The Perfect Family For Each Other
Long before Barrett and Steph met, God laid on both of their hearts a passion for adoption. When the young couple began to dream about a future together, they both knew, “whether it would be immediate or down the road, it was going to be a part of our journey to foster, adopt, or both.”
After having been blessed with four years of marriage and two biological daughters, Stella and Quinn, Barrett and Steph welcomed their first foster child into their home: 15-month-old DeMario. A year later, DeMario’s adoption was finalized.
“One of the things we realized quickly was that he was a pretty anxious kid. He had a speech delay, so he couldn’t communicate with us very well with his words, and that brought him a lot of anger and anxiety. When he was mad at anyone in the house, it didn’t matter who he was mad at or where I was in the house, he would come find me, and he would yell or hit my leg or something just to show that he was upset. I was really struggling with it. One time I was frustrated, and Stella, who was five or six at the time, was like, ‘Mom, I think you could try to be a little bit nicer to him. He’s doing his best.’ And I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, great. I’m getting advice from a six-year-old.’ But it was the best advice I could have ever gotten. She was right. We were all just doing our best.”
During DeMario’s first year in the family, Steph taught him basic sign language so he could communicate non-verbally, but the real solution came when DeMario’s brother-to-be, 18-month-old Giovanni, came home. “I remember the anxiety around our house was still pretty high from teaching DeMario how to talk and navigate his anxiety. When Gio moved in, it was like our whole house took this collective breath. They bonded so quickly that DeMario’s anxiety went from an 8 to a 4.” It turned out that Gio’s biological brother had the same anxieties as DeMario, and he naturally loved and cared for his newfound brother exactly the way DeMario needed.
Six years later, Steph is still amazed at God’s goodness in piecing together their family.
“The best thing is just watching the four of them interact. There’s no difference in the love. They’re siblings. There’s the bickering, you know, that doesn’t go away, but to see them openly loving and accepting each other has been one of the best blessings of my life. God knew the hearts of all those four little sweet babies, and He knew we would be, not a perfect family, but we’d be perfect for each other.”
In reflecting on the ups and downs of their foster care and adoption journey, there are a few things Barrett and Steph want you to know:
“If anybody tells you it’s easy or tries to sell you on the ease of it, they’re not setting you up for success because it’s not. It’s not easy. But we’ve felt that because it’s not easy, it did really amazing things for our family. There is something so grace-filled about being broken to the point where you have nothing left to give. I’m one of those guys that when I walk into a situation, I like to know plans A, B, and C. I like to have control. But in living that way, I can miss out on that Jesus wants to bless me with because I’m not looking for the opportunities he’s giving — I’m plowing through with my plan. And this was a season where I was at the end of my rope. I had no solutions other than prayer. And I can say it’s so freeing to get to the point where you have to trust the things you know to believe and put them into practice.” — Barrett
But everyone can do something. Barrett and Steph agreed that while not everyone is called to foster or adopt, there are plenty of ways to support those who are, remarking that they “would never have gotten through this journey without our supportive family and friends. They were a lifeline.”
“I just didn’t anticipate how many people were going to come forward in so many different ways to surround us and really be a part of this foster care and adoption journey. They didn’t foster. They didn’t adopt. And they were never called to do that. But we’ve seen this network of support from our family being stretched and grown in the same way that we have, and they’ve been such a picture of the grace of God to us.” — Barrett
If God isn’t leading you to open your home to foster and adoptive children, Barrett and Steph invite you to consider how you can be His hands and feet to those who do.
Throughout Scripture, God reveals His heart for the hurting and calls us to live as vessels of His compassionate love. The examples are endless, but perhaps one of the clearest is Jesus’ teaching about the day of Final Judgment, when we will give an account of the way we spent our life on earth:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” — Matthew 25:36–40
God’s heart is for the broken, the weary, and the vulnerable and, according to Jesus, to love those in need — “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction” — is to love God Himself (James 1:27).
“God will write the path and write the plan. We just have to be willing to start walking in some direction. I have always felt a passion for adoption, and I didn’t know what it was going to look like. And God led the exact people in my life at the exact moment to say that one thing I needed to hear. So, my advice to anybody out there who has never thought about adoption, or maybe is scared or frightened, is just to be prayerful. God has given us so much guidance and wisdom for our path. We just have to trust Him.” — Steph
If you’re not sure whether foster care or adoption are part of God’s purpose for your life, take Steph’s advice and start with prayer, humbly seeking His will for you and your family. You may not know where He’ll lead, but you can trust Him.
“There’s so much need, but that’s not the reason that I would say to do it. I would say to do it because there’s so much blessing. It can be scary. It could not make sense. The timing’s never perfect. Our timing was, well, it was at the worst time — but we still got to say yes. And it’s been the biggest blessing. I can’t imagine it any other way. I can’t imagine my daughters, myself, my boys, without this experience.” — Barrett
The Wimers’ story is one of choosing not comfort or complacency, but the uncertainty that comes with caring for the forgotten and unloved of this world. And the truth is, they got much more than they gave. The love of their children and blessings from their Father far outshine any bumps along the way. So, take it from Barrett and Steph: it’s worth it.
Written by: Melaina Jaeger & Winsten Dickerson
Published by Woodside Bible Church, www.woodsidebible.org