Rachael and her husband, Heath, already had children. But when their landlord brought up foster care, the two decided that fostering to adopt would be how they grew their family.
After going through the required classes, Rachael and her husband were looking for a little girl under 2 years old to foster, and hopefully adopt. But there were other plans in store for them.
Rachael said a social worker called them saying there was a little girl who needed a family, but she came with her 5 month old brother.
“At first my husband said ‘no, we don’t have anywhere to put two kids,’” she said. “But then he called me right back and said, ‘Why did you let me say no?’”
That’s when Nariyah and Aaron came to live with them.
As they were adjusting to their new lives with two little ones, the family received another call saying Nariyah and Aaron’s birth mom had another baby.
“It was a surprise. We didn’t even know she was pregnant,” Rachael said.
In a short time, her family of four grew to a family of seven. Rachael and her family went from homework and sports games to abc’s, diapers and a much bigger family.
“It went from quiet dinners to chaos,” she said laughing. “It was fun, though.”
One of Rachael’s favorite memories with her children is when Nariyah and Aaron first came home with them. She remembers Nariyah as “the sassiest two-year-old we’ve ever met.” Rachel says Nariyah was very clear that she was not a baby and does not sleep in a crib.
“My brother sleeps in a crib, so that’s not my bed,” Rachael remembers her saying.
She’s the first to admit having this many children isn’t easy. She’s often on the go with children in cross country, soccer and basketball. But they also still like to find time to sit down at home and enjoy popcorn and movies.
The difficulties didn’t just come from time management and raising her children; Rachael also had to deal with many of the same problems that interracial families do. Rachael was extremely surprised by the way her extended family reacted.
“We quickly found out who no longer mattered in our lives,” Rachael said, “and who did.”
Her advice to others interested in foster care is to just be soft.
“Be flexible, be understanding, soften yourself, soften your face, soften your voice, soften your demeanor, soften everything,” she said. “A lot of kids coming into care, need softness and kindness.”
After that, love takes care of everything else.
“Even if they’re not your forever child, they deserve to feel that love for a little while,” Rachael said. “Even if you can’t keep them forever, it’s worth it for them. Even if it breaks your heart, they deserve it.”