Click For Hope

Foster Care

AWAKENED BY A MAN ON TOP OF ME

Abuse, Adoption, Breaking the Silence, Clickforhope, Depression, Forever Family, Foster Care, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Single MomJasmine Lopez13 Comments
Photos by:  Jazi Photo  Makeup by: Ashley Vela

Photos by: Jazi Photo Makeup by: Ashley Vela

Please share your story:

It all started when I was 14. I lived in Gary on 21st Sve . I was going to school and just living a normal teen life, chilling with friends and having fun. It had its ups and downs but hey who's life doesn't right?!? So in March 2012, my dad takes a trip to Puerto Rico to visit his mom, leaving my brother, mom, and me alone at home. So one day, being the nosey child that I was, I went looking for my mom but couldn't find her. I went upstairs to check and nothing. Something said go look out the window. So I went and looked, and saw my mom talking to some guy. I didn't know who he was but they exchanged something, and my mom walked back into the house. I didn't think anything of it. I'm 14, why should I really care, right? My mom always told me to stay out of grown folks business, so that's all I knew.

So a couple days later my mom comes downstairs and says "We're having company for a while." I told her, "Ummm...okay?!?" To soon found out it was the guy who she was talking to outside. I told myself, "Something is wrong here. A man is staying in our house that isn't my dad. He shouldn't be here. But she said it's only for few days, and she gets paid for it?!?" Now money was tight since no one had a job at the time, so my brother and I had to panhandle a couple time for money just to get through one day at a time.

One night, I'm asleep and the night is still. Only to be awakened by a man on top of me, touching me, and taking my innocence. My brother was asleep in the bed beside me. The man whispers, "Shhh don't tell anyone, and your mom will be okay." I laid still thinking my life is over. I'm scared...Where's my mother to protect me? He left soon after. The next morning, I walked downstairs to see my mom scooping some type of substance on a plate... Is it flour? Sugar maybe? I walk into the kitchen and she hurried to cover the plate, and told me to get back upstairs. It's now April and the same thing happens again, while I'm asleep in my bed, in my house...while my mom is God knows where. My brother and I were barely surviving and it's up to me to stop this from continuing. May is here and I have no menstrual cycle. My mom is all of a sudden curious, and asks me. "Where's your cycle?" I replied, "I don't know, late probably?" I can't even look at her. I stopped going to school because I had no motivation and no drive to do anything but live in fear.

One day my mom sent me to my grandma's church to ask for some money, but something in me said enough is enough. I went to church and I told my aunt that I didn't want to live with my mom anymore. I was tired of everything going on and I was dying inside. My other aunts, who attended the church, came over too, to gather my things, along with my brothers. We left and stayed with them for a while. I told them what happened and everyone was disappointed in my mom, in how she let her guard down and let drugs break her wall of being a real parent.

The next day, I was in the hospital getting rape kits done, swabs, and shots, only to find out I'm one month pregnant. Yes, I was 14 years old, pregnant and felt like a piece of trash without anyone or anything. My aunts told me and everyone cried. Three months past by and I'm now four months pregnant. I'm tired, big and taking everything in, all at once. I have a journal to keep me sane and it wasn't working. My aunt found it and kicked me out because of something I wrote. I was then placed into foster care and I can honestly say it was the best thing that could have ever happen to me. I missed a lot of school, so I had to do 8th grade over again which was my choice. Even though everything was bad, I was blessed with a beautiful son on December 24th, 2012. Yes I can really say he was my gift from God. I named him Alejandro Nicholas Kirkland.

I moved again shortly after that to Whiting, Indiana and my son got a terrible fever of 104.3. My foster parent really didn't care and kept saying to give him water. God whispered to me and said be patient, just watch. A few hours later, my therapist came and saw Alejandro so hot and called the abuse hotline. We went to the hospital and stayed all night. Lets just say God has his ways and perfect timing. The doctors said if we had waited any longer, he wouldn't have made it. That made my life take a turn it really needed to. We were removed from her care and moved to East Chicago, and spent a summer there. We then were placed in a foster home in Gary once again. At this time, I just couldn't deal with my life and putting my son through that didn't feel like it was right. I couldn't do this to him. I was in school but I didn't have a job and I couldn't provide for him like I wanted to.

