Marie always knew she wanted to be a mom. The Jacksons started as a family of 6, traveling often and very close-knit. The parents of the household, Marie and Robb, owned a clothing line for most of the kids’ young childhood. Marie homeschooled their 4 children while they traveled to festivals around the country year-round. The family was closer than most and the kids grew up in an environment of caring for those around them.
On their long road trips, there was often talk about wanting to adopt. Robb and Marie were very open with the kids about wanting to adopt in the future. Years went on as they waited until they felt they were in the right place to begin the process. They believed God would lead them to the opportunity when the time was right.
After years of prayer and many conversations, the couple decided it was time to begin the process. They did their research and decided to become foster parents, with every intention of adopting. After attending their first training, they realized that “just adopting” through foster care wasn’t as easy as they thought. They soon came to realize that there was a huge need in foster care and felt God was calling them to love children that they may not forever get to call their own. Marie and Robb began the foster parenting program, with their hearts geared towards simply loving children and giving them the care they needed.
“We went in ready to adopt. Then I remember driving home one night from class and looking at Robb and saying “we aren’t going to just get to adopt, are we?” He responded “I don’t think so”. We made a decision that night that we would open our hearts to fostering and trust that when OUR kids were ready to be adopted, God would place them with us and we’d be done fostering.”
Before they knew it, they sold their business in order to have the time needed to care for the youth in need. They had up to 9 foster kids in their home at a time (plus their 4 biological kids) and the family was fully in on caring for the foster children that were placed in their home. The reality of the foster care system became apparent very quickly. The blessings were great and the struggles were hard.
“The biggest struggle while fostering was two-fold. One was saying goodbye. Loving someone knowing they would leave you is hard. The other was knowing you had absolutely zero control over how things would go. The goal is ALWAYS reunification. Sometimes as a foster mom you feel in your heart that reunification is a bad idea. Or that what the child really needs is not what the system desires for them. It’s a struggle having no say and trusting those that do.”
As much as the Jackson family had prepared themselves for fostering, their hearts always had the desire to adopt. It wasn’t long before the heartbreak became evident as children were going in and out of the home.
“Fostering teaches you a lot about how selfish the human heart is. About how selfish your own heart is. It was excruciating to fall in love with a child only to be told that they found a kin relative that was willing to take them. Or that the baby you nursed back to health was being given back to the very person that hurt them in the first place. There is something about loving someone with your whole heart that will never be able to love you in the same way. It is the most selfless way I have ever given of myself. It is love without expectation. It is sacrificial love that you can count on ending in despair.”
The family spent 18 months providing foster care. In that process they fostered an estimate of 35 kids and adopted 4 boys.
“The biggest blessing by far was meeting our 4 boys. I will never get over the privilege of being theirs.”
Although they started with the intention to adopt, they came to terms with the fact that they were called to love so many more kids than they could’ve ever adopted.
Lanni Jackson, Contributor