When the alarm sounds at 6:30 in the morning, Katie rolls over, rubs the sleep out of her eyes, and spends the next few minutes checking Facebook. Then she makes her way into the kitchen to make breakfast for her seven children. Yes, seven children.
Katie and Tony Gonzalez started their adoption journey by adopting through foster care. In 1999, they adopted a 15 month old little girl, and for over ten years, Gabby was an only child and took pleasure in being her parents’ “center of joy.”
Katie and Tony always wanted to have a big family, but were cautious about stepping back into the adoption process after Gabby. In 2010, through a “chance conversation”, they learned that three siblings were in foster care and needed a permanent home. After a year of “forms, medical checks, background checks, and waiting,” Gabby became a big sister to Lydia, Will, and Madi on her 12th birthday. Although the transition from a family of three to a family of six was difficult, Katie is proud of her oldest daughter for showing tremendous maturity and adjusting to her new big family.
Three years after welcoming Lydia, Will, and Madi, Katie received an email from her agency. She was asked to reach out to first time parents in the process of adopting three siblings from foster care. The parents were “struggling badly and drowning in needs they had not expected.” Katie reached out to the struggling parents, but they made it clear that they were not ready to adopt. Katie felt in her gut that she and her husband were being called to provide a home for the siblings. She brought it up to Tony who was apprehensive. Where would everyone sleep? How would they transport all seven children? Would there be enough to go around?
There didn’t seem to be any easy answers, and even friends and family thought they were getting in over their heads and expressed their concerns. Katie and Tony were receptive and discussed the potential adoption with their families at length. And they prayed. Katie knew that if God was calling her to adopt, He would also walk by her side. Katie and Tony took a leap of faith, confident that things would work out. Today, the three children are living with the Gonzalez family waiting for their adoptions to be finalized.
Katie and Tony’s seven children range from ages 5 to 16. To keep sane, Katie created a family schedule that would impress a drill sergeant. During the week, she is part of a homeschool co-op and teaches several 10th grade subjects. The oldest four are also homeschooled, while the youngest three attend public school. After the youngest are picked up from school, there is snack time followed by at least an of hour play time. All of Katie’s children see a Play Therapist once a week, and her youngest have an additional session with a Behavioral Skills Therapist.
The family gathers for dinner at six, and everyone pitches in to help clean the kitchen. Bath time begins shortly after dinner, and bedtimes for the six little ones are staggered throughout the evening starting at 7:15 and ending at 9:00. Katie tries to fit in one on one time with Gabby and quiet time with her husband to dicuss their day and read the Bible. This is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but Katie also manages to find time to keep up a family blog. Although things do not always go as planned, Katie says, “it is her morning prayer that she would have an organized day.”
Katie knows there is a need to foster and adopt, and takes the opportunity to spread awareness whenever she can. On her blog, Katie explains that she once read that adoptive families are not God’s plan A, but His plan A was for the biological family to work. But what happens when Plan A is broken? or fails? Katie says, “Looking around at my messy house, hearing the children laugh and yell,…helping our children cry over wounds they are too young to consciously remember…Yes, I think I am OK with that. Remember this is all Plan B. Plan A was a garden. A garden where foster care, orphans, and pain didn’t exist.”
On any given day there is laundry to be folded, meals to be made, and dishes to be washed. There are also lesson plans, homework, karate, and band practice. If anyone thinks what Katie and her husband are doing is impossible, they don’t seem the least bit deterred. The name of Katie’s blog is “Seeds of Hope”, and written on the header is Matthew 17:20:“ I tell you the truth, if you can have faith as small as a mustard seed…Nothing will be impossible for you.”