Navigating a double stroller with two babies plus three older children may seem crazy hard.
Cindy Zilich doesn’t see it that way.
“I’m living the dream. I’m in heaven,” she said.
A young mom with three biological children plus two foster children, she spends her days loving and caring for little ones.
Cindy and her husband Nick hope to adopt the two foster children in their home right now, but they live each day knowing there are no guarantees.
“We don’t know what tomorrow brings,” Cindy said. “We don’t know how long we’re going to have them. We appreciate every diaper, every runny nose, every chance we get to comfort and love on them.”
As Cindy cleaned up after one of the children vomited, Nick smiled and said, “We’re living the dream.”
It is a journey the Zilichs never saw coming. That may be what makes it so amazing.
Two years ago, family life at the Zilichs was packed, fun and manageable. Church. Ballgames. Sunday afternoons with their large, extended family. Watching their children—now 5, 8 and 9—grow and learn at school and home.
The Zilichs felt content until a Sunday morning worship service at Southeast Christian Church in 2016.
It was Orphan Sunday, and the theme was “Wait No More.” The bulletin highlighted the nearly 10,000 children in foster care in Kentucky.
Those children broke Cindy’s heart.
She nudged Nick and pointed to the bulletin. He shook his head. She closed it. End of story—or so they thought.
“Life was manageable,” Nick said. “I was thankful for that every day. We always said if someone called us about taking a child, we’d say ‘yes.’ Yet I never thought about God calling.”
Thinking they could support another foster family or help in some way, the Zilichs attended a two-day conference on foster care and adoption. Nothing there spoke to them.
“We figured we dodged a bullet yet again,” said Cindy, who has a master’s degree in early childhood education. “At the same time, I couldn’t stop thinking about caring for children without families.”
The Zilichs talked with a family who fostered children. When that family left, they both said, “No way.”
The next night, they talked with friends who adopted privately. Again, they said “no way.” The Zilichs didn’t have the financial means to make that happen.
But God was not done with them yet.
The next Sunday, a sentence in the sermon about being too comfortable stuck with Nick. He asked himself some difficult questions: Can I love a foster child as much as I love my own children? Do I need to protect my own family from disruption? What if we go all in and that child is returned to a mom or dad?
He had no answers.
The truth is, children land in the foster-care system because of abuse, neglect or a parent being incarcerated. Addiction is the biggest contributing factor. Once a child enters the system, they will sometimes stay in limbo for months or even years.
It takes an average of three years for a child to be adopted in Kentucky.
For the next month, every morning devotion Cindy read talked about the dangers of living a safe life. Walls to foster care and adoption crumbled on Dec. 9, 2016, when she read a devotion with the children about caring for the fatherless. She heard the message loud and clear.
“I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk,” Cindy said. “I asked the kids how they would feel if taking in children became their family mission.”
Their immediate response: “Let’s do it.”
Cindy called Nick at work. “I think we’re supposed to do this,” she told him.
“We were still scared to death, but I knew it was what we were supposed to do,” Cindy said.
The Zilichs signed up for foster care and adoption classes Jan. 2, 2017.
The phone rang three hours after they were approved on Sept. 29. A 3-day-old baby girl needed a family. Cindy said “yes,” and the adventure began.
“I knew she could go home tomorrow, so my job was to love her that day,” Cindy said.
Cindy prayed for the baby’s birth mom, that she would get well and have peace knowing her baby is loved.
And she is—by every single member of the family, including grandparents on both sides. A second baby came to live with the Zilichs a few months ago. They hope to adopt him as well.
And Nick’s questions?
He has the answers now.
He loves foster children like his own. They bring joy to the family—not disruption. Though the Zilichs hope to adopt both children, they love a day at a time.