I first thought about fostering children during graduate school, but I quickly dismissed the idea. After all, I was in school preparing to begin and then advance my career. And on top of that I was single. Surely becoming a foster parent was not a realistic possibility, and most certainly God could not be calling someone like to something so outrageous.
Yet, I could not deny a constant longing inside. I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a mother. But I also felt a strong desire to help. I wanted to make a difference. So eventually I requested some information concerning becoming a foster parent, even going to a few information meetings with various agencies. In the end, however, I put the information aside and never really acted on it. After all, I was early in my career and living far from my family. I didn’t even know a single person that had ever fostered or adopted a child. And on top of that I was single. Surely this was not the right way for me to get involved, and I was all but certain that God could not be calling me to this journey.
Or maybe He was. The more I thought and prayed about this nagging feeling I slowly became convinced that it was exactly what God was leading me toward – even though I had a career, even though I was far from family, even though I knew no foster or adoptive families and even though I was single.
Finally, I gave up resisting and jumped into training to become a foster parent. Shortly after completing all of the licensing requirements, I received my first placements. It was a sibling group of two little boys, and they stayed with me for approximately 60 days. I knew going in that they would only be staying with me for a short period of time, so I had been very intentional to guard my heart. However, the day the CPS worker came to move them to their permanent home I found myself overcome with emotions that I had not anticipated.
The connection and love that I felt toward these little boys amazed even me. After all, no one had told me that being a foster parent for just 60 days would do this to my heart. But as hard as that experience was for me, it was welcome confirmation that I was traveling the path that God has called me to.
Once the boys moved on I remained open to new placements, and in early 2005 I got a call that changed everything. I was talking long distance with my mom telling her how I still had a strong desire to allow God to use me to make a difference, when another call came in. I clicked over and it was my agency caseworker. She started telling me about a child who had just come into care, and she began detailing some of his known history and challenges. I immediately told her that this was not the right placement for me. After all, I had no real experience as a parent, especially with a child with this sort of history. I called my mom back to finish talking with her. I told her about the call and my answer, but her response surprised. “Kathryn,” she said, “you just lied to God. If you meant what you said about wanting Him to use you then I suggest you hang up and call that woman back and tell her ‘Yes!’” Knowing my mother to be a wise and Godly woman, I wasn’t about to disobey her, so I called the caseworker back and told her “Yes.” Two hours later, a frightened, underweight little boy walked in my door holding a box of matchbox cars.
Weeks later I was told that this little guy’s birth parents were no longer working their services plan and that as a result his permanency plan was changing from reunification to adoption. I was asked if I would be open to adoption. I remember that word – adoption – hitting me like a ton of bricks and weighing incredibly heavy on me. “I can’t adopt,” I remember thinking to myself. After all, I have a career, neither my family nor I have ANY experience with adoption, I have no support for something like this, not to mention that he is white and I am black. And I am still single. Is it fair to him for me, a single mom, to adopt him and possibly deny him the opportunity to be raised in a two-parent home? These doubts, questions and fears, plus many more, flooded my heart and mind.
Desperately needing to work through these questions, I turned to my parents and grandfather. I remember asking them in particular about the race issue. My parents made clear that they would be supportive of my adopting this little boy, but didn’t offer much explanation. When I asked my grandfather, however, his response surprised me. “Kathryn,” he said, “I see that you really love and care for this little boy, and he loves you too. I think you should do what you know God is calling you to do. After all, you are not the first black woman to ever love and care for a white child.” With those words, spoken with generations of wisdom, I had the affirmation and sense of freedom I needed to move forward and welcome this little boy into my heart and life – forever.
In March 2007 my life changed forever when I adopted my son Zane. The love that we had developed changed us both in so many ways, and continues to do so. I know, more than ever before, that family is not about race or DNA, but rather about commitment and unconditional love. Years later he can still bring me to tears when he says, “Mom, thank you for loving me.”
After adopting Zane I continued to foster, and have fostered six children in total. Zane and I ‘welcomed home’ one of those little boys, Devin, to be part of our forever family when we adopted him in late 2009.
As I have traveled this journey, I have discovered the critical importance of having others who can provide support, encourage and help along the way. This is true for all adoptive and foster families, but especially so for adoptive and foster single parents. This is why I, together with Jill Silvey, started a Tapestry small group to support adoptive and foster singles. Having first been introduced to Tapestry by attending their summer water park event (even though I didn’t know a soul when I showed up), this ministry has allowed me to experience the blessing of being connected to others who understand and accept my family and find the support and education I need to travel this parenting journey well.
Years ago God placed a desire in my heart to make a difference, and He has been faithful to fulfill that desire. Along the way I have learned many things – about myself, about others and about my God. I know that God is not surprised by my excuses, my fears or even my lack of faith at times. He expects that from me and from all of us, and yet He loves me far too much to allow me to settle for a life full of so little faith, hope and love. He is committed to me and to shaping me into the person He wants me to be. He has promised to be with me, each and every step of the way.
Resting in this promise, I continue to foster even though to some it probably makes little sense. And after all of my excuses, fears and, at times, small thinking, God is still calling me to make a difference. But I now realize much better what that means and what it requires of me. All along He has simply wanted my “Yes” to whatever it is that He calls me to. And after all, that’s all I have to give.
Kathryn Veazey has two boys, Zane and Devin, and is also currently fostering a little girl. She is the co-leader of Tapestry’s Adoptive & Foster Single Parents Group that meets on the third Sunday of each month at IBC.