Every child deserves a stable home environment with loving parents. But for the 400,000 U.S. children in foster care each year, that isn’t always a reality. After learning about the significant need for foster families in Hancock County, Rachel and Austin Gerber became licensed foster parents in 2012. Just five years later, the Gerbers are a family of six with four beautiful children, two of whom are adopted.
We sat down with Rachel to learn more about their adoption story and how their lives changed dramatically in a matter of days. Beginning in 2012 Austin and Rachel did a lot of respite, or short-term care, for other foster families. Respite care provides a way for long-term foster parents to be able to travel or take a little break (respite) while another licensed foster parent watches the children.
In the summer of 2015, 2-year-old boy/girl twins were placed with the Gerbers under respite care. Four days after they took in the twins, Rachel and Austin were asked to keep them long-term with the intention of adopting them. At the time, their biological daughter, Selah, was a little over 1 year old and they had recently found out that Rachel was pregnant with what would then be baby No. 4.
The first four days
“I think back on those times and it was just such a whirlwind. We didn’t even have clothes for the twins, so I was grabbing the smallest T-shirts we could find for them to sleep in. Our daughter, Selah, was running around, fascinated by them, and it was just chaos,” Rachel Gerber says, recalling those first days with a laugh. “But it seemed like they fit in with our family pretty quickly. After those first few days when we were asked if we wanted to keep them we felt very peaceful that they were supposed to be part of our family.”
Gerber admits that it was hard because the people around them questioned their decision and their ability to go from one child to four children under the age of 4. However, Gerber explains that both she and Austin knew God was telling them “Yes, you should do this.”
A beautiful thing
The adoption of the twins, Malachi and Aliza, now 4 years old, was official in March 2017. Gerber shares that while it can be a challenge to have so many young children close in age, the kids all play together and are the best of friends. Being able to see the bond their four children now have is “such a beautiful thing,” she says with a smile.
Gerber encourages anyone who is on the fence about becoming a foster parent to take a step of faith. “We need really good families that are going to love these kids. Being able to form a bond with a child, even if it is for a short time, is going to make a big difference in that child’s life,” she says.
Readers can learn more and follow the Gerber Family’s adoption story through Rachel’s blog: brewingblessings.com.