We are pleased to share the blog version of Real Wood Floors’ The Every Child Podcast. This blog serves as a complementary piece by highlighting key points of the interview. Enjoy.
Married couple, Taylor and Rachael Gill, have long been excited about growing a large family.
After all, both of them hail from big families. Taylor has six siblings and Rachael has four.
The Gills are in their late twenties and live in Delaware where Taylor works in procurement services at his alma mater, the University of Delaware. This past June marked four years of marriage, and they have an adopted son, Elijah, 17 months; a foster daughter, Ami, 10 months; and a boy on the way.
“We’ve always been interested in foster care and adoption,” Rachael said. “We talked about it when we were dating. We both come from families who have adopted, and we both have adopted siblings. We loved how it was so special to us growing up to have people become part of our family who were not part of our family at one point—and just what an impact it made on our siblings’ lives.”
First steps on the foster care road.
About two years into their marriage, Taylor and Rachael were able to open up their home to a child—before that, they had lived in small apartments. For those who don’t know, if you are going to become a foster parent, legally you need to have a separate bedroom for any children.
For the first time in their lives, they had to baby-proof their space. Taylor remarked, “It was a bit overwhelming knowing how much we had to get that we didn’t have.” They also got their finances in order, and in April of 2019, they began the foster care process by taking classes while they moved into their new house. Ten months later they received their first phone call!
Having an open heart.
When the Gills started the process, they were open to any child, aged three and under. They didn’t have a preference for gender either. In preparing for a small child, they had to purchase a crib, a toddler bed and a variety of clothes. They also had to be flexible in their preparations since they couldn’t know all the specific things their first foster child would need.
Rachael said they were unsure of what to expect as first-time foster care parents; however, they were aware that the goal of this type of care is reunification—for the child ultimately to reunite with his or her biological parents if at all possible. This can be a heartbreaker for foster families.
Rachael said, “We tried to be open to whatever God had for us. And we were still obviously really scared, but we felt very called to foster care, especially the more we went through the process and talked to other families who had done foster care.” The Gills were concerned that they might get attached to the child and then suffer heartbreak by having to let the child return to the biological parents. While they pursued adoption with Elijah, they began fostering daughter Ami, and the Gills are so thankful that after ten months, they still have Ami in their lives.
Elijah: a slam-dunk adoption case!
The Gills’ situation was unique because their first foster care phone call ended up being “a slam-dunk adoption case from two days old,” as Taylor put it.
The Gills learned that a newborn boy needed adoptive parents. This adoption was a Safe Arms for Babies case in Delaware, likely the first of its kind in the state. When a parent leaves a child (fewer than fourteen days old) at a hospital emergency room and asks not to be identified, then the Safe Arms for Babies law kicks in. Since the biological parents wished to remain anonymous, then by law, the baby can be adopted, and this was the case for the infant and the Gills. On a cold winter’s night in Delaware, a baby had been taken to an emergency room and left there with the hope of a better life for that child.
Taylor attributes God’s hand in the way things worked out and the timing of everything for them and their son, Elijah. A couple of days earlier, the Gills had to miss a phone call because Taylor’s number had been written down incorrectly by the agency. When the Gills eventually called in, that particular child had already been placed with another family.
The day after they learned about this newborn ready for adoption, the Gills visited the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and met Elijah. Rachael said, “He was this five-pound nothin’ peanut. But so cute.” On Sunday, Rachael was able to stay the night with him at the NICU. As a first-time mom, Rachael was glad to be surrounded by nurses to help her as she took care of him that first night.
About a week later, on Taylor’s birthday, they brought Elijah home.
Bumps in the road.
Taylor and Rachael had been told it would be a quick and smooth adoption; however, they learned that the adoption date was ten months away. The pandemic played a part in slowing down the process as case workers prepared documentation and hearings took place.
The Gills did their best, but they did get nervous from time to time before the adoption date because they were aware that something could happen that might alter the adoption’s course. During the wait time, they did as many other foster parents do—they fostered children. In the Gills’ case, some were very brief stays, and Rachael noted, “Those situations were challenging, but they got us acquainted with the idea of loss in foster care.” Eventually, they accepted a four-week-old girl. The agency told them not to get attached because this girl named Ami would likely be placed elsewhere, but as mentioned above, Ami is with them today, going on ten months!
Resources for foster and adoptive parents.
When the Gills considered foster care, one of Rachael’s friends had recently been through the process with the state of Delaware, so she was great resource. In foster care, there are a great number of players and events—from the court proceedings to social worker meetings—and it can be confusing and even stressful. The friend had gone through the same agency, and as the Gills walked through the steps, she answered questions and concerns.
Podcasts on foster care were helpful. Rachael confessed, “I’m addicted to The Forgotten Initiative. I listen to it the same day it comes out.” She also listens to the Real Mom Podcast, which is for foster moms as well as biological and adoptive ones. Rachael felt like the latter was particularly good at keeping her mindset Christ-focused as opposed to one of self-protection that would fret about being hurt through foster care.
Taylor remarked that their church provided many role models. Some families had fostered and others had adopted, thus providing a wealth of experience and information. And when they first brought Elijah home and were having many a sleepless night, their nearby family offered a helping hand; Taylor’s mom visited and helped out; and their church family brought them meals. “During that time, I felt so loved,” Rachael said.
We asked the Gills: “Are you still fostering?”
“Depends on which one of us you ask,” Taylor joked.
In foster care, “respite care” allows folks to sign up to watch kids from other families if they have to leave the state and can’t take the children or if they just need an overnight reprieve. Recently, the Gills had four kids under three for a couple of weekends. “They were a joy to have,” Taylor said. It’s tough for Rachael to say no when the agency calls, but the Gills feel they do need to say no sometimes since new preparations have to be made for something they had not planned: a third child!
Thankful and trusting in God.
The Gills are thankful for the families around them who, as Taylor said, “were willing to take that leap because they felt like Christ was calling them to do it. The greatest joy in our lives has been having these kids.” Taylor went on to say that this joy comes with challenges but that the challenges shouldn’t scare prospective parents away because ultimately you experience the joy of loving these kids and seeing them grow and thrive. And it can be reaffirming in one’s faith.
For Rachael, trusting God, that He is writing their story in a unique way means a lot to her. God called them to foster care, and Rachael felt that call deeply despite her fear of losing the child. God was gracious and gave them Elijah and helped guide them in navigating Ami’s case and the unknown. “Trust God and where he leads you. Knowing that He is gentle and loving and will give you everything you need in the time you need it,” Rachael said.