‘I choked back tears when Travon told me, ‘You’re my big sister now!’ My earth shattered. These 3 brothers were home. It was all in front of me.’

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“I had to choke back tears when Travon told me, ‘You’re my big sister now!’ The expression on his face was priceless and hearing those words forged an earth-shattering moment for me: Travon was home. Travon is the oldest of three of my now adopted brothers, and from the second our paths had crossed, they brought light to my whole world and I couldn’t imagine life without them.

Courtesy of Jordan Garrard

We had fostered Travon and his brothers Terrance and Tre for a little more than a year at this point, but prior to them entering our lives, our family had fostered two other children. November 2015, my mom was married to Bryce and all of her biological children (including myself) had all grown up and moved out of the nest. Both my mom and Bryce knew having children from troubled circumstances would be in their future because they had both seen the heartbreak overseas and in their own community. At the time, our pastor and his wife had recently adopted out of the foster care system, but they had gone into it knowing they wanted to adopt. This is not how my parents felt. As they spoke about and discussed waiting a few years and having some time together as a married couple without children, God placed foster care and the needs of so many in the area right in front of them.

Courtesy of Jordan Garrard

Our family could not go anywhere without foster care being talked about, lived out by others, or blatantly advertised as an issue that demands attention. My parents came to the realization the days of weekly trips to high school ball games were almost over, and the memories of guiding my siblings and me to adulthood were soon to become just that: memories. They had a gut feeling there was a need they could fill, but were hesitant to start the process because of the fear of the unknown. My mom and Bryce are far from fearful and it didn’t sit well with them this was preventing them, so they took action. They reached out to brother, sister and me for our prayers and permission to move forward as they felt it should be a family decision. It didn’t take much convincing, everyone was immediately on board with taking this opportunity to change lives for the better, and so the process began.

Courtesy of Jordan Garrard

We were not strangers to the fostering process. Before Travon and his two brothers were introduced to our lives, we had fostered two other children. They were two blessings, a 2-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl. This was our first placement as a foster family, and the second they came to our house they immediately felt like family. We had been in talks about adoption for them as well and could not imagine them not being around anymore.  A few months later, around the middle of December, adoption was still in the air, we had all grown closer together, but in the back of our minds lingered the fact the arrangement still carried an unofficial status. No one was ready to accept the possibility of having spent so much time with these two amazing children, for them to depart from us. It being the holiday season as well, this was a joyous moment for me and my family. The Christmas spirit was in the air and the warm energy from the kids made every moment special, like this was how it was all supposed to be.

The day my mom and Bryce went to court with the kids, they found out the state’s attorney had changed what they were asking from the judge, and the children would be returned to their family within a few weeks, the exact day unknown. ‘Are you sure this can’t be changed? Is there something or someone that can change this?,’ my siblings and I all responded with the same shock and sadness.

‘We have prayed that God would be in control and we have to believe He still is,’ my mom responded. We had been asked if we were ready to adopt so many times while fostering them, it was hard to believe the sudden change. There was nothing we could do. Our opinion and love did not matter at that point.

On December 19, the siblings were returned to their biological family. Just like that, they were gone. The day they left, I had to drive back home for work like any other day, but it wasn’t a normal drive. I was fighting back tears the whole way, hoping and praying the best for these kids’ futures. I knew we would be able to give them a loving home, and being the oldest of my siblings, I have a natural inclination to be a protector. Having shared a bond and creating memories with them made me want to wrap my arms around them and keep them close forever, but you can’t wrap your arms around a memory.

The holidays eventually passed, but the loss of the kids hovered over our heads weighing heavily on our hearts and minds. We couldn’t help but wonder what our lives would have been if they had stayed, but every update we got about them seemed so positive and every day became a little easier knowing this was God’s plan.

Courtesy of Jordan Garrard

On January 12, we got a call for three brothers – ages one, three, and four. It was a Friday when my mom received the call. It was a quick conversation before she immediately texted us asking for our prayer and approval once more. Again, we all said yes. The 1-year-old was in a good foster home, but the other two had been in a children’s home since removal, in November 2017, and the time they could stay at the home had passed. She made phone calls to make sure we could find day care for them in our small town and luckily a private pre-school said yes after a little begging and understanding of the situation. After sorting all the details out, mom called back the case worker to tell her, ‘We will take them!’ She headed to Walmart to get everything a 3 and 4-year-old boy might need. By the time she got home, the case worker called back. ‘Is tomorrow morning ok?,’ she asked. With the realization they were coming, mom sent out another group message to our family and friends asking for prayers for the two sweet boys that would soon join us.

We took down the baby bed and put up a toddler bed, took down everything left from our sweet girl and turned the room into something fit for two kings. We then sat, prayed, and waited. We soon found ourselves in a position to foster the two oldest, and we could also take the youngest for weekends. But we had been told at placement these boys would also be returned to their biological parents and that their mother was going through great lengths for her boys to be with her again. Having just come from a similar experience, we thought we could handle our hearts and manage our feelings of attachment to these boys differently, but within hours, we were all right back to loving and caring for children we had just met.