So winter of 2014, I got placed in Dyer at a mom's home for some help and to see if I still wanted to have the role as a mom. I found out that I didn't. I didn't have help andit was hard seeing my peers with their baby's father. I was alone and no one came to see me. I loved him with all my soul and being, but I wanted better for him. I want him to have the world and some. I wanted to give him everything I never had. Summer of 2015 I gave him up for adoption. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I signed the papers and he was officially adopted. He deserves better and that's what he's going to get. God has always watched over him and I trust Him.

So its been a little over a year now and his new family spoils him and some. He loves it. I'm also glad that I could be a blessing to someone who couldn't bare on their own child. But, overall God gave me an amazing person to help guide me and steer me in the direction I needed and her name is Kiessa Hamilton. I love her so much and shes my rock. I'm sure I wouldn't be here without her pushing me to keep going forward. I will be 19 on September 18th and its crazy to think about how I've been in 6 placements, 5 schools over 4 years. Where did the time go.?.

I can't end the story here. I always told myself good things come to those who wait. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for God. I wouldn't be telling my story without Him. And I'm a firm believer, because God's work is so pure and unbelievable. He's amazing! When you think it's over, God sneaks up and says "No you're just getting started."

How has your story shaped who you are today?:

It shaped me to know that life isn't over. Keep moving forward and know you have more to live for. Life is more valuable then you think. Keep pushing through the pain and you will find healing.

What compelled you to share your story with us:

Because I've been through a lot and I feel like I can help someone overcome their troubles. To let them know they can get through what they're going through. You are a strong independent person!

What encouraging words would you say to someone who shares a similar story?:

You're strong!

You got through it!

I'm proud of you.

Keep going.

I knew you had it in you.

Never give up on your dreams.

God has plans for you.

 

Adoption | The H Family

Clickforhope, Forever Family, Foster Care, AdoptionJasmine LopezComment

Share your story: : Our fostering and adoption story began in April 2001. Darrel and I had been married only a year when my parents took in a foster baby. The news of this little baby and her situation rocked our worlds. We were planning on trying to start a family later that year but when we heard about her, we set our hearts to seeking God about how He might use us to impact her life. After a couple months it became clear to us that our heart's desires were to be her parents. It also became clear that the likelihood of her being reunited with her birth parents was very low. We started classes to become foster parents and in Oct of 2001, she was transferred into our home as our foster baby. She was 6 months old. The adoption process is long in the foster care system - even when birth parents aren't involved - so we were finally able to adopt her in May of 2003. We named her Josephine (Josie) Susan. We were finally "officially" her parents and we were absolutely thrilled! During those two years, God had deepened our passion for kids in the foster care system who need permanent homes. We told our case worker that if her birth mother had any more babies, we would take them. On Aug 6, 2003 we got a phone call that would change our lives. Josie's birth mom had had another baby girl on Aug 4th. She needed to be picked up from the hospital that day at 4pm. The voice on the phone asked "Do you want her?". Our immediate and enthusiastic answer was YES. We picked up our precious second daughter, Eliza Jane, from the hospital that afternoon. She weighed 5 lb 3oz and looked at us with dark intense eyes. We lay in bed that night completely overwhelmed at God's goodness in calling us to love these precious little girls. Eliza was adopted in Dec of 2005 when she was 16 months old. As Josie and Eliza grew, their birth mother made the decision to get her tubes tied so we knew there would be no more birth siblings. We decided to have a biological child and I gave birth to Evangeline in August of 2007. Then (much to our surprise) we got pregnant again and had a baby boy, Abraham, in Sept 2009. We are busy parents!! We are thrilled that God put the desire to foster/adopt in our hearts all those years ago and used us to provide a home for our beautiful adopted daughters. We cannot imagine our lives without them. Now that our children are getting older, we are hoping to be able to get involved in foster care again in the next couple years. We are not sure what it will look like yet or whether adoption will be a part of that, but the desire to use our home to minister to hurting children and families is still a big part of who we are and how we want to serve God.
 

How has your story shaped who you are today?: Adopting through the foster care system is long and sometimes disheartening. Walking through the experience of taking in a child, loving that child, but not really knowing if you will be given the opportunity to adopt that child is an emotionally intense and exhausting existence. The only thing we could do was cling to what we DID know - that God is good. He is faithful. He works for the good of those who love Him. He has plans to prosper us, not to harm us. And that is true for our children as well. Before the adoptions were final, we clung to those promises when fear of losing our children overwhelmed us. These experiences gave us first-hand opportunities in exercising our faith and trust in God. It built a foundation of faith that has made it easier to say "yes" to God even when the future was unclear. And we can truthfully and confidently say that it has ALWAYS been worth the risk to say "yes" to Him. It has made us into risk-takers and radical seekers and followers of Jesus and all He has for our family.

