Julie hurries into the coffee shop cradling the cutest brown-eyed, curly headed baby girl. Little Sophie spies her daddy walk in, and grins at the rare chance to see him in the middle of a work day. Bryan, a project manager for Oklahoma City, has a look of equal delight in his eyes as he reaches to take her.
Nine-month-old Sophie is the youngest of Bryan and Julie Haskins’ four adopted children. Theirs is a story of God transforming hearts to create the family He desired them to have. Julie, a stay at home mom, admits that they began the process by planning to adopt the “all American family.”
Bryan was more open to the idea of fostering, but fear made Julie reluctant. The Holy Spirit began to work on her heart to assure her that they could love for a given amount of time and have an opportunity to influence children in need. She told God, “I have no idea how this is going to play out, but I give it all to you.” It was at this point that she felt His peace, and in November 2009, they completed the necessary paperwork to foster through the Department of Human Services (DHS).
The growing family began when they got a call from DHS the next January about a baby girl who was born three months prematurely. Although the couple had only planned to foster, the social worker explained that the baby would likely be adoptable. The young biological mother grew up in an unhealthy foster system environment. She struggled with drugs and had her first child at the age of 14.
That child was followed by three others, all of whom were adopted by the same family, but the family could not take another baby. Bryan and Julie welcomed Gracie, now 6, into their home and instantly fell in love with the little girl who looked so different than them. They also quickly learned that God had called them to do more than adopt. He was also giving them an opportunity to minister to Gracie’s biological mother. Their relationship with her was just beginning.
In May 2011, Gracie’s birth mother gave birth to a baby boy. DHS reached out to Bryan and Julie, who happily welcomed Seth, now 4, into the family. Exactly one year later, mom had a baby girl. The Haskins family brought Elly home as a foster child, while mom tried to work through a reunification plan. This was a stressful time for the Haskinses, and they learned to trust the sovereignty of God as they walked the uncertain road.
During this time, they continued to look for opportunities to minister to the young mother and share the Gospel with her.
“It’s easy to sit back and talk about a drug addict, but when you see it face to face, it changes your whole perspective,” explained Bryan.
They did their best to show her the love of Christ through their grace and service. Unfortunately, she was unable to complete the plan, and Elly officially became a Haskins.
Early this year, the struggling mother had another baby girl, and little Sophie joined her siblings in their forever home of love. The young woman still weighs heavy on the hearts of the Haskins family, and they pray for her daily.
“I don’t feel released yet from their birth mother,” Julie said. “I don’t know what God will have us do if she has another child. We continue to pray for wisdom and know that God will make it clear.”
One thing already clear is that the foster/adoption experience has opened their eyes to the needs of foster children and their biological families. Bryan and Julie now see family through the eyes of their heavenly Father, and Julie embraces the opportunity that having children of a different color than she and Bryan gives them to talk about adoption.
“People see our family and know the children are not biological. It opens the door to share how God has used adoption to forever change many lives,” Julie affirmed. “Fostering presents such a great opportunity to share and live out the Gospel. Seeing the whole plan come together through the sovereignty of God is such a beautiful thing.”
For now, the couple has begun a ministry in their home church of Newcastle, First that serves vulnerable children. We will see where God takes them next.
If you are interested in exploring foster care, call Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children at 405/942-3800, ext. 4628, or visit www.okbridgefamilies.com.
Kristi Prince is a Correspondent for The Baptist Messenger.