On Mothering Sunday 2020, Katherine heard God calling her to adoption. She shares her story.
“I was 35 and had been praying for a husband and family. It hadn’t happened for me but I prayed it would happen one day.
“I always avoided Mother’s Day services as they were really painful for me. I was in the car, heading back to visit family in the northwest and Rachel Gardner was speaking in a Mothering Sunday service on the radio. She talked about the many ways that women ‘mother’ and about her own adopted children. They then played Hillsong’s, Who you say I am, a worship song that was very personal to me.
“I remember that moment so vividly, sitting in the car, driving home. I started crying. For the only time in my life, I clearly heard God speak to me. He was saying, this is what I’ve been trying to tell you… And it all snowballed after that moment.
“That summer I met my assigned social worker and 9 months later I had been approved as a single adopter (the irony of that length of time was not lost on me!). My little one came home the following summertime, a few days old. I fostered him under ‘early permanence’ (which many people will have heard of as foster to adopt). I took him to see his birth mum three times a week, for many months following that and was his Foster Carer, not his Mother, for all of this time.”
During her adoption training, Katherine met some people from the charity Home for Good. A speaker from Home for Good came along to Katherine’s church to speak to them about the best ways to support Katherine and her future child. She explained about the correct language and terms to use and about the uncertainty of foster to adopt placements. They needed to understand that there wasn’t an absolute certainty that her little one would remain with her.
“One winter’s day I found out that a member of his birth family may be being assessed to adopt him. My first thought was ‘that’s it, I’m losing him.’ I had his bag packed in my head. How do you do that? How do you enjoy your baby’s first Christmas when you might find out that he is leaving you? I didn’t tell any of my family as I didn’t want it to colour their experience of his first winter and Christmas with us, so I kept it to myself.
“That time was the hardest few months of parenting so far for me. There was the threat of him going back, navigating some physical health problems not only for him but in my own family too. We were in lockdown, so I had no mum friends, no baby groups and at times I felt angry and resentful. I’d prayed so hard for this and then didn’t have the experience I thought I would have…”
Thankfully after more than a year of dizzying highs and gruelling lows, the adoption order was granted. There was great celebration across Katherine’s family where he is the first grandchild and huge joy in their church family.
“I wouldn’t swap any of the heartaches even if I could though because the fact is that he’s always been here, he’s always had a stable home and only ever known safety and love. I can’t change any effect that his background might have had on him in utero, but I can hope that I’ve done enough to give him a good start.
“My son was baptised in the autumn, shortly after the adoption order came through. The whole of our church was packed with people who loved him and who had prayed for him, even before he was born.
“He’s stolen my heart and completely changed my outlook on life. I feel like life is complete and as God had planned it. Life makes sense now.
“I’m a nurse and I’m really proud that I can still do the job that I love. I’ve reached the joy of being able to work office hours now rather than shifts. I used to stay in the office until the work was done, but now once 5 pm comes I turn back into Mummy mode and switch off. It’s not that I don’t care, or that I don’t love what I do – I’m just a mum and all the thoughts of tea time and bedtime stop me thinking about work!”
As Katherine continues, “We’re called to look after the widowed and the orphaned and we are all adopted together into God’s family. Not everyone has this calling or the ability to physically welcome children into their home in this way but there are so many things you can do. Pray for the children who find themselves in care and for their birth families. Find out if there are adopters or fosterers in your congregation and walk alongside them in their journey. There will undoubtedly be bumps in the road for them so stand by them without asking too many questions and love their child. The greatest joy for me is watching others love my son.”
Home for Good has released a new four-session Bible study resource called Make Room, for individuals, small groups or whole churches who want to explore what their part could be in making room for vulnerable children and young people.