My Jerimiah

I’ve never written a blog quite like this, and if I’m being honest, I’m doing it with a bit of trepidation that people may think I’m off my rocker. That’s ok, though. I believe God gives me experiences and wants me to write about them. This is one such experience.

In July of this year, I had something happen that was unlike anything I’ve ever been through. I saw a video, that perhaps you also saw, from a news station in another state. It was an interview that had been done with a 10-year-old boy from Oklahoma living in foster care. His name is Jerimiah. That’s the correct spelling. I’ve done my research.

I’ve worked for many years, in many different capacities with children. I’ve been a mental health worker, a case manager for teens, I’ve taught Sunday school classes, VBS, worked in nurseries, been a babysitter, the director of our county family resource center, a teacher’s assistant, a certified teacher, and most importantly… a mother. Other than with my own children, I’ve never felt a stronger connection with a child than I did when I saw and listened to Jerimiah’s story. In an instant, I felt a bond which can only be described as spiritual. In my heart, I knew I wanted to have this boy come live with us. I’d never even given foster care or adoption a second of thought before this. Now, it practically consumed me.

I watched his video several times, as painful as it was for me. He was bright and articulate. He reminded me of children I already loved. He mentioned some of the hard times he was having in his group home, and I knew without a doubt that I had to start moving on this. Immediately. My heart aches for him. I was a little shocked myself at the urgency I felt, but God impressed upon my heart to do something. I had to.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that if I’m passionate about something, I do it 110%. Triple that amount if it’s for children. Perhaps you’ve not heard the story of the time I went to the State of TN Department of Education over an experience I was having with one of Eli’s early classroom experiences at school. I’ll save that for later. You go as far as you have to go when it comes to your kids. We are their protectors. I wanted to find out what I needed to do to help Jerimiah.

I immediately dialed the contact number which was listed below the link to the news clip. I got a voice mail. It was July 5, and I understood that people may be on vacation. This wasn’t going to be good enough for me, though. Patience is not one of my strongest virtues. I really felt a pulling at my heartstrings that time was of the essence for this little boy. I know how bizarre it sounds, but I felt like someone that “belonged” to me was living in Oklahoma, and I needed to get him here as soon as possible. I had a connection to Jerimiah. The tears just flowed, even though I didn’t fully understand why. I just loved him. I had to help him.

So, I put on my detective cap, and not wanting to wait for a returned phone call from the contact number, I contacted the news station which first ran the story. I actually contacted the wrong station with the same call letters, but in another state. An employee there was kind enough to point me in the right direction. I finally reached the bubbly blonde reporter who had interviewed Jerimiah for the piece. I asked her what steps I needed to follow to get information about this child and/or to pursue fostering or adopting him. She immediately responded by giving my a hotline number for Oklahoma Department of Children’s Services. I thanked her and called the number. I was asked to leave a message with my personal info, and was told my call would be returned.

I waited. It was grueling. I cried each time I thought of Jerimiah. Then, I would just begin praying for him. I prayed for protection over this sweet child. I prayed for healing for the difficult things he may have gone through in his life. I prayed that God would place him in a home with people who would love him and treat him kindly. Finally, I selfishly prayed that God would let that home be MY home.

After a few days- all the while I’m still calling the original contact number and leaving messages- I received a call back from Oklahoma DCS. A very nice woman on the other end asks if I’ve inquired about Jerimiah. I said I had. I told her a little about me, and held back tears as I explained that I wanted to make sure he was okay and ended up in a good home. I told her that his story was so moving I was sure they’d had many inquiries about him. She said part of the reason it had taken three days to get back to me was that, at that time, they had over 4,000 calls about this boy. That made me happy, but also a little fearful. I realized it would be a long shot for an out-of-state family to get custody of him. I was certain there were wonderful people with nice homes much closer than mine, but I knew deep down, there was no way they would love him like I already felt I did.

She asked if I had already been through foster parent training in my state, and I told her that I had not. Panic starts to set in. I feel like this set back may put my chances even further behind now. Surely, there were other people inquiring who HAD already been approved for fostering. How long would it take me to get trained and approved? She stated that these things can take months. I’d have to contact my local DCS, get into the parenting classes, participate in a home study, and THEN if I was approved, I could call them back. I think she could sense my disappointment, and told me again to call her back just as soon as I’d met those requirements. I thanked her for her time.

It’s difficult to explain, but in the background of all of this activity of finding and discovering Jerimiah, I knew Jesus was there. He put a drive in me to pursue this, and I couldn’t shake it. This process involved days of waiting on phone calls, and worrying how he was doing in his foster home each day. Some days my heart hurt so badly over this, that I prayed God would take this from me. I feel bad even admitting that. I just wanted the aching to stop. It was excruciating some days. When my own family sat down at the table together to have meals, I felt a little guilt. I wondered what he had eaten that night. I wondered if people in the foster home were being kind to him. I just prayed each time his name crossed my mind. The truth is, it never left it.

