Forever family is covered in God’s fingerprints
November 2020 · Foster Family Features
Their story begins a mere three years ago, or eight, if you consider how long Shiyrah and Shadow spent trying locked door after locked door. When they finally found the one that opened, they discovered God’s fingerprints all over it. This month, the six of them formally become one, a Williams family on paper as well as in their hearts.
“When we were going through the classes to be foster parents, our trainer said parents usually don’t end up adopting the first kids they foster,” says Shadow. “She said that would be a Cinderella kind of situation. Well, these are the only kids we’ve fostered. The slipper fit.”
The Kansas couple tried for years to have biological children, investigating methods and procedures designed to help them overcome their infertility. As is their habit, they prayed about it, asking God to guide them to the proper path. They had no doubt they were called to parenthood. They just weren’t sure how to get there.
Their thoughts eventually turned to foster care. Shadow seemed to be hearing about it everywhere – on television and the radio, in fragments of conversations, in the stories of friends. They wondered if God was speaking to them. So, they took a deep breath, signed up for training, and became licensed.
“Axel and Aldin were our first two placements,” says Shadow. “We were in no way prepared for a 3-year-old and an 8-month-old. Training is one thing, but now we’re talking real life. I’d never given a child a bath before, or changed an actual diaper.”
For eight years, it had been just the two of them, and the couple had their own way of doing things. If they were going to make this work, they would need to make some adjustments. Some of those adjustments included expectations.
“To be honest, I had romanticized the idea of parenthood,” says Shiyrah. “I thought it was about kissing them on the forehead and saying goodnight and sending them off to bed. But, that’s not reality. It’s asking them to get back in bed four to five times a night and agreeing to tell just one more story. We didn’t sleep for three months right out of the gate. It took us a while to get our feet under us.”
They received welcome assistance from the boys’ grandparents, who helped them identify their weaknesses, and from their circle of family and friends who provided support and encouragement. After about 18 months, they began to feel like they were finally getting a handle on the whole parenting thing. Then, they started thinking about Abrie, the boys’ older sister. She’d visited their home several times, for birthdays and holidays. The bond between the siblings was strong, and it began to feel increasingly wrong to Shadow and Shiyrah that she should remain apart from her brothers. So, they prayed, and despite their self-doubts about caring for yet another small child, they welcomed Abrie to the family.
“We were a family of five, and we were happy with that,” says Shiyrah. “We were feeling good, we had the perfect number of rooms. Life was great. Then, a month after Abrie arrived, we got word that the children had another a little sibling on the way. We thought, ‘Nope, we can’t do it; we’re full up.’”
So, they prayed – and God gave an answer.
“Once we decided, there was no going back, we burned the ships,” says Shiyrah. “We were now a family of six, so we began preparing to bring Lexi into our home, which included an entire renovation to add another bedroom.”
In fewer than three years, Shiyrah and Shadow had grown to become a family with four children, all under the age of eight. Thrilled and scared, the couple had to learn an entirely new dimension of parenting on the fly. There would be no easing into it. Fortunately, as Shiyrah says, kids are excellent teachers.
“But, I did tell her to stop praying for more kids,” says Shadow, smiling. “We’re definitely good now.”
He still laughs about the time he had to hose down Axel’s sheets in the back yard. The little guy had gotten sick on his bed moments before the family was to leave for somewhere. Never had Shadow imagined himself doing anything like that. But, he reminded himself, “this is parenthood.”
There were also special moments.
“Our years of infertility were a struggle, and I remember (during a particularly hard time) I ended up writing a letter to ‘my future child,’” says Shiyrah. “Years later, Axel was looking at a book on the floor when he pulled out a letter. ‘What’s this, Mommy,’ he asked. I said, ‘Oh, buddy, that’s a letter I wrote to you before I knew you.’ So, I was reading the letter to him and noticed the date I’d written in the corner. It was the same month and year he was born. That was such a beautiful thing to me.”
As their family bonded, Shiyrah and Shadow grew more comfortable in their roles as new parents of four young children. Shiyrah says their journey began with precious moments and challenging days, and somewhere along the way it flipped – to precious days and challenging moments. Shadow still marvels how some days can be so long, but the weeks go by so fast.
No doubt about it, they are a family, and this National Adoption Day they will make it official. On November 21, Abrie, 8; Axel, 5; Aldin, 3; and Lexi, 10 months, will become Williamses. Shiyrah and Shadow love their children, and they love being parents. It is, after all, what they have always felt called to do.
“I was telling a friend recently that we went through so much change so fast,” says Shiyrah. “In less than three years, we went from having no children at all to becoming a family of six. It took us a while to get to this point. It’s like … have you ever picked up laundry from the dryer and you don’t have a basket? You’re trying to hold it all in your hands, while you get it to the couch, or wherever you’re going to fold it, and it all just keeps falling out of your hands as you’re trying to pick it up … That’s how felt the first several months of parenting. Now, I feel like we’ve hit our stride, like we finally have the laundry basket.”