Why were you compelled to share your story on our blog?: There are thousands and thousands of children in the foster care system who need temporary or permanent homes. We love telling our story because we hope to inspire other families to step out of their comfort zone and have the guts to say "yes" to God if He is calling you into this sort of ministry to children and families. It isn't always easy and it isn't always pretty, but we can promise that it is ALWAYS worth it. We have never regretted saying "yes" to God. Once you step out in faith, you won't believe how He will bless you and equip you for the calling He has for you.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: We would quote His Word that says in Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Your journey in foster care or adoption may be messy. It may be exhausting and disheartening at times. Let me assure you - ours is too!! But answering the call that God has placed on your life and following Him despite the risk, is the safest place for you to be. It is always worth it. And you may not see fruit now, while you are in the trenches, but God's Word does not return void. He is good and He is worth following. And you don't have to do it by yourself. Isaiah 40:11 "He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those who have young."

Foster Parents | H Family

Foster Care, Adoption, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

Please share your story:

Several years ago, I felt that I was being called to be a foster parent, but my husband, Sam, was not on board at all.  People representing the foster care system would come to our church year after year and set up booths to recruit foster parents. I looked on with great interest, but Sam would tell them before we even got to church please do not go over there and sign up.

Truth is, now that I reflect back, it was all in God’s perfect timing. It wasn’t until we went on a mission trip to the Philippines that Sam’s heart began to soften. A particular experience led Sam to wonder if being foster parents was something we were actually supposed to do.

While in the Philippines in November 2012, we went to an orphanage where two little boys stole Sam’s heart.  It just so happened one was named Sam and the other Mark, which also just so happens to be Sam’s brother’s name. That trip and that experience sparked many discussions. Suddenly, we weren’t talking about IF we should be foster parents, but instead had conversations about WHEN we should get licensed and with whom.

On December 31st, just a month or so after our trip, we were at church for our New Year’s Eve Service. That is when we felt God speak to us directly. He told us we needed to become foster parents right away and without delay.  We both felt God telling us that He had someone specifically for us to raise up for the kingdom.

So, January came and we started researching different foster care agencies and found the one we felt was right for us.  We started our class the very next month and were officially licensed foster parents in May.

We were so excited and anxious to see who God had chosen for us! A few weeks after becoming foster parents, we were asked to take in two little boys. With a lot of back and forth planning and talking with our agency, having those brothers didn’t work out. They were placed somewhere else. Being faithful to God’s direction, we said, “Okay God. They were not supposed to be with us.” And again, we waited with anticipation.

In June, I received a text from my good friend who had told me about her friend’s sister who was pregnant, a heroin addict, and due to give birth in July.  She told me that the baby needed a home.  Sam and I were very reluctant to take in a heroin baby.  At this point, we had never even been parents, and adding an addiction to our newness to the job was nerve racking.  We prayed diligently about this journey, met with the birth mother and grandmother, and really felt like she should be ours.  We agreed to take her in.  Almost every day we went to the hospital to be with her, prayed over her, and loved on her.  We saw her go through so much withdrawal and pain, but felt so grateful to be alongside her.  We were in love with this little girl. We couldn’t wait to take her home.

Sadly for us, after 6 weeks of going up to the hospital and praying, loving her, being there every step of the way, the family had a change of heart.  Sam and I had never experienced such sadness and difficulty. We cried, we were angry, and ultimately, we sought out our God, asking for understanding as to why He did not want us to have her.  However, one thing I know about my is that He tests us. I believe we passed that test.

Sam and I had no idea that on September 19th, our little boy was being born! On November 24th we received an email, stating there was this little boy in the hospital that was going to be released soon and desperately needed a loving home. He had been in the hospital for quite some time detoxing from drugs, but he was doing well.  Sam and I looked at each other and immediately knew this was it!  On December 6th,  we took home the sweetest, most handsome little boy we could ever ask for.

Today, Daniel is 13 months and thriving.  We are completely in love with our little guy, and thank God daily for such an amazing gift. God is so good!  We felt him urging us to be foster parents in December. Daniel was born in September.  That’s 9 months.  I love God’s timing and how He works!

