Editor's note: Today is National Adoption Day and to celebrate we're sharing the story of Jami Gatewood, who adopted three girls on National Adoption Day in Odessa, Texas. Jami was called to become a foster care parent first which led her to adopting Mia, Danielle and Aaliyah. Read Jami's own reflections on why she was called to become a foster parent and find out more information about the need to adopt through foster care.
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. –Psalm 147:3
In 2017, I began a journey that would change my life in so many ways. I made the decision to become a foster parent years before it came to pass; however, I was determined to meet this goal. Once I graduated college and bought a home, I completed training to become a licensed foster care parent. I was so excited, yet nervous about the unpredictable road I knew I was on.
My desire to somehow help hurting children began as a child. Growing up, I lived in a very unfortunate home. At a young age, I was aware that not all children lived in safe environments. My childhood was full of hardships, pain and fear, and I knew this was not the case in all homes.
Looking back, I remember as a little girl always having empathy for others to the point of shedding tears for them. I once had a friend ask me, “Why do you feel sorry for people who aren’t even sad?” At the time, I was clueless at what the answer was. Now, I realize I always wanted to see others happy, so I asked myself, “What can I do to make them feel better?” I didn’t realize then how that gift for compassion would lead me to a greater calling of foster care.
I began getting closer to God as a young adult, allowing him to heal me from my past. Of course, this took time, and I knew one day these struggles would be a tool to help others with similar backgrounds. I’ll never forget a service that stuck out to me one Sunday evening. I was inspired by an evangelist who spoke about an orphanage project he was beginning in Guatemala. Everything he revealed about the trauma and abuse these children suffered from inspired me to make a difference.
Choosing to foster through Buckner has been such a remarkable experience and has brought so much joy into my life. I prayed I will be a light to these children and help the wounded become whole. There are thousands of children placed in foster care, and I may not be able to make a difference in every one of their innocent lives, but I can for one child at a time.
Struggles and some hard times have not been absent while on this journey, but God has always strengthened me. The amount of support I have from my church family has definitely encouraged me and kept me strong.
I often hear the statement, “I could never foster because I would get attached," but that is exactly what children need. I always remember this quote, “Children need attachment more than I need to be protected from it.” Saying good-bye was one of the hardest parts of fostering, but this pain is a reflection of the love you gave a child in need.
These children need us to love them; they need us to pray for them. We as foster parents should grieve for them when they leave our homes because it means we have given them what they need the most: Our love.