Courtesy of Jordan Garrard
Courtesy of Jordan Garrard

They had come to us unsure about foster parents because older boys in the children’s home had told them, ‘There’s a chance your new family could be mean, and maybe they’ll yell at you when they’re mad.’ Our 4-year-old at the time said one night as my mom tucked him in, ‘I’m glad you are not mean and never get mad. I was scared of foster parents, but not you. You never scream or cuss.’ After hugging his sweet neck, she told him, ‘I have gotten mad at times, but I would never yell or cuss at you or anyone else because that is not how God treats me when I disappoint him.’

Courtesy of Jordan Garrard

Once summer had arrived and the possibility of adoption seemed a nearer, we had all grown so attached to Tre that my parents decided to make the call to CPS to make a permanent arrangement to join his brothers. It all worked out and within weeks of my brother graduating high school, we were also celebrating a second birthday for the newest member of our household.

Courtesy of Jordan Garrard
Courtesy of Jordan Garrard

In October, we were all optimistic of the future, hoping adoption would be the end result. But circumstances had shifted and it became questionable whether our boys would be returned to their biological families or remain with us. As we had the entire time, we assured them someone would be making the best decision for their future and we would all pray thanking God for family, both foster and biological. The fear of heartbreak and the unknown left all of us heavy-hearted and uncertain of what to expect. We wanted them to know how much we loved them. Some time passed and it was finally all was clear for us to adopt! It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of our backs. We would finally have them permanently a part of our lives! I will never forget the feeling of excitement that washed over me and our entire family. At this time, it had been a few weeks since my siblings and I, as well as our soon-to-be new brothers were in the same house together, but at this point we all finally had the chance to let reality set in and feel united as a family.

Photo by Sherry Reynolds
Photo by Sherry Reynolds

Initially, I had convinced myself I wouldn’t let my heart get so attached knowing the possibility of them being placed back with their biological family at any time. However, I think God was preparing our hearts for something far better than we could have imagined. We fostered them for almost a year, and at the end of October, all parental rights were removed and we would start the process of adoption after a 90-day probation period. This time allowed biological family members a chance to petition for an appeal. Some moments were like déjà vu, but I was prepared for anything to happen and hoped for the best for their futures, whether or not we would be involved. After standing on ice for the probation period, the time had finally passed and all was clear for us to adopt! They were ours to love and cherish forever. My mother would be a mom of six, and I would have three younger brothers.

Molly Beth Schiwart at Molly Beth Photography

The official moments of adoption were surreal. We arrived at the courthouse early to get settled and see to it that all affairs were in order. At first, it was just me and my immediate family present, but more and more family members and close friends began to trickle in. They had all walked with us during our fostering experience and developed memories of their own with the boys and unconditionally supported and loved them as a part of the family. In total, there ended up being just short of 100 people in attendance and it turned the entire day into a celebration of a new chapter. The boys were so well dressed and happy and the looming tension in the air of us losing them was terminated from existence.

Molly Beth Schiwart at Molly Beth Photography

Amidst all of the excitement, Travon turned to me and sweetly exclaimed, ‘You’re my big sister now!’ At that moment, my earth shattered. It was all in front of me. My parents had conceived me at a very young age. They were kids having kids, still figuring out the world as well as themselves, but the circumstances didn’t hinder my childhood the least bit. They went above and beyond to make sure I had everything I needed to be successful, and looking back on it now that I am much older, I am truly marveled by the tremendous lengths they went through to shower me with love and raise me the way they did. Knowing that Trevon, Terrance, and Tre would now be showered with that same unconditional love and support brought me a different sense of peace. We are making a change for the better for their lives as well as ours. There are many children born into difficult situations and troubling circumstances. We all share the same Earth and I feel it is our duty to look out for each other and do what we can to improve the lives of others. We would foster any and every child in need if it were possible, but we are able to give these boys a place flooded with love, where they can grow into the extraordinary men they are destined to become. A safe, secure, and sacred place to learn from one another, lean on each other, and grow together. That place is home.

Molly Beth Schiwart at Molly Beth Photography

The magic from that day never lost its spark. Not being home as often as I once was, every time I return and reunite with the family I feel as though there’s a spell cast around me. The boys have so much joy, appreciation, and so much incredible energy you can’t help but soak it in. The boys have taken a fond liking towards sports, particularly baseball, and most days you can find them outside with Bryce or my brother Brysan knocking the ball around, and although they’re relatively young, they’re eager to learn and get better every time they’re out there. We surprised the boys with customized football jerseys with their new last names on the back and naturally, we had to capture it with a barrage of family photographs. With the boys being young, I’m not too sure if they were able to grasp the gravity of the moment with the shirts resembling that we are now an official family unit. I was surprised their reactions were so carefree, but in their eyes, they were already a part of our family, and the names on the jersey were already apart of them. The boys were home.”

Photo by Sherry Reynolds
Molly Beth Schiwart at Molly Beth Photography
Molly Beth Schiwart at Molly Beth Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jordan Garrard of Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more beautiful adoption stories:

‘Oh my Gosh, she’s a baby. ‘I’m saying yes,’ I typed to him in Afghanistan. ‘Say yes,’ he responded simultaneously. ‘We’ll take her!’ I nearly shouted into the phone.’

‘Why do you want to adopt Shiloh?,’ the judge asked us. I’ll never forget what my husband said. ‘It’s the paperwork catching up to hearts. She IS our daughter,’ he responded.’

‘Momma, can you please call the judge? He’s moving too slow. Does he know I need you to be my momma? I’ll tell him. I need to be adopted. I can’t wait anymore.’ My boys waited 3 long years.’

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