Inspired by Love | Maria & Melody

Foster Care, Adoption, Forever Family, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

At the age of two I was taken away from my biological mother because of my brother, who was 14, molested me and for my mom being in prostitution at the time. So me and all my 12 brothers and sisters got taken away from my mom. DCSF separated us and put us in different foster homes. Each foster child has a goal, either to get adopted or be independent. Independent means that once you turn 18, DCSF puts you in this program called "Independent living" and they give you a thousand dollars every month and tell you to go be an adult with no help or resources. So the government decided that I would be in the independent program, so from the age of 2 to 18 I would be in foster care and I wouldn’t be able to get adopted because that wasn’t my goal. I was placed in multiple foster homes. Every foster home was very physically and verbally abusive, that’s why I moved around so much. Once you get older, its harder to stay in a foster home because the families want babies with no problems and I guess I had a lot of issues. Nothing was stable. I was constantly getting rejected by families and feeling alone. I became very angry and started hating everyone, especially myself and I hated my life. I had no friends at school because I would move a lot and that meant I had to transfer a lot. I wouldn’t put any effort in my academics because of moving so much I thought why even try if I’m not going to be here for long and that’s how it was. I would be in one school for a week and then transfer to the next. Once I entered high school, it was the worst. They would just pass me because I was in foster care. It messed me up because I never got to write a paper. As I entered my senior year I got a new case worker because I was about to turn 18. I was getting ready to transfer into the independent living program. My caseworkers name was Gloria and she was a Christian and she told me about God. She started taking me to the youth group at her church and by the third time of me going to youth group, I asked Jesus to come live in my heart and to forgive me from my sins. Ever since then, my life has never been the same. I graduated high school as a Christian, loving Jesus, but I was afraid because I was entering into “adulthood,” and getting ready to move on my own and be independent. Once I moved out, I had no help. They fired my old caseworker Gloria, so I had nobody and I remember crying in my first apartment saying, “Father I need you to become so real to me, help me please! I’m afraid of being alone, please help me, Jesus.” I got a phone call from one of my friend's mom and asked if I wanted to go to church with her and of course I said yes. I started going to Grace and Peace Community Church. It was a small church but that’s when I started learning so much more about God, and the more I started reading His word the more I was falling in love with Jesus. One of the things I would do a lot to make Jesus real in my life is I would go on dates with Jesus. I would get all dressed up and go to a fancy restaurant and ask for a table for 2. The waiter would tell me you look nice, are you waiting for your date to arrive and I would say my dates already here at the table sitting with me (lol the look on his face was priceless). I could say that Jesus became so real He was my everything. Even though I felt alone physically, spiritually I felt so beautiful, loved and accepted. My companionship with Him was very strong.  There was a woman from the church I attended who came up to me and said, "You know, you should start praying for your husband because in the word in Psalm 37:4 it says 'Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire.'" I went home after service and I prayed to the Lord, well if you will give me my heart’s desire than I want parents and that started the journey of me praying for my parents. Once I turned 19 I met a women named Polly (she attended at Grace and Peace as well) and she was part of BreakDown, their goal is to break down society lies of love, sex and relationship through the performing arts. Well, she was looking for girls and guys who knew how to dance, sing, act or do spoken word. Since, I would sing and dance at my church, she asked me if I would like to be part of BreakDown. I said yes I would love too.I was in this group for 5 years and that’s where I met my leaders, Melody who then married her husband CD. They where the leaders for a season and then they left because they felt God was calling them to serve at their church. Around the time they left I was like 22 to 23 and I was still praying for my parents. I would remember going on dates and telling Jesus, "When is it going to happen." He said, "If I don’t give you parents, Maria, am I not enough?" I started to cry and I said, "Yes you are." He said, "Surrender that desire and trust me, I know what’s best." After that talk with Jesus I stopped praying for my parents and started putting my trust in Him even more and that was hard. Many nights I would cry myself to sleep thinking what is my purpose, who am I. I’m 24 now and still nothing’s changed everything is still the same, going to church, loving God and serving at my church, I’m still part of BreakDown,  but the people on our team were drifting away. Every year we would have retreats for every BreakDown team in the world and we would meet up and do performances and get an encouraging word from the speaker. It would be great like one big happy family. For the team in Chicago, this was our last retreat. So Melody contacted everyone on the team to see who wanted to go and I was the only one from my team that went. It was fun, it was just me Melody and her new born baby Jael. We all stayed in the same hotel room and with a curious look on Melody’s face she asked me “What’s your story, Maria?" I shared my entire story with her and then she got really emotional and she said wouldn’t that be cool if I was your mom and I said yes!!! That would be cool but nothing happened after that. The retreat was over, I went back home and she went back home to her family and everything was back to normal.  A woman from my church asked me if I wanted to go to a trip with her daughter to Puerto Rico (at the time I use to mentor her daughter) so I said, "Sure I’ll go." We went to Puerto Rico and it was great. It was my first time ever going and by the third day of being there, I received a phone call from CD, Melody’s husband, which was so weird because I never spoke to him before. We talked on the phone and he told me they had been praying for me. I was like okay thanks and then he asked me a question and said, “Maria you been on my heart and I wanted to ask you a question but I didn’t want to creep you. Would you give me the honor of being your dad and if you say yes, I would want you to come home and live with us? I would want to restore everything that the enemy has stolen.” I felt like time stopped, I couldn’t believe that this was happening, my hearts desire was to have parents. I was screaming all over the house and it was raining outside, so I took my friend out with me. I told her the Lord has given me parents and we started dancing in the rain. That was the best day of my life. I couldn’t believe it. I’m actually going to be part of a family that is my own.  On September 25, 2010 I became a Fabien, so my name is now Maria Isabella Fabien Salgado. My life now has never been the same, God has used my Dad to heal me from so many wounds of what men have done to me in the past when I was in foster care. The have been healed and restored from everything that the locust has eaten. Now I love going out and sharing my story because there is such freedom in sharing our stories. My favorite verse is Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.

