Newsletter / Issue 34, August 2017

The Duells' Journey Towards Foster Care

By Kristin Duell

Foster Need

Our journey towards fostering has been an ongoing one. Even when we were first engaged we had a heart towards foster care and adoption. When Ben and I did our premarital counselling with Dave Gevock in 2002 we talked about wanting to adopt. From the very beginning of our marriage God had given us a heart for children.  After our youngest Riggins was born we began feeling even more drawn to adoption and foster care. As we’ve prayed about this over the past several years we have not heard a clear cut yes to adopt but felt like in the midst of waiting that we wanted to do something. Foster care felt like a great way for us to be used by God as we waited for more clarity.  

The process to get where we are at currently did not happen overnight. It has been a long process. Even this past year has been one of growth for us personally and collectively in our marriage that has been necessary in helping me reach this point. After leading a LIFE Group for the past 10 years we decide to step back and take a year off. During this time, we pursued different things individually and collectively to invest in our marriage. We took a marriage class with Dick and Nancy in the fall of 2016, went on a marriage retreat called A Weekend to Remember in April of this year as well as met with men and women who poured into us as we took a step back. It was a huge year for my own personal growth in many ways. My WOTY (word of the year) last year was "Self-Care." For me lately self -care has looked like running. I ran two half marathons last year and for me it was a beautiful picture of setting a goal and meeting it. Through that process God used different relationship to encourage me and build into me. My running partner Maris Deaver introduced me to Megan Meadows and Amelia Eads. The four of us would talk while we trained on long runs and, while exhausting, it was so life giving. On many runs I was alone with my thoughts and I really met God during those times. It turns out that this self-care was very necessary for me to get to the point where I was ready to pursue foster care further.  To anyone considering adoption or foster care I would urge you to explore self-care for yourself. Working on myself has been critical in reaching a point where I felt I had more to offer others.

Several New Hope families have been instrumental in helping us gain a heart for foster care. Aaron and Audrey Armstrong, Jeff and Julie Moore, Robbie and Gail Nutter, Brad and Shea Palmer, Kyle and Carrie Beyer, Kirby and Cara Lemoine, Lucas and Rachel Shivers—just to name a few. Watching and learning from each of those families has helped us get to where we are at today.

Six years ago we had the privilege of watching our good friends Todd and Jenn Stewart adopt a little girl out of the foster care system. We watched God place her on their hearts, go through MAPPS class (a 10 week course let by trained social workers to receive training and education on children in trauma and foster care) get their house ready and inspected and we sat in the courtroom and watched the adoption legally be finalized. It was so amazing and inspiring to get to be a part of their journey during that season!  

We have also really enjoyed watching Robbie and Gail Nutter on this journey with their different foster placements. I have so enjoy talking with her about their lives and how they have passion for fostering. One of the exciting things we have talked about is the idea of helping each other out as foster families because we will need help and community.

We got our license in the mail this summer and we will be taking placements from children 0-5. We are planning initially to start with respite care. Respite care is where you take the children for a short time but they usually a have foster parents already.  Sometimes the family needs a break or wants to go out of the state, and the children legally need to stay in Kansas. We continue to be in prayer about who we will take. Please join us in praying for whoever walks through the doors of our home. Pray that we would welcome them in and for the transition for them in the midst of everything else going on in their lives. We know that welcoming these children into our home will not be easy.  Many of them have experienced trauma in various forms that impacts how they view the world and how they view other people.

In the midst of waiting, there have been some ways the enemy has already been at work.  There are lies I find myself believing during this process and ways that he has tried to convince me I’m not good enough. We would love prayer in combatting the lies and believing the truth that God has called us for such a time as this. Pray that we would fearfully make known the mystery of the Gospel to the children that enter into our home.

If you’re interested in taking a next step towards foster care of respite care please let me know or be in touch directly with Emily Selby of TFI Family Services at 785-845-2954 or eselby@tfifamily.org.