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Depression as a Foster and Adoptive Parent

By May 25, 2020Blog

Sometimes people ask me, “How do you do it all?”

The easy answer is this: “I DON’T!”

In 2010, our lives turned upside down. After a couple of years of heartbreak and struggle, we joyously welcomed in 2 little boys who needed a foster home.

5 1/2 months after that, their 2-year-old sister joined our clan.

We doubled our family in less than 6 months.

We also moved to a new house in the middle of all that, and I got my wisdom teeth out!

Lovely, I know.

When our sweet girl joined our family, we also found out that she had head lice.

I almost lost it.

To this day, I can still feel the fear I experienced. I remember walking back and forth from my basement laundry room and back upstairs, just crying out to God, “I can’t do this…”

It was more than lice. Lice are horrible, but the dark place I began to go during this inconvenience was concerning. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I wanted life to go back to normal, and I wondered why we started fostering in the first place. It was just too hard. I felt exposed and vulnerable.

Not long after being lice-free, one of our little ones got a staph infection—something I had never experienced before. Then I got one. And then another child. And that familiar blanket of fear and anxiety felt heavier than before. “I don’t want to do this…”

I remember looking out the window at the kids playing, and I felt nothing but tired and overwhelmed. My husband would come home from work where he would often find me on the couch or actually shaking from the NEED to get away and sleep.

To be clear, most of my friends probably didn’t even realize the struggle I was facing because it wasn’t like I was constantly down or blue. When I was with people, I often felt okay, but when alone with the children or in the nighttime, life grew darker.

With the support and encouragement of my husband, I spoke with my doctor. When she told me I was struggling with mild depression and anxiety, I cried! The very word “depression” made me feel more vulnerable and weak—weaker than I was “supposed” to be. I was scared. When she mentioned medication as one of my possible options, I cried again.

I wondered if it was “okay” to take medication. I thought that if I considered it, I would NOT be depending on the Lord. I worried about what others might think. I didn’t want to be someone who NEEDED medicine.

And yet.

I needed help. I was in a place that I wasn’t able to pull myself back up. I also began to feel His gentle voice saying. “This is my provision for you. Don’t be afraid. Be thankful and accept help.”

I worried that I would be fake or happy all the time and never feel down or blue, and I wanted nothing to do with that, but that has not been the case at all.

With medication, I simply felt like: “I’m back.”

The weight of that blanket of fear and anxiety has lightened, and I began to find joy in the things that I had found joy in before facing depression. As I was driving the kids to school, I broke out with: “Kids, let’s thank Jesus for this beautiful day!”

It was in this that I knew I was back.

I still feel all kinds of emotions. I still get down, angry, and frustrated. I need Jesus. He is my everything. I feel like I am more able to connect with Him now that I can see more clearly. I truly believe that for me, medication has been His gift.

I know there are a variety of strong feelings surrounding this issue, and I’m not pushing medication for everyone. I’m actually not pushing it at all. I want you to know that if you’re experiencing something similar, you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to tell a friend and get help in the way God leads you.

Life is not easy. Stepping out of our comfort zones does require sacrifice, but I will say this LOUD AND CLEAR, I would do it all over again. Though painful and difficult at times, our foster care journey has also been one of the greatest, greatest gifts in my life. God will provide. Whatever He calls you to do, He will provide.

Just because it is hard doesn’t make it wrong. Often the hardest things bring about the greatest blessings. Praise God He never, ever, ever leaves us.

How have you seen the Lord create beauty from ashes in your life? Let us know in the comments below!

Jami Kaeb

Adoption, foster care, and advocacy were not part of Jami’s dreams for her life, but God changed her heart when He made her aware, and she is passionate about helping others become aware too! She and her husband Clint are parents to their seven children (five through adoption).

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