‘She’s White. Is That Okay?’ Without Hesitating, My Husband Said, ‘She Needs A Home. Her Race Isn’t Relevant.’: Foster Parents Adopt 3 Children In 7 Months, ‘Families Don’t Have To Match’

Story by Tierra and Patrick Hamm

When I was a little girl, the one thing I knew for sure was that I always wanted to be a mom. My mother died when I was 5 years old and the few memories I have of her shaped me to be the mother I am today.

I met my husband, Patrick, In 2006 at 18 years old and we married very quickly. We knew since the beginning that we wanted to start a family right away. Patrick and I wanted a big family. I come from a pretty big family, I am one of six and my husband is an only child.

In 2009 we started to take things a little bit more serious about growing our family. I did everything from taking my temperature, to drinking pineapple juice during my fertile window. After seeing the negative pregnancy tests so many times, I thought for sure God was telling me that being a mom was not in my cards.

We took a long break from 2011-2015. We weren’t trying, but we were not preventing. During that time, we moved from Washington, to Florida, back to Washington, then to Arizona where we stayed for about 2 years. In 2015 we moved back to Washington and we hit the ground running with trying for a baby again. We started to see a specialist and at the time we did 3 rounds of IUI which all failed.

A friend of mine who has a foster mom reached out to me a couple of times because she wanted to talk to me about fostering. Patrick and I always talked about adopting but we thought it was something that would never happen. My husband grew up in a home where his aunt was a foster parent, so he knew a little bit about foster care.

I declined speaking to my friend a few times because I was scared to open that door to fostering. Like a lot of people we were uneducated about how the foster care system worked. About 6 months passed and she reached out to me again. She explained to me what our state needs good foster homes that children are literally sleeping in hotel rooms.

By the end of the conversation I was 100 percent onboard with pursuing foster care. I just had to convince Patrick. We met again, this time with her husband. Patrick was able to get a male perspective about foster care. We prayed and together we decided to sign up for the foster care training.

In January of 2017 started training and we were officially licensed in June of 2017. Our family was so supportive of our decision to foster, they knew how long we prayed about having children so they could not wait for us to help the community.

On July 12th we received a call from the placement desk. I was at work and I ended up missing the call. I called my husband immediately and said. “They have a placement for us, call them back now!” They explained to him that they have a sweet little 15 month old who is needing to be moved from the current home she was in. The foster mom was going back to school and she only took short term emergency placements. They told us that she is very shy and has attachment “issues”. Then she went on to say, “She is white, is that okay?” And without hesitating my husband said “She needs a home right? Her race is not relevant.”

Within the hour we were given the number to her foster mom and we made arrangements to have her bring her to our house the next day. We were so nervous and we thought it was so odd that the exchange would happened between us, with no social worker involved. The next day when she walked in, we saw a scared little girl who didn’t understand why she had to be uprooted from her then placement. She cried for what seemed like 24 hours. She would not let me put her down. I remember at the end of the the night I was so emotionally drained. I almost thought I made a mistake by taking her in. I thought to myself “What the heck did we just do?”

It was such a scary time. Then one day Felicity started calling us “Mommy” and “Daddy” all on her own. At that moment I knew that we made the right decision. From the beginning we knew that reunification was always the plan. Her tummy mommy showed up and we were so proud of the work she was doing for her kids. She would ride the bus to each visit toting a crockpot so her kids could have a home cooked meal at each visit. Until one day it all stopped.

We were about a year in to the case and she just stopped. Of course we don’t know the ins and outs of her side of the case, but I truly believe she lost hope. She saw her kids bonding and attaching to the families they were with and I believe that she didn’t want to take the kids from that. About 6 months before she became legally free, Felicity’s mom really started working her case and fought a good fight. We were 3 days before this case was supposed to go to trial when she finally signed away her rights. That was the most bittersweet feeling. To know that a mother loved her kids so much that she is willing to sign that part of her life away and I am forever grateful for her.

Nine months after Felicity was placed with us we expanded our license to welcome another kiddo into our home. On February 9th 2018 I got a call from our placement help desk. He said “So, you and Patrick are open to taking infants right?” I said, “Absolutely” he then responded “How would you like to take in a 5 day old? He is in the hospital right now because he is premature but he will be ready to go home in a couple of days” I said “Oh my gosh, yes!!” He went on to tell me that he will get the placement work drafted and that I should have it in my email soon. It was so hard for me to concentrate on work.

About an hour after he called, he called me back and said “Hey, I just wanted to give you a little update. They baby was born severely drug exposed, he is on a feeding tube and may need oxygen. He will need to stay in the hospital for about a week, Are you guys still wanting to take placement?” I said “of course, when can we see him?”

By the weekend my husband and I were in the hospital visiting him. We took turns going to the the NICU for feeding and cares. We almost lost him though. My husband was visiting him and stopped breathing. Patrick was a champion and used his CPR skills to get him breathing again. That’s one incident that my husband still cannot talk about. Samuel was in the NICU for 32 days and was discharged a few days before his actual due date. He came home completely off of oxygen and the feeding tube.

In the beginning he did have issues with gaining weight but we were able to plump him up. Now he is a very active two year old, who loves his mama to pieces. About 7 weeks after Samuel came home, His tummy mommy sent me a message saying that she was 7 weeks pregnant, that she wanted us to hear it from her first. I have a really good relationship with Mommy A. We knew that the baby would be coming into care and we prayed that he would be able to be placed with his brother. So, I truly had 9 months to prepare for a new baby.

On December 19th, 2018 Judah was born. Of course that wasn’t his name she gave him. She sent me a picture and sad “he is finally here!” The moment I saw his picture I fell in love. He was almost placed with another family. But we fought so hard for him. 7 days later he was home with us. So within a year and a half I became a mom to 3 kids all under 2 years old. The boys are 10 months and 15 days apart. I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.

I am so blessed to hav such an open relationship with our tummy mommies. There isn’t a moment that goes by where I am not thanking them for their sacrifice. On January 31, 2020 Felicity and Samuel were adopted. We held out as long as we could because we wanted to adopt all 3 of them at the same time. But it didn’t work out that way. On July 2, 2020 Judah was officially adopted. As someone who is infertile, I never thought I would ever be a mother and I never thought I could love as hard as I do.

Our skin may not match, but you cannot tell me or my kids that we aren’t a family. We live in a predominately white community and we have not faced any hardships or racism which I am so thankful for. Families do not have to match. As our kids get older we are discussing race/color more and more. The kids know that our skin is different but it doesn’t matter to them. Though I said we haven’t faced in racism, we do get the stares, Especially when the kids are yelling “mommy and daddy”.

Our foster care journey is so unique. Felicity, Sam and Judah were our first three placements. We had a few short term/weekend placements. But these three never left. It is so rare to adopt so quickly. I know people who have fostered many children for many years and never adopt. I am so thankful for our journey. When we started we just wanted to love on these kids for however long they were with us. Adoption, was secondary.

We don’t know what foster care looks like for us in the future. Right now, we are just going with the flow as a family of 5 well, 6 for now. Patrick and I love sharing our story and foster so much we have decided to start a podcast. We are still figuring out the details, but we are excited to share our passion and transracial adoption. Families like ours are rare, but we are out there and we do exist. 

You can follow their journey on: Facebook and Instagram

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