At 9:30 on a Monday night, Matt and Hayley received the phone call they were waiting for. The Caring Family Network said they could have a three-year-old foster daughter in their home in two hours, and they had only a few minutes to decide. Could they take the child in?
From the beginning of their relationship, Matt and Hayley talked about adopting. They met in a Get Trained class at The Austin Stone Community Church and developed an immediate bond over their love of running, although Matt admits now he wasn’t that much of a runner. They started working out together, then dating, and in less than a year they were married.
Two years into their marriage they prayerfully considered the implications of the gospel and felt drawn to orphan care. Through their international missions experiences and the influence of the For the City Network and Caring Family Network, God called them to serve the orphan.
Six months ago Matt and Hayley started the certification process for both fostering and adopting with Caring Family Network. They were open to either option. They trusted God in how he would use them. After five months of training, paperwork and extensive home visits, they were certified. Two weeks later they got the call.
“We had been at church on Sunday and it was one of those really powerful worship times, and I found myself begging for it to happen,” Hayley said. “Then we got the call on Monday.” It was late, and they didn’t have everything they needed for the little girl who was joining their family. They had only two hours to get ready.
It was a scary moment. They paused to catch their breath – and pray. Then they jumped into it. After all, as Hayley put it, “This is what we signed up for.” One hurried trip to the store later, and a cute and confused three-year-old named Emma was in their home. It was late. She was tired. It was not an easy first night.
The next morning Emma got up and the family eased into their new life. Their friends and family helped them through the transition. Within 24 hours they had a car seat, clothes and all the essentials. But that was not the end of the support.
Matt and Hayley serve on the 5 p.m. welcome team at the St. John campus of The Austin Stone. By Emma’s second day in her new home, the welcome team had set up a care calendar and covered all the family meals for the next few weeks.
“I have not felt God’s love like this before,” Matt explained. “This innocent child being rescued and our church family rallying around overwhelmed me.” Foster care is hard at times, but it also reveals an exciting view of God’s mercy and grace.
“This is our Plan A,” Matt explained. “Foster care and caring for the orphan needs to be a priority, and it can be for families. It can be Plan A.”
Matt and Hayley hope to show Emma what love looks like – no matter how long they have her in their home. They know this kind of love can come from only one place. Hayley stated it simply, “You need Jesus daily when you are doing this.”
“I find myself praying every morning,” Hayley said. “I can’t do this on my own. I need Jesus. I’m not going to be able to love her well if I am not relying on him.”
This experience led to several conversations about adoption and the gospel with others – from a 70-year-old fellow runner Matt befriended, to one of Hayley’s friends. Doors have been opened and opportunities to share have blossomed – and it’s only been a month.
Matt and Hayley view foster care as a direct way to serve the city of Austin. “Why would I not do it?” Hayley asked. In discussing the situation that led Emma to foster care, Hayley said that domestic issues are “a cyclical thing. That pattern is never going to be broken unless there are people in these kids’ lives. They need people in their lives to care for them.”
“We’re not super heroes. God uses sinners just like us,” Matt said. “Nothing about what we have to do is convenient. But nothing about the cross was convenient either.”