“I’ve always wanted to be a mother since I was a little child.” It was the only certainty I had. My mother passed away when I was five years old, and the few memories I have of her have formed me into the mother I am today.

I met Patrick, my husband when I was 18 years old, and we married pretty shortly. We knew we wanted to start a huge family right away from the outset. I was born into a large family. My spouse is an only child, while I am one of six children.

We decided to start trying for children in 2009. During my reproductive window, I did everything, even checking my temperature and drinking pineapple juice. After seeing so many negative pregnancy tests, I was convinced that God was telling me that becoming a mother was not in the cards for me.

From 2011 until 2015, we took an extended break. We weren’t attempting anything, but neither were we preventing anything. We relocated from Washington to Florida, back to Washington, and finally to Arizona for around two years during that time.

In 2015, we returned to Washington and began the process of trying for a baby all over again. We began seeing a specialist and tried three rounds of IUI, all of which failed.

A friend of mine who is a foster mom contacted me a number of times to discuss fostering. Patrick and I had always spoken about adopting, but we believed it would never happen.

My husband grew up in a household where his aunt was a foster parent, so he was familiar with the process. I refused to speak with my friend on several occasions because I was afraid of opening the door to fostering.

We, like a lot of other people, had no idea how the foster care system operated. After about six months, she contacted me again. ‘Our state needs more good foster homes,’ she said. ‘Right now, children are sleeping in hotel rooms.’

I was completely sold on the idea of pursuing foster care by the end of the conversation.

I only had to persuade Patrick. We had another meeting with my pal, this time with her husband.

Patrick was able to gain insight into foster care from a masculine perspective. We prayed together before deciding to enroll in training.

We began training in January 2017 and received our formal certification in June 2017. Our family was extremely supportive of our decision to foster; they knew how long we had prayed for children and couldn’t wait to see us help the community.

We received a call from the placement desk on July 12th. I was at work when the call came through, and I missed it. ‘They have a placement for us, call them back now!’ I told my husband right away. There was a cute 15-month-old who needed to be moved.

Her current foster mother was resuming her studies and only taking short-term emergency placements. ‘She’s quite introverted and has attachment issues,’ stated the social worker on the phone.

She stopped for a moment before saying, ‘She’s white.’ Is that all right?’ ‘She needs a home, right?’ my husband responded without hesitation. Her race is unimportant.’

We were given her foster mother’s phone number within an hour and made plans to welcome her into our home the next day. We were both frightened and perplexed that the exchange would take place between us without the presence of a social worker.

We witnessed a scared little girl the next day when she walked in, not understanding why she had to be uprooted from her previous placement. She cried for what seemed like a day and a half. I couldn’t put her down because she wouldn’t let me.

I was emotionally spent by the end of the night. I was almost convinced that bringing her in was a mistake. ‘What the hell did we just do?’ I wondered aloud.

It was a terrifying time. Felicity then began calling us ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’ on her own one day. I knew we’d made the right choice at that point.

We knew from the start that reunification was the goal. We were really proud of her tummy mommy for the effort she was doing for her kids when she arrived.

She’d take the bus to each visit, bringing a crockpot with her so her kids could share a home-cooked lunch. Until one day, everything came to a halt.

We’d been working on the case for approximately a year when she suddenly stopped turning up. Of course, we don’t know the details of her side of the story, but I feel she has given up hope.

She witnessed her children bonding and attaching to the family with whom they were living, and I believe she did not want to separate them from them. Felicity’s mother began working on her case about six months before she became legally free, and she put up a solid fight.

Three days before her case was about to go to trial, she signed away her rights.

Knowing a mother loved her children so much she was prepared to sign away that aspect of her life was the most bittersweet sensation. I will be eternally grateful to her for her sacrifice.

We expanded our license 9 months after Felicity was placed with us to allow us to take in another child. I received a call from our placement support hotline on February 9th, 2018. ‘So, you and Patrick are open to accepting infants, right?’ he asked.

‘Absolutely!’ I exclaimed. ‘How would you like to take in a 5-day-old?’ he replied. He is currently in the hospital due to his premature birth, but he will be discharged in a few days.’

‘Oh my gosh, yes!’ I said. He went on to say that he will prepare the placement work and that I should receive it via email shortly. It was quite difficult for me to focus on my work.

He called me back about an hour later and said, ‘Hey, I just wanted to give you a quick update.’ The baby was born with a high level of drug exposure.

He is fed through a tube and may require oxygen. He’ll have to spend roughly a week in the hospital. ‘Do you still want to look after him?’ We did, of course!

My spouse and I were in the hospital seeing him by the weekend. We took turns feeding and caring for the babies in the NICU. We were close to losing him.

When my husband went to see him, he stopped breathing. Patrick was a hero, and he used his CPR abilities to resuscitate him. That is one incident about which my husband will not speak.

Samuel spent 32 days in the NICU and was discharged a few days before his due date. He was taken off of oxygen and the feeding tube when he returned home.

He struggled to acquire weight at first, but we were able to help him grow weight. He is now a very active two-year-old who adores his mother.

Samuel’s tummy mommy sent me a mail about seven weeks after he returned home. She wanted to tell me first that she was seven weeks pregnant. Mommy A and I have a great relationship.

We were aware that the baby would be taken into care, and we hoped that he would be reunited with his brother. As a result, I had exactly nine months to prepare for a new baby.

Judah was born on December 19, 2018. That wasn’t his biological mother’s name, of course. ‘He is finally here!’ she remarked as she texted me a photo. I fell in love with him the instant I saw his picture. He was on the verge of being adopted by another family.

We fought so hard for him, and he was back with us in just 7 days. I became a mother to three children under the age of two in less than a year and a half. The boys are ten months and fifteen days apart in age. I wouldn’t alter a thing about it.

I consider myself really fortunate to have such an open relationship with our tummy mothers.

Almost every day, I express my gratitude for their sacrifice. Felicity and Samuel were adopted on January 31, 2020. We waited as long as we could because we wanted to adopt all three of them at once, but it didn’t work out.

Judah was officially adopted on July 2, 2020. I never imagined myself as a mother or capable of loving as deeply as I do now as someone who is infertile.

You can’t tell me or my kids we’re not a family because our skin doesn’t match. We live in a predominantly white neighborhood and have experienced no discrimination or prejudice, which I am grateful for. Families are not required to be matched.

As our children grow older, we are having more and more conversations about race and color. The youngsters are aware that our skin is different, yet it makes no difference to them. We haven’t encountered bigotry, but we do attract attention, especially when the kids cry “mommy and daddy.”

Our foster care experience is one-of-a-kind. Our first three placements were Felicity, Sam, and Judah. We had a few short-term and weekend assignments as well, but these three were the only ones who stayed. It’s really uncommon for anyone to adopt so rapidly.

I know people who have fostered a lot of kids for a long time but never adopted. When we first started, all we wanted to do was love on these kids for as long as they were with us. Adoption was never a primary consideration. I am extremely grateful for our adventure.

We don’t know what the future holds for us in terms of foster care. As a family, we’re basically going with the flow right now. Patrick and I are so passionate about telling our story that we have decided to start a podcast.

We’re still working out the logistics, but we’re happy to share our enthusiasm for transracial adoption as well as information about it. Families like ours are few and far between, but they do exist.”

The story and photos: Courtesy of Lauren Kial Photo