This guest blog post is written by Michelle Thompson. She and her husband, Richard, have five children, two of whom were adopted from foster care, Karissa and Theo; and three biological sons, Ben, Rick and J.D.
The day a state car pulled into our driveway with a scared, but precious 5-year-old boy, I knew I had discovered one of my reasons for being on the planet. Loving a child who has been wounded is one of the most sacred trusts I have ever been given. As our son’s case continued, I was subpoenaed to testify. That day at the court house, I gave his birth mom his school picture. She responded by asking me if we would adopt him. As we talked, she told me that she had grown up in foster care and had “no idea how to do this.” We adopted our son several months later, but her words were often on my mind.
Knowing her story made us think about the many girls who age out of the system each year and have “no idea how to” … have enduring relationships, hold down a job, pay their bills, maintain their vehicles, etc. One day, I shared with a friend my newly discovered passion for these girls and how we, as a society, needed to do something to help. I soon learned that this friend was a friend of a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruiter.
Two weeks later I received a phone call that would change our lives. On the phone was Carol, the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruiter. She told me about Karissa, an amazing teenage girl who would soon be aging out of care without a family. As she was talking, so many things were going through my head. This wasn’t the plan. My husband and I had no idea how to raise a young girl, let alone a teenager. Having raised three boys already, we had decided to “stick with what we knew” and only foster or adopt boys. While I didn’t give Carol a decision that day, I began thinking non-stop about this unknown girl. I prayed for her and began to dream. I knew Karissa had been through many placements and no one had ever committed to her forever. We decided that if we said yes, it was forever – NO MATTER WHAT. She needed to be loved just like our four sons.
The decision took us a few months to make. After all, if we did this girl thing, we would be jumping head first into the deep end of a pool that we hadn’t even tested with our toes! Carol sent me a picture of Karissa and I received permission to begin sending her letters and then care packages. The day we met I knew my life would never be the same. I sat across the table from a truly precious human being. I could see the fear in her eyes and wondered if she saw the same in mine. But with the fear I also saw hope. At that moment, I knew I would be the one human who would be there for her – no matter what. I knew I wanted to hear her call me “mom.” I wanted to help her pick out her prom dress, to teach her to drive, to watch her walk across the graduation stage. Someday, I may be the mother of a bride and the grandmother to her children. No matter what, I will always be her mom.
To say that my daughter is one of the best things that has ever happened to me would be an understatement. I love her in a fiercely protective way and am SO honored to be her mom. I wish the world knew the feeling of being loved by a precious human being who chooses to take a risk on you and love you with all of her heart. We adopted Karissa to change her life, but she has changed ours in so many indescribable ways.
Photo 1 caption: The Thompson family on Karissa’s adoption day. Back row (left to right): Ben, Rick, Richard, and J.D. Middle row: Michelle, Karissa, Rick’s wife, Rebekah; and J.D.’s wife, Hannah. Front row: Theo.
Photo 2 caption: Karissa (far right) with her family on vacation.