By Lauren Hollon Sturdy
When Jason and Nikki Waligura first took the plunge into adoption, they had no idea what lay at the end of their long journey.
After a difficult first pregnancy, the Waliguras wanted more kids, but didn’t want to relive the physical risks of conceiving and carrying a child. So when their son, Landon, was 5, they began researching adoption with the intention of adding another boy to the family. At the end of 2008, they filled out paperwork, completed a home study and prayed – a lot.
“When we started, we were focused on adoption only,” Nikki said. “We were very scared of foster care – afraid of the possibility of getting attached to a child and having to let them go.”
They waited and waited, and felt God leading them toward foster care, no matter how much they resisted. Finally, they opened their hearts and home to foster placements. Their first placement came in the summer of 2009 – a little girl, which they didn't expect. But they trusted God’s plan.
“She ended up going home to her mother after eight months, and we were absolutely devastated,” Nikki said. “But then two days after she left, while we were still grieving over it, Child Protective Services called and said that the child’s biological mom wanted to ask if we’d be open to babysitting her on weekends.
“For six months straight, we got to babysit her Friday through Sunday. We became close with the mom, and we even got to share Jesus with her. Still, to this day, we talk to her occasionally. It’s things like that that make it all worth it.”
Their second placement was a set of half sisters. The girls also returned to their birth family, and Nikki said the pain of letting go didn’t get any easier the second time around.
“Foster parents give and give and give and sometimes don’t get a lot in return,” said Whitney Floyd, Buckner case manager for the Waligura family. “You need to have that unconditional love. Those two girls came to the Waligura family scarred and angry, but left their home healthy, happy and secure, knowing that they had been deeply loved and cared for by Jason and Nikki. They truly are amazing foster parents.”
The losses weren’t easy for Landon, now 8, either, but Nikki said they talk about the girls all the time, and Landon prays for them before bedtime, asking God to keep them happy.
In January, two brothers – Dakota, 2, and Corbin, 3 – came to live with the Waliguras.
“When they first came into care, the boys didn’t seem to be aware of their surroundings,” Floyd said. “They were reserved, didn’t make eye contact and didn’t make a sound. They didn’t have much personality. In the last 10 months, the change has been drastic. Now I’m starting to see some of that develop. The older brother is an entertainer. When they go out to eat, he’ll have the whole restaurant looking at him. He loves to get people to laugh and smile. The younger brother is talking more, and now when I do home visits, he’ll come and interact with me for the first time.”
Their other placement is a 6-year-old girl named Dixie who was abused by relatives. She is in therapy to work through what she experienced, and she’s a happy little girl.
“In her time with the Waliguras, Dixie has really blossomed,” Floyd said. “She’s doing well in school. She’s very social. They’ve gotten her involved in music lessons, soccer, swimming and gymnastics.”
Making it permanent
The Waligura family is looking forward to celebrating National Adoption Day Nov. 16, when they will finalize their adoption of Dixie, Corbin and Dakota and become a “forever family” of six.
“I can’t put into words how incredibly blessed by God we’ll be when we finalize the adoptions,” Nikki said. “This is something we could never have imagined to be so good. It hasn’t always been easy, and it still isn’t, but it’s been the biggest blessing of our lives.”
In fact, the couple has been so blessed by their experience they are planning to start a foster care and adoption ministry out of their home to help and encourage others who are considering it or who are in the process.
“We’re planning to start after the new year,” Nikki said. “We live pretty far out, and we didn’t know anyone else in our community who had gone through this when we first started. But over the months and years, so many people have approached us and asked us about fostering and adoption, so that’s what prompted us to start this ministry.”
When asked what it takes to be a good foster parent, Nikki didn’t hesitate.
“Commitment,” she said. “We were fully committed to being parents to these kids. We do whatever it takes to make sure their needs are met. We’re the kids’ biggest advocate. It takes commitment and willingness to love. We love them so much they are ours.”