Amberly Houser and I met last year at a retreat for adoptive and foster moms hosted by Hope That Binds, a western Kentucky ministry we both love. I’ve since watched her family and faith grow as she shares on social media about her journey as a foster mom.
May is Foster Care Awareness Month. Even if we aren’t called to foster care, we can support families who are and hearing their stories is good for my soul. With that in mind, please welcome Amberly to my virtual porch today as she shares an incredible story of recognizing fear is a liar and God connects people in surprising ways.
Hi. I’m Amberly, and Kristin asked me to share about foster care, specifically our relationships with the biological family. Let me begin by introducing myself and my family: My husband Matt and I have six kids. We have three biological and three foster children who have lived with us for more than a year. Our kids are 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9 years old. Yes, you read that correctly!
We began fostering in 2017 after I felt a calling that I just couldn’t escape and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.
When the “little kids,” as we call them in our house, arrived, their biological mother was incarcerated. For three months there were no visits, no communication, nothing. When she got out of jail the weekly visits started. So did my fear. I was terrified of this woman who I knew little to nothing about. I didn’t want her knowing who I was, where I lived or who my biological children were. That felt so dangerous to me.
From July 2017 to March 2018, we had weekly visits and I never met their bio mama. The social worker would transport my little kiddos to and from visits and I was completely out of the equation. Around October or their biological mother asked to meet me and I immediately said, “NO WAY!” There was no consideration, it was an automatic no. I was told she “just wanted to know where her kids were and who they were with.” I totally got that – but, still, I wasn’t willing.
Let’s fast forward to March. With an impending court date and a swirl of emotions, out of what felt like nowhere, I started wondering if I should meet her. During the past year, nothing indicated that she would be an unsafe person to know my identity and I started to believe I was afraid of nothing, of my own shadow.
I messaged my friend Celeste and said, “Do you think I should go to court and meet her?” She was like, “WHAT?!? Where did this come from?” For a week or so I tossed the idea around.
Of course, along this time the song “Fear is a Liar” by Zach Williams played on a loop on my radio. I am constantly saying Jesus is in my radio and this cemented my thoughts and my decision to run at the fear and meet bio mama D. I was acting from a place of fear and fear is not of God.
As I sat outside the courtroom, about to come unglued from anxiety, I waited for D to arrive. She had no idea I would be there waiting for her and she sat directly across the hall from me and began talking to a personal friend who was there for her. I stood up, walked forward and stuck out my hand. I said, “Hi, my name is Amberly and I am your kids foster mom.” She locked eyes with me, didn’t let go of my hand, and we just connected. She was immediately encouraging and thanked me for taking care of her kids.
After court was over we exchanged phone numbers and started texting daily. We had an immediate connection and I shared with her a year’s worth of photos she hadn’t seen. During the last couple of months, she has come to the house for Sunday lunch, attended church with us, and met us at the park. We have basically begun the task of bridging a year’s gap. I was honest with her from the get-go about why I didn’t meet her. I told her I was scared and she said she understood and even said she knew I was probably afraid. She told me she was nothing but thankful for what we had been able to provide for the little kids and she did not want me to be afraid of her.
D shared her story with me, and we have continued speaking every single day. She has become so invested in our family. We spent Mother’s Day together, she attends the birthday parties for my biological children, and she recently sat through a three-hour recital to support my youngest bio. She calls me “sissy” and constantly tells me she loves me. But the thing is – we love her just as much. She’s the most positive person I’ve ever been around and is a constant encouragement.
What this looks like now is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. As far as the impact this has on the kids, it’s wonderful. They know she and I are on the same page and have high expectations of them. If they get in trouble at daycare we will message her and she will fuss at them and remind them how we all expect them to behave. She sat alongside me at the boys’ preschool program. The oldest little kid – R – will proudly tell everyone that he has two moms. He says, “I have a brown mom and a white mom!” We tell him how lucky he is to have two mamas who love him so much.
This isn’t traditional parenting or maybe what you would design, but, let me tell you, it’s absolutely the closest I’ve ever felt to Jesus. I know he is working and bringing us together. We are able to witness firsthand the redemptive power of our Savior, which is humbling and breathtaking.
Fear kept me from this relationship for a year, but I’m certain God is bringing beauty from the ashes of this situation. Fear is a liar.
Amberly Houser is a mother, wife, and self-proclaimed hot mess. By day, she’s an elementary school teacher. By night, she drives kids to and from practices in her big blue bus while blaring Jesus music. Donuts are the way to her heart, followed closely by snarky T-shirts and Bible journaling. She prays God will show her the front of the puzzle box, but He keeps handing her one piece at a time. She believes she can accomplish anything in a day with a cup of coffee, dry shampoo, and fake lashes. This is the story of her life and what it’s like to Grow Up Houser.