Opening a Home to Love

05/19/2017 .
Toni Herr  .  Volunteer Storyteller

They met while serving on a work crew at a Southern California Christian summer camp. Aubrey and Scott remained friends for years until they began dating in their early twenties. Their camp romance rekindled and they dated for a mere two weeks before becoming engaged. Seven months later, they were happily married.

Aubrey and Scott were set on becoming parents right away. Their goal was always to start a family early—on their honeymoon. But that didn’t happen as planned and they started to wonder if they’d ever be parents. Years passed, but the couple remained patient and followed the doctor’s advice to submit to tests and procedures that would help the process along. After waiting for what seemed like forever, they began trying fertility drugs, but still, Aubrey was unable to get pregnant.

There was no rational explanation. They were in a minority group of couples for which no reason for infertility can be found. This news devastated Aubrey and Scott. Usually they were an easy-going, take it as it comes, level-headed couple. They determined to trust God to provide them with children. Aubrey knew in her heart, she’d become a mother. Scott wasn’t sure if they would ever have children.

Through Aubrey’s older sister who had adopted four siblings, God showed Aubrey that adoption was a viable pathway for her to become a mom. In their ninth year of marriage, they received a call from a family member letting them know of a parent who had lost custody of her children and asking if they would be willing to watch them. Scott’s eyes were opened to caring for other people’s children after seeing the pictures of these kids who needed him and Aubrey the most. His questions in the past had been typical—will they all have bad behavior? Will they all come to us broken and abused? His thinking switched from the difficulties of fostering to the joy of making a difference in the life of a child, whether it was his or not.

In January 2011, Aubrey and Scott completed an online application with a local private adoption agency. By the end of June, they were certified foster parents. In a couple of weeks, they began fostering two young girls for an eighteen-month period. The girls were then reunited with their biological mother.

Aubrey had experienced a wealth of emotions as she cared for the girls and mentored their biological mother in becoming a skilled parent. As with many biological parents who lose custody of their children for a time, this mom had not grown up with appropriate modeling and training in parenting.

Aubrey knew she had to be the stable one in the relationship with the biological family when she fostered children; it was in the kids’ best interest. She and Scott keep open contact with all the families of their foster children. Since the ultimate goal in foster care is reunification of the families, the couple kept healthy boundaries and provided godly examples to follow. They recommend Celebrate Recovery, small groups, and invited the families to church. Their first few foster placements were reunited with their biological parents.

Sadly, fostering is not always easy. In January 2013, little Jackson came to Aubrey and Scott with numerous injuries. Jackson endured a lot of doctor appointments to heal his wounds. At one appointment, the doctor informed them that Jackson’s bone scans showed several instances of child abuse.

Upon arriving home with his soon-to-be adoptive parents, it only took two days for Jackson to begin smiling again. He bonded quickly with both Aubrey and Scott as he began emotionally healing. Little Jackson was adopted two years later. Aubrey continues to build a strong relationship with Jackson’s biological mother and his paternal birth grandparents.

Photos are shared and occasional visits at the park let the grandparents see how he is growing. They have had their own family traumas and burdens. Aubrey’s relationship with them has allowed healing to occur.

When Jackson was two years old, Aubrey and Scott received a short-term placement foster daughter. After she was with them a few weeks her placement was extended to eighteen months. She eventually reunited with her mother and they still have playdates. Aubrey feels close to all her reunited kids and their birth parents She lovingly refers to them as her extended family.

At times, foster parents need a break, and they are given respite care. One week, Aubrey and Scott gave another couple respite care for spring break by watching Jameson and Angelina. Just a month later, they were asked to take Jameson and Angelina permanently, but these children were older and they only had experience caring for babies and young children.

Aubrey was sure that there would be other parents better suited for these two kids. She knew she was meant to foster little ones. The agency kept checking in with Aubrey and Scott. They would be placed in group homes if a family wasn’t located soon. Aubrey told a friend about the situation and how hard it was going to be for Jameson and Angelina and her friend exclaimed, “What are you waiting for? You know you want to do this!”

Aubrey and Scott discussed it and quickly got on the same page. They said yes to the older children and became their legal parents—28 months after going through the foster care system.

At their local Saddleback campus in Rancho Capistrano, Aubrey and Scott helped launch the Orphan Care Initiative. The ministry provides support groups for foster and adoptive parents and their families. The ministry hosts events where these families can meet one another and support each other.

Recently, they began fostering another infant. As of today, their home is filled with the love of three adoptees, and a foster baby. Scott is now a stay-at-home dad, and Aubrey works both outside and in the home.

Aubrey has seen her children grow by leaps and bounds. The children have each other to love, they’ve made friends, participated in sports, attend church, and have healthy relationships. They have compassion for children with difficult home lives. A gigantic weight has been removed from each of them. Two who had never attended school before being adopted are now successful students. When many kids in these situations end up tragic statistics, Aubrey and Scott help them thrive. Aubrey could never have imagined that the newlywed who wanted to start her family on her honeymoon could feel this blessed.

If you'd like to check out the Exploring Adoption events hosted by Saddleback's Orphan Care initiative times and details can be found below:

Aliso Viejo

Tuesday, May 30 | 6:30–8:00

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Thursday, May 25 | 6:00–8:30 PM

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Sunday, June 11 | 6:30–8:00 PM

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Irvine North

Thursday, May 25 | 6:30–8:00 PM

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Irvine South

Tuesday, May 23 | 6:30–8:00 PM

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Lake Forest

Wednesday, May 24 | 6:30–8:00 PM

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Wednesday, June 7 | 6:30–8:00 PM

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Los Angeles

Sunday, May 28 | 9:00–10:30 PM

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Newport Mesa

Tuesday, May 30 | 6:30–8:00 PM

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Rancho Capistrano

Thursday, May 25 | 6:30–8:00 PM

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San Clemente

Wednesday, June 7 | 6:30–8:00 PM

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San Diego

Sunday, May 21 | 1:00–2:30 PM

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South Bay

Sunday, May 28 | 1:00–2:30 PM