What would you tell someone who has a similar story:

There is hope! You were created with purpose, and you are called for greatness. There are great people out there that can be there for you, who will love you in the midst of the chaos and hurt. It's the choices that we make that will determine your future.

Hair and Makeup: Erica Alexis Artistry

Foster Care/Adoption | Maria

Foster Care, AdoptionJasmine LopezComment

Please share a bit of your story:

My son was about 18 year's old and Erica's mother was 16 when she had her. They were young parents and not able to care of her and be responsible. They would occasionally drop her off to me and wouldn't come back for days. She was very little, only weeks old.  It had gotten to the point where they had dropped her off for me to watch her again and all she had on was a onsie in the middle of winter and burning up with a fever crying. I rushed her to hospital where they informed me that she had thrush and was running a fever of 104. They asked for my relationship status and if I was the mother. I said no and told them the situation. Once they heard what was going on they told me I needed to call DCFS and take custody of the Erica since she was living in an unstable environment. We went through so many court cases and by now Erica was about 3 months old, living with me. They granted me custody of her until her parents got their situation under control and could provide a safe and stable home for Erica. I cared for and loved Erica as my own. When Erica was about 5 months old, the court decided it was time for her to go back with her parents since they had an apartment and jobs. It was so heart breaking to give her back since I had bonded with her. It was like she was mine. I trusted God and knew He would be watching over her. Years went by and Erica's parents split up. I saw her on and off again, and they still would sometimes drop her off by me so I can to see her. At the age of 10, Erica made the decision to live with me permanently because she wanted a stable life and stable school. By the time she came to live with me she had been in 11 different schools and moved around a lot with her mother and brothers. Again we went back to court and Erica gave her testimony and the court granted me guardianship of her. I put her in a stable school and had two jobs to so I could provide for her. I always told her to trust God in everything and to follow Him. When my husband was incarcerated in '07 it was just Erica and I. I was still working two jobs to support us. We went through hard times financially, but  stuck it through continuing to trust in God as we dedicated our lives to Him in '05. I raised Erica as my own and did the best I could by myself and with God's help. At the age of 16, Erica reunited with her mom,  and wanted to go live with her. Again my heart hurt because it was like I was losing her all over again. I trusted God and let her go. After a year with her mom, she came back to me, as the lifestyle her mom was living was not what Erica was looking for. She moved back in with me, and it wasn't easy raising a teenager, but we persevered. At the age of 20 she met her husband at our current church and got married at 21. I taught her that God was always watching over us, and to never lose hope.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? *
God might be calling you to do something you feel you aren't ready to do or even be able to handle, but you could be saving that child's life and giving them hope and a future!

Hair and Makeup: Erica Alexis Artistry