For some, the decision to foster and adopt is a callingWritten by SAFE
For a long time, Heidi and Ryan felt they had a calling from God that they were not done building their family after having three biological children. They had heard an adoption story through their church, and by the end of the story they had made up their minds: They were going to adopt.
Heidi was not initially interested in foster care, believing it would be too difficult. She looked into foreign adoption, but doors continued to close in that area. The couple went to a Heart Gallery–a foster and adoption event that shares stories about youth in the foster care system–which changed their heart, and they began training to become foster/adoptive parents.
At the time, Heidi and Ryan were not going through SAFE’s Foster and Adopt in Austin program. They continued applying for straight adoption through another agency, but staff encouraged them to be open to infants. After the fifth or sixth time the placement staff asked, Heidi and Ryan decided to accept an infant. It was a legal risk placement of an 8-day old baby named Tucker.
“I’ve grown to such a rich level of motherhood. I would have never had the opportunity to do otherwise. I love how I am personally being refined through this process. I think I’m a better person because of my experience.” – Heidi
Heidi and Ryan adopted Tucker a year later on his birthday in 2017. As a family, they were exhausted and were ready to be done. The lengthy adoption process was emotionally draining and was especially difficult for the family’s older, biological children.
For the time being, they closed their home from fostering. However, in 2019 they were notified that Tucker had a sibling who needed placement. Heidi and Ryan’s family transitioned to SAFE at this time and quickly renewed their license. After two months, they brought Jacklyn home and adopted her in early 2021.
Their adoption story wasn’t anything they had planned. It has been challenging and beautiful. They didn’t choose adoption–adoption chose them.
Even through the hard times, Heidi felt confident that this was what she was supposed to do. She always had deep assurance of her calling, which brought her peace during the difficult moments. It was a spiritual experience for her. The family’s faith and community made a big difference.
The biggest piece of advice Heidi has for other families: “Even if you think you don’t need it, it is so important to have a formally dedicated team of people to have your back and to help with all the things. Babysitters, meals, emotional support. They made all the difference.”
She said her kids keep her on her toes. They are funny! And they love working together as a family. She loves watching the joy and love her biological children have for her adopted children.
Heidi and Ryan are still involved in their foster care community and they plan to offer respite in the future.