By Libbo Crosswhite
One Mom’s Foster-to-Adoption Journey
I am beyond excited this month to share with you my dear friend Taylor Nicolosi’s journey to motherhood. Taylor and I were freshman year roommates at Mississippi State and although most thought we had been best friends for a lifetime, Taylor and I were randomly set up through a mutual friend just a few months before freshman year. Taylor’s story is one of restoration and rescue. A beautiful reminder this month as we celebrate the very core of the gospel in the Easter season. That Jesus’ death and resurrection allow for our sinful, broken selves to be rescued out of darkness and adopted into a relationship with our Creator. At the very heart of her story is the heart of our Savior and I am so grateful that she chose to share it with us:
I could go on for days about how we began our journey that led us into adoption but frankly, there is just not enough time and space. After marriage, Evan and I began planning for child-rearing years. In the middle of trying to conceive a biological child, the Lord opened our eyes to His plans that included adoption and not biology. And let’s face it, His plans are far better and greater than ours.
We began researching adoption through private agencies when some friends told us about foster-to-adopt through the Department of Child Protective Services. After talking with them, our eyes were opened to start the journey of fostering. Through this process, children are being removed from abusive or neglectful living situations. In foster care, the child’s plan is always reunification with biological family members unless the judge rules termination of parental rights (including all other biological family) and proceed with adoption.
After completion of state-regulated parenting classes, we met our incredible resource worker on February 19, 2016, for our first home study. God was protecting our baby more than we could ever imagine because we “got the call” and were matched almost immediately with an 18-month-old baby girl, Olivia “Livi” Grace.
We were so thrilled and overjoyed; all I could do was cry. Later that week, we were given pictures and were scheduled to meet her. During this process, we had various day visits, which evolved into overnight stays to establish a bond and easy transition for Livi Grace. On April 29, 2016, Livi Grace officially moved in and we celebrated her “Gotcha Day” with lots of cake, hugs, and kisses!
Then parenthood began. And what a refining process it is. Fostering to adopt taught me a great deal about who God is and who I am, and I found myself learning how to deal with my struggles of fear and anxiety.
Livi Grace was under a “high-risk” category, meaning at any moment a biological family member could say they wanted to take her and she would be immediately removed. Or the state could deem her biological mom fit for motherhood in which she would also be removed and taken away. Now for me, that was a HUGE FEAR. Given certain circumstances, this can be a beautiful picture of grace and reunification of families, but I couldn’t help but grieve and mourn the “what if” scenarios.
But my greatest anxiety originated from my lack of control over the entire situation. I had no control over if she stayed or would leave. I had no control of her safety.
The truth is that no one is perfect. We are sinful and have flaws. Just like people, the foster care system was created for good; yet flaws arise. Social workers are understaffed with high turnover rates. Laws change, confusing many state workers and elongating adoption progress despite the good attempt to make things better for kids.
But that is why Jesus came Jesus came to “bless the brokenhearted, set the captives free, and comfort those who mourn.” Not only did He come to set them free but bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Matthew 5:3-4; Isaiah 61:1-3) Granting us grace and freedom from our sinful and rebellious nature, He created us for eternal communion with Him and that HE alone is greater than any trial or treasure in this world! (Hebrews 11:24-26; Philippians 3:8-9)
In parenting, I learned you have to surrender your control to Jesus. I’ve learned that as a mom I do not have all the answers despite attempting to “pull out all the tricks” when something goes wrong. But thankfully we also have the Holy Spirit interceding for us on our behalf. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf through prayer even when we are too overwhelmed to understand what we ought to pray (Romans 8:26). It is through the Holy Spirit I have learned of God’s peace that surpasses all understanding. He protected and provided for my baby girl way before I was in the picture. Why would He not continue to protect and provide for her now? For He is a just God and is sovereign in bringing justice for her life and I’ve learned that ultimately, He is in control.
Almost 2 ½ years later, we adopted Livi Grace on December 20, 2017. As this journey continues, I have learned that my joy comes from Jesus alone and not external circumstances. I am still learning to surrender my control and allow God to work beautifully through my family and me. I have learned God is my joy, my constant, and my Redeemer. No need to fear. I am His and because of His mercy and goodness, Livi Grace is now mine.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Brandon and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 4 years old and a son, Russell, who is 2 1/2 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at email@example.com.