On Mother’s Day, all moms are celebrated: first-time moms, grandmothers, biological moms, step-moms, single moms, foster moms and adoptive moms.
For many foster and adoptive moms, like Southeast Christian Church members Brittany Reynolds and Lynn Willing, Mother’s Day is a day for remembering God’s faithfulness.
Brittany Reynolds always dreamed of being a mom, but fostering to adopt wasn’t her first choice. God showed her that, despite her fear, He would allow her to become a mother to five through foster care and adoption.
When she and her husband, Bennett, started trying for a baby, one negative pregnancy test turned into month after month of disappointment.
“I felt like I was being robbed when a doctor told me I couldn’t get pregnant,” Brittany said. “I felt like it should’ve been our decision. I felt like I was letting Bennett and my family down. This is what my body was made for, but it just wasn’t part of God’s plan for us.”
So in 2012, the Reynoldses started the process of fostering to adopt.
But fear kept Brittany from saying “yes” right away.
“We had done all of the classes, and they got the best of me,” she said. “They try to prepare you for worst-case scenarios, which is so important and helpful, but it terrified me. We were waiting for our home study—the last step—to clear, and I just couldn’t do it. I told Bennett, ‘I’m not strong enough to have a baby in my home for six months and have it taken away from me.’”
The Reynoldses decided to pursue private adoption.
“I’m so thankful that I had those doubts because we were matched almost immediately with a birth mom in Florida,” Brittany said.
Brittany said the birth mother wanted an open adoption, which, again, caused great fear and doubt over what might happen. She and Bennett prayed for God to show them what to do.
“God showed us that an open adoption was going to be the best thing for the baby,” Brittany said. “She can’t have too much love.”
Eighty-nine days from their application, their daughter, Harper, was born and the Reynoldses took her home.
God was able to use Brittany’s relationship with Harper’s birth mom to help her overcome a lot of her fear of fostering to adopt, and in 2017, the Reynoldses decided to give it another try.
Over the last year and a half, they have taken in four foster placements, all under 19 months old. They are hoping to adopt three of their four placements within a year.
“There were moments when we thought we should’ve said ‘no,’” Brittany said. “It made no sense to say ‘yes’ to another baby, but God has always revealed to us through prayer and His Word that saying ‘yes’ is the right thing.”
The Willing family
Lynn Willing and her husband Marty had a 9-year-old daughter, but they felt they had more to give.
“We began noticing in many ways that there were children in need of loving homes, and that’s what we had; we had an empty bedroom and a growing awareness and compassion for those children,” Lynn Willing said. “We began following Christ as adults, and we recognized the difference it would have made in our own lives if we had been raised to know Christ, and we wanted that for our daughter and for other children.”
In 2008, they began fostering to adopt and are now parents to Gracie, 9, and Sebastian, 8.
Lynn said that although it was difficult parenting infants and toddlers after so many years, the joys of parenting outweighed the challenges.
“Some of my greatest joys are both giving and receiving unconditional love, the joy kids get from simple pleasures, light-bulb moments as they learn about life, forgiveness, their laughter and their love for each other,” Lynn said.
Brittany Reynolds said her daughter Harper’s excitement about welcoming new babies into their home is one of her greatest joys.
“Seeing Harper love so easily and seeing her heart softened towards these kids is something that encourages me every day,” she said. “She knows it’s awesome that our family doesn’t look like everyone else’s, and that’s like a badge of honor for us.”
For the Reynoldses, there is both joy and challenges in building relationships with birth moms and not knowing what the future will hold. One of the greatest challenges was having to give back their first placement the first time.
“We don’t know if we’ll get to adopt him or if he’ll be able to stay with her, but regardless of what happens, his birth mom will be part of our life forever,” she said. “She’s family.”
The Reynoldses are passionate about loving the whole family. Brittany tries to build relationships with the birth parents of all the children who come into their care.
“I realized that a lot of these birth families are paying the ultimate price right now,” Brittany said. “Their babies have been taken away, and they know they have made mistakes. It’s not my job to be their judge and jury, but to love them like Jesus loves them.”
Both Lynn and Brittany have held on to their faith in Christ in times of fear and worry.
“Being a mom is very humbling,” Lynn said. “Before I was a mom, I was confident in my abilities and that my determination and hard work made most things possible. God has shown me how little those things can mean. My strength and talents and abilities come from Him alone.”
“There is still fear every day, but I’m so grateful for the reminder that God is always faithful and He is in control,” Brittany said. “His plan is so much better than my own.”
Bennett Reynolds said he has seen tremendous growth in his wife’s faith on their foster and adoptive journey.
“This is like mission work we didn’t even know we would be doing, and throughout it, I’ve seen Brittany change,” Bennett said. “I think having children changes people anyways, but to go about it this way has shown me so much of who God created her to be. She doesn’t have to learn to love these kids. She loves them right off the bat, just like Jesus does.”
Brittany Reynolds said that for foster and adoptive moms, Mother’s Day is a very bittersweet day.
“As a foster or adoptive mom, there’s so much privilege to be able to celebrate it, but your heart is also with the birth mom who isn’t with her child on Mother’s Day,” she said. “I just hope they know that we pray for them daily, we love them and we are wishing them a happy Mother’s Day.”