We recently spoke with Carolyne Osterheus from North Barrington, Illinois who has adopted all of her children from foster care.
LiBU: When you were growing up, did you think about being a mother?
Carolyne: Absolutely! As a child, I loved playing house and tending to my dolls. Also, I am the fourth child of nine, so caring for my younger siblings helped solidify my desire to have children of my own.
LiBU: When you met your husband did you know he was the one?
Carolyne: When I first met Mark, I didn’t know he was the one, but the friend who set us up did! I am so grateful, because Mark is such an incredible dad and husband. One of my favorite traditions is when he takes our daughter to the annual Daddy-Daughter dance. Does it get any sweeter than that?
LiBU: Did you guys discuss children before you got married?
Carolyne: Yes, we talked about being a parents and he would tease me about how I wanted a big family.
LiBU: How did you decide to adopt from foster care?
Carolyne: We decided to adopt from foster care after looking into the options of domestic and international adoption. I was discussing with a close family friend how those paths just didn’t feel right for us. She brought up the idea of fostering and connected us with a couple that had adopted from foster care. After having a long conversation with them, we did a lot of praying and decided to start foster care training. While participating in the classes, it became evident that this was the way we were going to pursue our family.
LiBU: Tell us about your experience adopting your first child from foster care.
Carolyne: We first met our child when his grandma brought him to the training she was in with us. He was such a sick little guy, but I could see such a strong fighting spirit. We worked with Grandma’s agency to become his foster parents and adopted him after a year and a half. It was a journey and we had some challenges along the way. But, we kept our faith that things would work out the way they were intended to be.
LiBU: How did it feel?
Carolyne: When his adoption day arrived, we were super excited and nervous. We weren’t sure what to expect. We went to the court house and were ushered into the judges chambers. It was filled with lawyers and court staff, who broke away from their busy schedules, because they love to witness adoptions. The judge asked us to sit on her “magic couch”. She asked our son, who was 2 at the time, who his mom and dad were and he pointed to us. She then took out a glittered, star-topped wand, waved it over us and proclaimed us a family. It was magical!
LiBU: How did it feel to him?
Carolyne: He doesn’t remember because he was 2 at the time.
LiBU: How did it feel to your husband?
Carolyne: Mark was excited and relieved.
LiBU: What can you tell us about your experience about going on to adopt 3 more children from foster care?
Carolyne: Adopting 3 more children from foster care was just a natural progression for us. We mutually came to the understanding that any child we fostered, would become part of our family, if that was the way the case proceeded.
LiBU: What’s it like being the mother of a very busy and very full household?
Carolyne: I love being a mom and all the craziness that comes with a busy household. I think the harder the road is to becoming a parent, the more you cherish your children, because you are gifted with the knowledge of how truly blessed you are. Having kids definitely challenges you to become a better person. There are so many ways each of them have enriched our lives beyond measure.
LiBU: What’s Christmas like at your house?
Carolyne: Christmas morning is very low-key. Each child receives 3 presents, one from us, one from Santa and one from baby Jesus. We like to put the focus on celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Later in the day, we celebrate Christmas dinner with most of the 21 cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents. That’s when things get really loud, but always fun and full of love.