her coffee to another room. Someplace quiet; someplace she could relax. Yet Blair had a sense that this particular morning she was supposed to join her son at the table.
Sure enough, Nathan had a question for her — one he’d never asked before.
“What made you decide to adopt?”
Blair had to think about it for a minute. Did she even know the answer? Then it came to her, clear as can be, and she told her son exactly what he wanted to know.
“Well,” she said, “there was this radio program ….”
A Tale of Need
For most of her life, Blair had never even considered adoption. She had no experience with anyone who had adopted or had been adopted; it was a totally foreign concept. Besides, she and her husband, John, already had two young children, ages 3 and 4, and Blair says she wasn’t exactly what you’d call a “supermom.”
“Having two preschool-aged children was overwhelming to me,” she says.
It was while driving those two little ones home from school that she heard a Focus on the Family broadcast about a little girl who’d been abandoned on the streets of Korea. The girl, Stephanie, was rescued at age 7 by a missionary woman and taken to a Korean orphanage; but everyone knows that only the youngest, cutest, healthiest kids stood a chance of being adopted, and Stephanie was a scrawny little thing, with worms in her body, lice in her hair and boils on her skin. What’s more, she absolutely despised men thanks to the years of abuse she’d suffered at their hands.
Blair listened with fascination as Stephanie recounted the day that a childless American couple came to the orphanage. She said the biggest man with the biggest hands she’d ever seen picked up each infant one by one. Then he turned to Stephanie, and he laid a huge hand on her face. Stephanie says it felt so good that she never wanted it to end, but her body wouldn’t stand for it.
She looked up at the man and spat on him.
The couple returned the next day and took Stephanie home with them.
“I listened in amazement,” Blair said. “That was the moment that got me. There was something about that action — the brokenness of that little girl. She needed love … a parent … someone … anyone who would take her.”
It was a story of pain, of lament, of redemption and, at least for Blair, inspiration. What she also heard that afternoon was a tale of need.
“I did not have to be a perfect, or even a good, parent to do that. There were children who did not have parents, like this girl, who desperately needed someone.”
That’s when the thought came to her: We should adopt. Actually, it was more like, I may not be the best mom, but I can be a mom to a child who doesn’t have one. And it was more than just a thought, Blair says. It was an impression with substance, and she had no doubt it was from God.
Still, she was afraid. How can I tell my husband? How will he react? It took a couple of days, but Blair eventually, tremulously told John: “I heard this program from Focus on the Family, and I think we’re supposed to adopt.”
She laughs now when she recalls his response.
“I always thought that would be a good thing to do,” John said. “But I didn’t think you’d want to.”
Waiting and Anticipation
They looked at international adoption first. Too expensive. Private agencies? Also costly.
“I think it was Blair who found a website with pictures and stories of kids in the foster care system,” John says. “We realized that there were kids in our backyard who needed a family.”
The couple approached the cliff and stepped off. They discovered that foster parenting is a journey of waiting and anticipation, followed by more waiting. Finally, after months of glacial paperwork and approvals, their caseworker called:
“I think we have a child for you.”
John and Blair dropped their two children at a friend’s house while they went to meet an 18-month-old ball of energy named Nathan. They weren’t concerned with how cute he was or whether they felt some sort of special connection. There was no “This is our child!” moment. There was only the pervading sense that a boy needed a home and they had one to offer.
And that … was that. Nathan was their first placement, and he never left. When they were given the option to adopt, there was no debate.
They Said Yes … Again
John and Blair made a decision: If a child in their community needed a safe place, then their home was available. John says they took in maybe 15 kids total. Some stayed a month, some stayed two days, some stayed a year.
The family took a break from fostering for a while, but a few years ago — around the time of Nathan’s kitchen table question — John and Blair concluded it was time to reopen their home.
They said yes to a 7- and 9-year-old brother and sister. The siblings lived with the family for 11 months, and things were moving toward permanence when a dramatic court ruling suddenly reunited the children with their birth mother. It was an answer to prayer, but it was also terrible and crushing and at times Blair felt like she couldn’t go on.
Yet even as she grieved, Blair felt this small, glowing love for some child who needed a family, and she was afraid that if she took another break and didn’t take in more kids then that love would somehow fade — fade to the point that she might not want to risk her heart once more.
“I finally got to a place,” Blair says, “where I felt like, OK, let’s do this again, no matter the outcome.”
Again took the form of an 11-year-old boy and his 3-year-old sister. At the time, they thought the placement would be temporary, but that’s not how it panned out. The siblings came to live with them in August 2017, and they’ve never left. “Cole and Lilly are a part of our family,” Blair says, “no matter their legal status.”
Blair didn’t feel qualified for this role, she says. Never has. She just happened to be listening to the radio at the right time. “That program,” she says, “changed my heart in an instant.”
Focus on the Family works to help find families for children in foster care. Learn more by visiting Wait No More.