We Went From 0 To 3 Children In '60 Seconds'

by Joanna Yates
Originally Published: 
Joanna Yates with her husband and their three kids, with one of them in the middle and the other two...
Courtesy of Joanna Yates

A few weeks ago, I wrote a very real post entitled “The Face of October.” You can read it here if you missed it. It is about my struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss. As gut-wrenching as that time in my life was, I don’t think it would be fair to stop my story there. You see, despite all those setbacks, I am still a mom. I become a mom four and a half years ago, after many prayers, tears, and heartbreaks.

Nothing about my life has been simple, or traditional, so I am not sure why I thought my journey into motherhood should be any different. I became a mom through foster-to-adopt. We went from zero children to three in sixty seconds, and it was the biggest adventure of our lives.

We always knew we wanted to adopt. We had checked into both international and domestic adoptions, but the cost was astronomical. I will never understand why the costs to adopt are so high. My mother has been a foster parent since I was 16 years old. I have gained some pretty amazing people in my life because of this. One weekend, my mom was doing respite care (watching kids for a short time) for a little girl. She was beautiful. She had black hair and was the sweetest thing. We instantly bonded. My husband and I decided to adopt her.

We went through all the training in turbo speed. When we were finished, we were given the opportunity to keep her for the weekend. A few days before she was scheduled to come, the agency called us and said that if we wanted her, we had to take her little brother as well. We decided to give it a go. That weekend was chaotic, stressful, and amazing. We went to the movies and introduced them to the family. It was what we had dreamed of. When we told the agency that we would do it, they then blindsided us by saying that if we wanted those two, we had to take their two older siblings, ages 15 and 16.

We went from zero children to three in sixty seconds, and it was the biggest adventure of our lives.

Nathan and I were 23 years old, living in a small three-bedroom, one-bathroom house, and we were expected to become parents to kids who were just 7 and 8 years younger than us. We knew this would not be the best situation for any of us, so we declined. We were heartbroken.

Courtesy of Joanna Yates

During one of the agency’s training events, the director was going from table to table introducing herself to everyone. When she got to our table, my mom introduced us, and she made a comment about us turning down the children. She told me that if I had really wanted to be a mom, that I would have taken them all, and some other snarky things. I spent the rest of the meeting crying. We left the agency, and then began to try for kids of our own, and failing.

Fast forward seven years. We had just started going to a new church. One of the bulletins that we had gotten had a picture of a little girl from another country on the cover. The magazine talked about adoption, and it was like a calling to us. That same week, we received a letter in the mail from our former foster care agency. There had been a lot of changes made during those seven years. We prayed long and hard about our decision and decided to try it again.

We filled out mountains of paperwork. We had to ask ourselves questions that we never wanted to think of: Would we be willing to take children who were very sick or missing limbs? Would we be willing to take different races and sibling groups? Nothing makes you feel worse than saying no to some of these questions, but we knew our limitations.

We finished our training and began to immediately get calls. The first two calls we received did not feel right. We declined. Two weeks after finishing our training, we received a call about a sibling trio. Everything about it fit. We knew deep down in our hearts that this is what we were meant to do, without even meeting them.

Originally, we were supposed to have been given two weeks to prepare. That got cut down to one, and then suddenly we were given three days. Three days to get beds, clothing, kid-friendly food, and all the prayers and strength we could find. Doubt began to creep up on us. The night before, we called the director and tried to change our minds. We were scared beyond anything imaginable. Thankfully, she wouldn’t let us. I think of her as our guardian angel. She will always hold a special place in our hearts for understanding that we shouldn’t let fear keep us from what we were destined to do.

Courtesy of Joanna Yates

The day they arrived was Friday, April 4th. At 1:00, the social worker arrived, bringing the three most beautiful children I had ever seen. The oldest, a 6-year-old girl, was bawling. She had just left her foster parents of three years and was scared to death. My mom was standing with me on the porch and told me to go to her. I did. She hugged me and gave me a white seashell as a gift. I still have it in my jewelry box. We took them in the house and showed them their rooms. As I was showing them their stuff, I broke down and started bawling. It was a surge of emotions that I had never experienced before. It was love and joy, fear and anxiety.

It was motherhood, and it was beautiful.

We were supposed to have been given two weeks to prepare. That got cut down to one week, and then suddenly, three days.

When the social worker left, we took the kids to the elementary school that I taught at, to enroll them. We took them to meet family, and we spent the weekend getting to know each other. We went to a game night at a friend’s house. It was there that the youngest called me “momma” for the first time and I cried like a baby.

These pictures are the first pictures we ever took of them, and with them. The smiles are all genuine. The first picture was taken in the car just an hour after they were placed with us. Their lives had just got torn apart, and they were smiling. I call it a God thing. The second picture was taken by my friend, in my classroom, after we enrolled them in school. If you look close enough, I think you can probably see some fear (and some tears) in my eyes.

I wish I could say that it has been nothing but bliss. It hasn’t. It’s parenthood, and it comes with good and bad. I wish I could say that we had nothing but support. But I can’t. There have been people who were less than supportive, but that has everything to do with them, and nothing with us.

We adopted 16 months later. I bawled, Kisha squalled, and they were officially ours. Our lives were changed forever.

Now, four a half years after our initial placement, we have adjusted as much as any parent adjusts. We are there to love them and guide them. We wear our mom and dad hats proudly. There are still people who aren’t as supportive as we would like. There are still moments of fear and anxiety. We take it day by day.

These kids are our whole world, and there is nobody who can love them more than we do. We will always be the loudest ones in the stands cheering for them, and the ones they look for when they do something great or mess up. We aren’t perfect, but no parent is. They aren’t perfect, but no child is.

In this chaotic life, though, we are perfect for each other.

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