Three years ago, God made me a mom and changed my life forever. In 2015, I was 34 and single and trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Being a single in your thirties can feel disappointing and lonely at times, and while I knew Jesus wanted me to step away from just surviving, I had no idea the plans He had.
It was during that season that I read about an informational meeting about foster care in the Brook Hills worship guide and decided to attend. Our church had recently studied James 1:27, and I can only attribute my desire to attend to God’s tugging at my heart. I signed up for the eight-week class, and by the end, my heart was broken for children who come from unimaginable circumstances. I was broken too for the parents bound by addiction, poverty cycles, and mental illness.
On March 12, 2015, I got my first placement—a 2-year-old girl named Zelda.
I’ll never forget that first night. I thought, “Did they really just leave her here with me?” I couldn’t believe I had been entrusted with her life, even for a little while. I checked on her probably every 20 minutes, and I tried to keep my heart in check. The goal of foster care is almost always to reunite the child with her family, so I had it in my mind that I was just a temporary mom—a babysitter. I knew that was the safest mindset, because as everyone likes to point out, how can you ever say goodbye and watch a child leave after you’ve kept him or her in your home?
But needless to say, I didn’t stay safe for long. During my time as Zelda’s foster mom, God made it clear that my role was much more than a babysitter. Although I tried to keep my heart safe, I completely failed. I wasn’t her biological mom, but I loved her with all my heart, so much that it physically hurt to think that I might not see her grow up.
The next few years brought court dates and unknowns. Each court date brought questions about her future. God revealed His love for my child and that I needed to trust Him with her completely. Although I love her as my daughter, she’s not my own—she’s His. She’s His child, and He loves her more than I ever could. I couldn’t control her future or mine, but I could pray that one day she would know Him. I could pour everything I knew about Jesus into her so that she could know He loves her more than anyone—that He is trustworthy and hears her prayers.
At the same time, being a parent to a child who has suffered from neglect and abuse is tough. Many days I felt defeated and tired and questioned whether I was really the right person, and if I was really cut out for this. In those moments, which sometimes happened several times a day, He reminded me that it’s not about me and my ability to parent, it’s about obedience. He called me on this journey, and because of Him I can trust Him to carry me on the days that I feel inadequate and “not enough.”
Thankfully, God surrounded me with a community that supported and encouraged me. The support I have received from Brook Hills has been an outpouring of love. The preschool teachers and staff worked to provide Zelda with a safe and loving environment for her to learn about Jesus on Sundays, and the WRAP ministry provided meals, childcare, and an open invitation to ask for help and support when needed. Our Wednesday night small group has also been a safe place to meet other foster parents and provide support for one another. I am so grateful to our church family for the love we have been shown and felt.
On Dec. 20, 2017, Zelda and I officially became mother and daughter.
It is overwhelming to think about the responsibility He has entrusted me with, but I am confident that He will continue to provide exactly what we need and guide me on this journey. God’s call to be a mom changed my life forever. It changed my relationship with Him and what it looks like to truly trust Him. My life is not my own, it is His, and my only hope in this life is to continue seeking after Him.
Recently, Zelda and I read the book “The Kissing Hand.” (If you haven’t read it, get the tissues ready.) The story is about a mom who kissed the palm of her son’s hand when it was time for him to go to school so that he could press it to his cheek and remember that she loved him. That night as we were reading, when it was time to say goodnight, Zelda reached up, took my hand, spread out my fingers, kissed my palm and said, “Zelda loves you. Zelda loves you.”
My heart is full. We’re surviving in a different way now than I was before I became a foster parent—and it’s more full than I ever could’ve imagined. My life has been turned upside down for a purpose. I’m a mom. And I’m grateful.
Amy Hacker is a mom, teacher, small group leader, and foster mother. She has been a member of Brook Hills since 2003. If you’d like more information about fostering or supporting foster care ministry in our faith family, visit brookhills.org/foster-care.