needed a miracle—but God answered my prayer in a way that was totally unexpected.
In 1983 my family life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt. It seemed that everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong. Divorce, bankruptcy, the loss of my home, and the lack of child support devastated me. My husband left the country, and I could not reach him in order to get financial support to help raise our young child. To top it all off, my older, 19-year-old, handsome, intelligent, wonderful son began showing signs of what I found out much later to be schizophrenia. Only after two and a half years of his being homeless was I able to find him, bring him back home, have him diagnosed, and get him the help he needed.
During that time I kept crying out to God, “You know, Lord, that I need a miracle if we are going to make it.” I felt so desolate that it was impossible for me to concentrate on anything.
I seemed to be swimming in a pool of mud, unable to pull myself out. I had difficulty sleeping. A homemaker for 15 years, I didn’t know how I was going to make a living that would support me and my children and allow me to send them to Adventist schools.
I eventually landed a job with an insurance company, but my emotional state at the time affected my ability to focus on my work. My supervisor was very understanding, however, and gave me easier work assignments whenever I was especially struggling.
I’ve been an Adventist all my life, so it surprised me how little faith in God I actually had. I had Christian friends who tried to counsel and help me, but my ears were plugged, my eyes were shut, and my mind was blank. I kept trying to fix the problems myself, yet I knew I couldn’t succeed. I was in despair.
As I look back on those dark days of my life, I can see now that God was trying in various ways to reach me, and eventually He did lead me into the light using a surprising means.
Following My Heart
I’d been thinking for some time about fostering special-needs children in my home and had mentioned this idea to a good friend of mine. He encouraged me with an enthusiastic “Go for it!” So after two years of working in the insurance office, I followed my heart and took the steps necessary to care for children who need a home and a loving family—even if only on a temporary basis. This has been God’s way of healing my own family as well as helping these most unfortunate children—God’s children.
I remember reading in Christian Service, page 215: “Christianity must supply fathers and mothers for these homeless ones.” I decided that with God’s help I would bring some of God’s most vulnerable children into my home. My family and I now have five foster children sharing our home and our hearts.
Meet the Children
Oneika,* our youngest, came to us when she was 8 years old and weighed only 25 pounds. She had been physically mistreated and abused as an infant. She is blind and has a shunt in her head to drain excess water from the brain into the stomach. She is unable to hold a toy in her hand or roll over in bed. But when I look into her eyes, I can see Jesus.
Karl has been with us for several years. He has autism, and because he was born prematurely he had to stay in the hospital for four months. He is blind, severely mentally challenged, and can eat only through a feeding tube. After his stay in the hospital he was released into the care of his mother, who was single and very young. She didn’t know how to care for a disabled infant nor did she have a good support system. As a result she often neglected feeding and medicating him. Then one day she noticed Karl wasn’t moving or crying and immediately called an ambulance. Karl had gone into a coma, but the doctors at the hospital were able to revive him. Child Protective Services then took over. With intensive therapy both at home and at school, Karl is now learning to eat by mouth and to talk. He loves to giggle and is a joy to have around.
Eric was 6 years old when he came into our home. He suffered a traumatic head injury at the hands of his parents, and now he can’t talk, walk, or eat by mouth. He can sometimes
be quite aggressive, but because of his disabilities he’s not a threat to others. He likes to play with Karl and loves musical toys.
Jill came to live with us when she was 7. She has fetal alcohol syndrome and complications resulting from the disorder, including mental retardation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). With therapy at school and at home, she is learning to read. She loves to play with her two foster brothers and with fire trucks. She says she is going to be a firefighter.
Tammy is Jill’s older sister. Soon after she came to us she joined our church’s Pathfinder Club, which helped her immensely. She is blossoming into a beautiful young woman and loves to go to church. She was eventually baptized and now is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
So far a total of some 35 children have passed through our home.
The Light in the Tunnel
Providing a loving foster home for children who are mentally, emotionally, or physically challenged has changed my life. When I was personally struggling with problems that appeared overwhelming, the Lord showed me through these precious children that He loves me and is caring for me, too. I am so very grateful to God for His guidance and for bringing these special children into my life. I am truly blessed and would strongly urge that others consider fostering special-needs children, as well.
To find out more about fostering children in your home, contact your local Child Protective Services.
*The names of the children have been changed.
Eva Holdridge lives in Keen, Texas, with her husband, Jerry, and their foster children.