Welcome to Our Tribe

By: Chris Jenkins, PE

As we enter 2020, my wife Andrea and I find ourselves reflecting on all the wonderful gifts we received last year – the greatest of which was the adoption of our son, Gabe, on September 30, 2019. Adopting from foster care is not an easy process, but it is one that will completely change your life as you parent remarkable children.

We welcomed Gabe and his sister into our home over Thanksgiving in 2016. We took it one day at a time, learned each other’s habits, and loved one another. Over the past three years, we have opened up our home to children of all ages, and Gabe always jumped in to show them the ropes.

Throughout the foster care to adoption process, we have overcome many challenges and obstacles that ultimately brought us closer together. When you spend time with foster children, you learn that many times they have been abandoned and neglected by the people they trust most. During our adoption counseling sessions, we learned that Gabe’s biggest struggle was the word “family.” Family reminded him of the pain and loss that he had experienced earlier in his life. As a parent, it is the most difficult thing to witness your child living with such a paralyzing pain knowing that all you can do is acknowledge it, embrace them, and help carry the weight of it all. Therefore, we no longer call ourselves a family but instead a tribe.

Gabe is a junior at Springville High School. He plays the bass and saxophone in the school band, and he is in the youth band at church. Gabe’s passion is music, and he aspires to be a music teacher someday.

Our son is thriving and continues to surprise us each day. Earlier this month, Gabe was baptized at our church. Gabe shared that God brought him out of dark places, that without Him, he would have never been able to escape. We went from Gabe, not believing there was a God, to believing, accepting Him, and then being baptized.

Our journey has been an amazing experience, but nothing can prepare you for when you are in the midst of chaos, tears, anger, hugs, and then love. Love always wins, and all children need love. I wish that all teenage foster children could experience a loving household, but that is not always reality. We can only pray that God leads more families to take in teenagers and that we remember Dave Thomas’s wise words – “These children are not someone else’s responsibility; they are our responsibility.”

Take a moment to remember a time, when as a child, you were alone, afraid, or distraught because something, such as a blanket or a toy, was missing. Children in foster care waiting to be adopted feel that loss in a much more profound way. The foster care to adoption journey is a big step of faith. It’s unnerving at times, even a little scary. We hope that our story encourages those considering foster care adoption to open their hearts to the many teenagers like Gabe that are deserving of a forever family.

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