Jordan’s visions of adoption started out as what he calls “naïve aspirations” of raising a black kid from Africa. “That idea was all about me,” he now realizes. When he and Amber married, they both desired to adopt, but quickly realized that the $30,000 price tag of international adoption was beyond their reach. Unlike many, the Halls didn’t let that obstacle dissuade them from pursuing their dream of adopting a child.
By the time they attended the San Diego County class for potential foster parents, Jordan and Amber saw the dramatic need right in their own community. In San Diego County alone, 3,500 children are in foster care, with about 50 awaiting permanent adoption at any given time. “The class really dispelled a lot of the pre-conceived notions we had about foster parenting,” said Amber. “It’s easy to think that people just do it for the money – there’s still kind of a stigma.” The class also illuminated the darkness of the broken families around them. “We knew foster kids had baggage,” remembers Jordan, “but we learned about attachment issues, and sexual abuse, and kids being burned by cigarettes and breaking 27 bones – it was really horrific.”
More than 90 percent of potential foster and adoptive parents drop out of the process once they’ve begun, but Jordan and Amber weren’t deterred. They did realize, though, that fostering and adopting one of these children was not about them – it was about meeting the radical needs of an abandoned and traumatized child. “You have to be willing to change in order for God to use you,” said Jordan. The gospel truth that God had intervened on their behalf when they were in need of rescue informed every step of their journey. “A decision to bring a baby into your family from this background is really a step of faith,” explains Amber, “you don’t know what the future holds for this baby or your family.”
Despite completing all the licensing requirements through the County, Jordan and Amber waited a full year before they received a call about a child. Little did they know that at the exact moment they attended a class to keep their license updated for a second year, a baby was born in San Diego that would soon become a part of their family. As Justin and Amber were educated in their class, “Risk Factors for Drug Addicted Children,” baby Ellie was shaking uncontrollably in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). She received methadone to help her withdraw from the heroin that had ravaged her developing body.
When they received “the” phone call, Amber was pregnant, their older son was 18 months old and Jordan’s daughter from his previous marriage was six. The social worker told them a baby was available for them – a heroin addicted infant who desperately needed a foster family. That’s when they faced perhaps the most daunting obstacle: fear. “There’s a tendency to want to wait for ‘the perfect baby,’” said Amber. Ellie certainly wasn’t “the perfect baby.” In fact, she had been rejected by all the other approved foster families currently in the system. The Halls quickly concluded that there’s no perfect baby except the one God has chosen for your family. They immediately rushed to the NICU to visit Ellie.
The long journey forward
“The nurses in the NICU were shocked that a foster family would show up for an abandoned, drug-addicted baby,” remembers Amber. But little did either of them know that two years later they would show up again for another abandoned, drug addicted baby: Ellie’s sibling, Olivia. Despite being pregnant again and caring for four other children, Amber just couldn’t envision turning away Ellie’s sister. “All I could think of was, ‘what will happen if I say no?’”
The Hall’s journey continues to be riddled with obstacles. Ellie, whose adoption is finalized, was recently diagnosed with autism. The financial, emotional, and relational stresses of caring for six children, five of whom are five and under, feels overwhelming. “Recently, someone knocked on our door thinking that we might have a day care in our apartment,” laughs Jordan. But the Halls have something better – a compelling and beautiful portrait of what God’s family looks like.
If you would like to help Hope for San Diego provide care and support to the Halls and other families like them, please give today.