Some people want to know if Luke and Emma are twins, or if we planned to have three little ones (soon to be four) aged three and under?
We most certainly didn’t, but knowing and seeing first-hand how God puts families together, we know that this was definitely God’s plan for Luke’s life, Emma’s life, as well as the rest of us Barnard’s lives too.
It all started in June 2012.
It was as if a whole world started to open up to us – a dark, sad world that we had never seen before.
Everywhere we looked we saw or heard or read of the state of orphans, abandoned babies and children needing care all around us. It was as if it was highlighted in bold letters where ever we looked. Dan and I started to look around and ask questions as this grew in our hearts, but not knowing where to even start. We tried a number of agencies, spoke to social workers, friends that knew more than we did, but because we were young and had only been married for a few years, the doors weren’t opening for us to get involved in making a difference. For us, making a difference, is one person or little person at a time.
Eventually this was the thing that was totally burning in our hearts, and even though we were nervous to take the leap, and didn’t know how it would happen, we knew that seeking out adoption was the only answer for us.
We trusted that we would find the little person that we felt we loved already, and we finally did!
In June 2013, we got a call from a social worker we had met with, and she referred us to René Testa from Barnswallows in weltevredenpark. We contacted her and she informed us that there was a little boy that had been abandoned in her care that needed parents. We shortened our holiday plans and came home to meet, who would later become our son! After getting all the necessary paperwork sorted out and dealing with the social worker in charge, on the 7th of August 2013, we took our 10 week old baby boy home!
Bonding was different from our experience with our biological child Alea, but it was special and beautiful in its own way. Luke very quickly became a part of the family, creeping into everyone’s heart with his big eyes and sweet heart.
Jumping forward a year, good friends of ours Kent and Charmaine Mcqueen, opened another shelter, namely the first satellite home of Barnswallows, right around the corner from where we live in Northmead, Benoni.
They had seen some very sad situations in the short time they were open; babies being abandoned, starved, and neglected or parents who still wanted to be involved but were addicted to substances.
One terrified little girl (19 months) was placed with them after having suffered starvation, with severe kwashiorkor and neglect. We watched as the process of restoration began to take place in her little body and heart while at the shelter. The problem was that her case wasn’t simple, because although her mom wasn’t fit or able to take care of her, she didn’t want her to be placed with anyone else either.
The way forward for this little girl to totally heal and have her life turned around, was foster care.
We had never really considered foster care, it always seemed to ‘risky’ for us, as you could totally fall in love with a child only to have them ripped from your family down the line. We had Alea and Luke to consider too. How would this affect them?
After giving it a lot of thought, prayer and consideration, we felt that it was worth the risk. That Emma was worth the risk. So on the 30th of September 2014 Emma joined our family.
We are currently in a two year foster process with her.
I would be lying if I said that it was an easy process. There have been all kinds of hiccups and challenges along the way, but if I look at all the improvement and healing that Emma has undergone since she was placed with Barnswallows, and then with us until now, I am absolutely amazed!
She learnt to walk at 20 months. She learnt to climb, to feed herself, is now potty trained. Above and beyond that, she is learning to trust, to laugh and to play with other children. She is learning to receive love and how to love.
Now, at the age of 2 and a half years old, there is a long road ahead for her as she starts speech therapy and still has emotional setbacks, but that is part of what’s needed for her to be made whole. She has come so far and will go even further.
Alea, Luke and Emma absolutely love one another. They are siblings.As another baby joins the mix in October, we are totally convinced that God places families together and puts the lonely into family, Psalm 68:6.
It doesn’t matter what our backgrounds are, or what the world has dealt us, there is hope. Hope in God.