In the summer of 2012, Ben and Jessica Schumacher decided to become foster parents. Childless and facing fertility issues, they decided it made more sense to open their home to children who needed one than to pursue more medical options. Less than two years later, they had a family with six children.
“We could still continue to go on that path,’ Jessica said of the fertility treatments. “We really just felt like adoption was the way. There were so many kids that were waiting for homes.”
They were licensed as foster parents in January of 2013 and soon learned of five brothers and sisters in need of foster care. In April, they took in three of them.
“We said we would take two or three,” Jessica said. “Very quickly into it, we felt it was sad and heartbreaking that they wouldn’t be healing together. We quickly advocated for the kids to be brought together in our home.”
That summer, the siblings were reunited. Ben recalled it was an easier transition from three to five kids than it had been from zero to three. But they weren’t finished. When the children’s birth parents had another child, the Schumachers welcomed him as well. By the end of 2014, they had six children.
“There’s a dynamic for siblings,” Jessica said of the desire to keep them together. “We were open from the beginning even for this large. We loved them from the get-go.”
While Ben and Jessica felt called to be foster parents, a collaboration between their church, Crossroads, and Lighthouse Youth Services supported and validated their decision.
Crossroads and Lighthouse offered foster care training at the church, providing child care for families with kids and an accessible Saturday morning schedule.
“The idea of training up with a community of people that you go to church with, you know you’re going to have a better built-in support network,” Jessica said. “This feels like a confirmation of something that we are already feeling.”
“It really fell into place for us,” Ben said. “We were among the first class of students.”
Ben and Jessica feel that being foster – and now adoptive – parents gives them a front row seat for miraculous moments.
“Foster care is kind of a beautiful suffering,” Jessica said. “There’s so much beauty to be had. You get to see some amazing moments of growth and development. It feels like you’re witnessing a miracle. I don’t think either one of us take that lightly.”
But, she said, there are moments of heartache. While they believe their children are in the best situation they can be in, they realize there is loss, both for the children and their birth parents.
“There’s beauty and there’s loss,” she said. “But we’re happy for the possibilities for their future.”
On Nov. 20, the Schumacher family will be part of Adoption Day ceremonies in Hamilton County and the adoptions will be finalized. They see it as turning a page towards a more normal life.
While it already feels official to them, they are looking forward to it being signed and sealed.
“It’s going to be sweet to not have to be part of the foster system and get to be more of a normal family,” Ben said. The couple explained that the intense supervision during foster care, while necessary, can interrupt the flow of family life and bring uncertainty. They are looking forward to the autonomy and permanency that comes after the finalization.
“To our children, the adoption ceremony says, ‘This is secure, this is forever. This is a promise to me that can’t be broken,’” Jessica said.