Both rewarding and challenging, the path that God has appointed for Kimberly and Doug Uyechi is one they have been quick to acknowledge as “a family mission.”
The Uyechis have three adopted children and, for the past seven years, they have been opening their hearts to foster children by providing a safe, loving home where their individual needs are met. Over 50 children from hard places have been comforted by Kimberly and Doug’s loving embrace, the majority of those within the last year. Twelve months ago, the Uyechis began serving STARRY as foster parents who were willing to take children in emergency settings so that children would not have to stay in the CPS offices until a longer-term foster home became available.
The couple’s inspiring journey began 23 years ago as newlyweds who were hopeful about starting a family, which they thought meant having biological children. While weekend plans often included friends’ baby showers, they were struggling with the pain of infertility. “About 10 years into our marriage, worn out both financially and emotionally, we started to come to grips with the fact that we might not be able to conceive,” says Doug.
While he turned to God’s Word for comfort, Doug still struggled with frustration and anger. During their time of doubt, Kimberly recalled a poignant moment when an older, mature couple prayed over them at church and encouraged them in their journey toward starting a family.
Years later, another close friend said that he believed Doug was going to be “like
Abraham, the father of many nations.” However, Doug was skeptical – even doubtful – that this statement could be true.
After much prayer and seeking the Lord, as well as friends faithfully praying for them, Doug had a revelation. “Ultimately, I recognized that our parental journey was not ‘Plan B,’ but rather God’s best plan for us.”
On their 10th wedding anniversary, Doug and Kimberly decided to pursue domestic adoption, which forever changed their family in the most beautiful way.
Keoni, their smart, active 13-year-old son, became a Uyechi as a newborn through private domestic adoption. Next, they fostered a little boy named Jaaron (affectionately known as JJ). When he was placed with their family, they knew that his situation would likely turn into adoption and JJ became a permanent member of their family when he was 18-month-old. The newest family member, Kaiyah, a darling 2-year-old girl, came to the Uyechis as a foster placement when she was an infant. Unexpectedly, they were given the opportunity to adopt her as well, which thrilled both Doug and Kimberly!
Now that they are serving as foster parents for emergency placements to help give CPS more time to find a foster home, the Uyechis may have up to three additional children in their care on any given day. That has a direct impact on their family, says Doug. “God is growing compassion and empathy in our children, as God has called the five of us to love and care for children in need. Whether we’re their family for a day or a month, we’re meant to be a safe harbor for healing to begin.”
Perhaps one of the biggest questions the Uyechis hear in regard to fostering is how they guard against heartache when a child moves from their home to another placement. While the couple doesn’t claim it is easy, Kimberly says, “We place the needs of the kids ahead of our own, trying to nurture them in preparation for their next family.”
Although fostering is a selfless act, the Uyechis acknowledge that the satisfaction they experience is worth the sadness that comes when a child moves on. “The seemingly small rewards add up,” says Doug. “When you see a smile, hear a giggle, or get a hug from a child for the first time – those are the moments when your heart melts and you see the child that God intended them to be!”
“We don’t know that any person or couple ever feels truly ready for this calling,” says Kimberly. “What I do know is when it is God’s will, it doesn’t matter what obstacles or doubts you face, He will tear them down. I believe anybody who feels called and is willing to step forward can do the job with God’s grace and provision.”
In His perfect timing, the Lord has shown His faithfulness to Doug and Kimberly in the fulfillment of their dream to have a family. Together, they are living on mission to serve others and show God’s unyielding love in ways that stretch and grow their understanding of what a family looks like. “It’s a joy to love and care for each one of these kids in our home and hopefully makes an impact that will last forever!”
Shanna Squires is a write for Children at Heart Ministries.
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