Sharing Heavenly Inheritance
Jeremy and Jennifer Knighton first became interested in fostering after their small group, affiliated through their church, brought Christmas cheer to a family in need. "This past year we found four girls living with extended family that didn't have a whole lot," said Jennifer. "Our small group was able to get together and give them clothes, toys, make-up, a karaoke machine and brand new bikes. We also had a sugar cookie decorating party for them. Seeing how excited these girls were to feel like the center of attention made my husband and I wonder how many other children needed to see what a loving, Christian family was like."
In making their decision, the Knightons looked for an agency that could offer them unparalleled resources and support. Their research led them to FaithBridge Foster Care. Jeremy and Jennifer moved through the process fairly quickly and were approved as foster parents in April 2013, instantly receiving their first placement.
Jeremy and Jennifer recall the day their phone rang with a match and the emotions they felt. "I remember getting the call and I was out on a job. Basically, I had to stop what I was doing and come home immediately. All the way home and even after I got there I felt so nervous. I didn't expect to be that nervous, or I should I say anxious. All I could think about was what this child is going to think about us," confessed Jeremy.
Jeremy goes on to share how their initial meeting with their new foster child went. "This young boy came into our home, introduced himself and immediately became part of our family. We enjoyed pizza together and spent the first evening just getting to know each other. It felt very natural. We were nervous with anticipation leading up to the second he got here. But as soon as he arrived, it was like he was a part of us."
The Knightons also made accommodations in their home in order to keep siblings together. "The sister was not initially placed with us because our sleeping arrangements were not set up for us to have her. We received the toddler a month after her brother arrived. We had to do some rearranging by putting our infant son and the boy in one room so she could have her own room," said Jennifer.
The Knightons started this journey with the desire not to do this alone and were humbled by the amount of support received especially during the first few weeks after receiving placement. "It was almost overwhelming the amount of people who called that I couldn't keep up with who was calling… everything from checking in on us and helping us set up appointments and dates," said Jeremy.
When asked about what has surprised the Knightons most since fostering, Jennifer responded, "For me, I think it's not only how quickly we bond to them but also how quickly they bond to us. It is such a powerful thing to know the bond we have created. They are a part of our family and always will be whether they are with us forever or not." Jeremy recalled a particular moment, "For me it was when we were at a bounce house facility with the kids and it was our foster son's birthday. There was one bounce house we had to ourselves, just him and me. We played, bounced around and tumbled down the slide together. At some point two other kids joined us to play on the inflatable. After a few a minute or two I heard him scream as loud as he could, 'Out of my way! I am playing with my dad!' Our foster son has the biggest smile on his face. It was a real sweet moment and it meant a lot to me. It showed me how much it meant to him just to have that time together. Jennifer shares another moment, "It was maybe a week after we received him, Jeremy had come down the stairs and he tearfully uttered, 'He said that he loved me.' Those are just moments that you will always hold dear to your heart."
We often say that fostering is simple, but it is not easy. Fostering or even raising your own children can come with its own challenges and trials. The Knightons' experience was no different. "I think the biggest challenge that we came across was that we were not quite prepared to go from one child to three as far as spending time with each other - with your spouse," Jennifer explained. "We are pretty much go, go, go from 6:00 am until 8:30 pm everyday with the kids. By the time we find a moment for us, we are just too tired. But we are doing the best that we can to plan dates for the two of us despite our busy schedules."
The Knightons offer the following advice to potential foster families, "If I could tell anyone who ever has been interested in fostering, follow your heart and know that there are kids that need a loving home and if you can provide it, don't hesitate," states Jennifer.
Jeremy adds, "You have to let go of your fears because your fears can keep you from doing so many great things. Consider how insignificant the sacrifices are compared to the nurturing that you are giving a child that probably has never received it before. I am reminded that spiritually, I was adopted and brought into the family of God where I am loved on and able to do amazing things in my life because if it. A new family with a new inheritance. It is that overflow of joy that is in my heart that I want to do the same thing for some of the children here on this earth. If you are called to be a parent, be a parent with whatever child you have."
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