Teenagers look forward to their 21st birthdays for a variety of reasons, including the ability to drink alcohol legally and gain another step towards freedom and independence. But for Rachel Marie, turning 21 meant she would get the opportunity to change countless lives. It meant that after years of great anticipation, Rachel would finally be able to apply to be a foster mom.
On the day she turned 21, Rachel was able to achieve her dream when she officially became the youngest foster mother ever licensed in Hennepin County, Minnesota. That same day, she received a call to foster a newborn baby boy who had been born addicted to cocaine.
“Within hours, I was on my way to the hospital to pick up this baby who I had very little information about,” Rachel wrote in a Facebook post. “I was asked to take the place of this little guys mom for an indefinite period of time. As with all foster kids, I wasn’t sure if I would get the chance to fall in love with him for only a few days or if he would be with me for many years. I wasn’t sure if he would scream and shake all night as the drug left his little body or if he would miraculously pull through with no detox symptoms. I was called to love him and that was it.”
Rachel was there with her first foster child for his first doctor appointments. She was the one who was there to feed him when he woke up hungry during the night. And as she would hold him, she would cry over the miracle in her arms, feeling blessed to have been chosen to love him. And then, when it was time, that little baby boy went back to his birth mother.
“[…] it felt like I lost a piece of my heart,” she wrote. “I realized very quickly that this wouldn’t be an easy journey and that none of it would be about me, it was all about the kids.”
Within days of saying goodbye to her first foster baby, Rachel received a call about another child, which was followed by more, nearly one a day. Rachel writes that half of the children she fosters will become available for adoption and the other half will return to life with their birth parents. Rachel will be given the chance to adopt any of her foster children who are placed for adoption.
“Every child’s story that I have heard is heartbreaking. I have no doubt that if people could hear these stories, there would not be a child without a family tonight. Every child that I have met has had the potential to live a beautiful life if they are JUST given the opportunity,” explained Rachel.
Rachel says that while it’s hard to give up the children she loves so much, the blessing of having them for a short period of time trumps any of her sadness. She helps to give them a safe, loving home for as long as necessary.
She shared her story on Facebook in the hopes of inspiring other people to consider foster care, and adoption through foster care. She knows that she can stay right in her own town to help children. She wants others to realize the same thing, and she has invited anyone who is interested in becoming a foster parent to contact her.
There was such a huge response to Rachel’s plea for help that she has started a website called Foster 21 to allow people to learn more about how to care for children who are in need of loving foster and adoptive homes.