It bears mentioning that eventually I did go to my immediate family and closest friends about this. My circle love me. They know I listen to God, but I’m sure they’d all agree that I can be an emotional being at times… most times. Those closest to me listened to me explain, and graciously said that if God had a plan for my life, He would fulfill it. They were supportive, even if honestly deep down they didn’t understand. Jeff was an angel. He didn’t really get it, and I’m sure part of him hoped this would be a passing phase, but he showed me that he loved me in his support of me. That’s all I needed.

The next few weeks involved messages and returned phone calls to local DCS workers and people in Nashville. I wrote Jerimiah a letter during this time after I was given an “in care of” contact address for him by one of the seemingly hundreds of helpful case workers I spoke with on this quest. I bragged to him about what an exceptional young man he was. I talked to him about books he may enjoy, because in his news clip he said he enjoyed reading. I told him that everything he mentioned wanting in a family, MY family could happily provide for him. I closed by telling him that I didn’t know the outcome of all of this, but that I’d pursue everything I had to in order to make clear the way for him to come here if that’s what God planned. Finally, I told him I wanted him to know that there was a woman in Tennessee who was praying for him everyday. I mailed the letter. Truth is, I have no idea if he ever actually received it, but I hope he did. It made me happy feeling like I had some tiny line of connection to him.

Over the next month, I got signed up for foster care classes. A local church was sponsoring a meeting for perspective foster parents one Sunday afternoon. I drove to the location, a place I’d never been, and got out to attend a meeting with people I’d never met. Even on my drive over I was thinking to myself, “What are you doing? You’re a teacher, and children cost money.” Between Jeff and I we have four children already. I just couldn’t let it go. This child in Oklahoma had a need that I could meet, and what kept creeping into my mind was, “so why wouldn’t I meet that need?” I attended the meeting, and told them frankly about my situation. I explained that while I understood fully that there are children in TN who have needs for fostering, it was THIS child that God placed on my heart. I was pursuing this for him. The process was explained in more detail, and I left the meeting with a couple of brochures and peace that I had done what God wanted of me.

As a side note, I should tell you that foster care classes don’t happen every day. There is a schedule and you find the dates/county that works best for you and you attend. They last several weeks, and then you have to participate in a home study. Sometimes people are required to pay for those out of their own pockets, and other times I believe the agency will foot the bill. I was told it could be expensive. I didn’t care. I’d do whatever it took.

Then one day, I decided I wanted to know more about Jerimiah than just what I’d learned from his video clip. I googled foster care in Oklahoma, and was thrilled when I found a website that had a photo gallery of children in Oklahoma who were available for adoption. It was a little heartbreaking because, at the risk of offending and I truly don’t mean to, it reminded me of websites one might go on to select a pet. I love the concept of seeing each of these little ones and reading their biographies, but the reality sitting there looking you right in the face was very painful. Each of these sweet babies need a home. They just want stability and a family to call their own. I felt a hard pressure pressing down on my chest. The tears begin again. How many times do we take for granted all that we have? How many times do we take our children, or our parents, or our homes for granted? Not everyone has that. We should remember, and count our blessings. More importantly, we should pray for those who don’t.

As I narrowed my search by age group, I found him. It was Jerimiah S. I now knew that his last name begins with “S”. It made me smile. Then, I look down and my heart began to sink. Underneath his name, across a banner, are the words, “unavailable”. I had no idea what that meant and I had to know immediately! I email the owner of the video gallery website. He tells me that Jerimiah is currently visiting with a family for potential adoption. I felt the strangest combination of emotions. I was devastated. My Jerimiah was probably going to be going to another family. But I already loved him. How could this be? Why would God have even put this on my heart if this was to be the outcome? My heart shattered into a million pieces. Again, I just began to pray, and God did the most amazing thing…

He humbled me and showed me that my disappointment should instead be rejoicing, because if I truly loved Jerimiah I would want him to be out of that foster home and with a loving family. That was exactly what God had done. It just wasn’t done the way I wanted… in MY home… with MY family. Next, He brought to mind the story of Abraham in Genesis 22, when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham was tormented over this, but was obedient, and followed God’s instruction. At the last moment the Lord sent an angel to stop Abraham from killing his child. I got it now. I understood. I firmly believe that God just wanted to see if I’d be obedient to Him. Would I be willing to do what it took to help Jerimiah in any way that I could? He wanted me, for whatever reason- this woman in Tennessee, to love this boy in Oklahoma, and to cover him in prayer each time his precious name came to mind. I did just that.

I still pray for Jerimiah each time I think of him. I pray for his new family that God will bless them, and keep Jerimiah safe, loved and protected. I’d love to one day in the future have the opportunity to meet this incredible young man. I’d just like to hug him, and tell him that although he has no idea, he has made a tremendous impact on my life. I’ve prayed for him since July 5. I will continue to do so. I will also continue to listen to that sometimes quiet voice of God, even when it hurts my heart just a little.

Click link to view Jerimiah’s story:

“I’ll do anything for them,” Kind 10-year-old wishing for a home, family

 

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