Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Amber Singleton, who started one dream and ended up with something completely different. She would have never found her calling if she didn’t first pursue the desires that didn’t make sense or fit in the current version of her life. Guess what? You won’t either.
A couple of years ago, I decided to do something I had always felt a strong pull to do:
adopt a child.
When I got the information, I immediately disregarded it, “I won’t adopt from foster care,” I thought. I had a plan. I imagined myself with an infant or a young child no older than a year. Foster care seemed too unpredictable, too rough around the edges, and (although I hate to admit this now) too imperfect.
A year passed, and I started to feel like I might be ready to move forward with adoption. I still wasn’t quite sure how, but for whatever reason, kept being drawn to the photo listings of foster children who were available to adopt.
One day, I saw two siblings who stood out to me for some reason. I stayed up passed midnight thinking about them, and the last thing I did before going to bed was write one question on a notepad I keep by my bed:
Less than eight hours later, my eyes popped open, and I immediately thought of the two girls. I went to my computer, pulled up their pictures, and asked myself the question again, “How?”
I wrote down all of the things that were standing between me and the girls, and I’ll admit, the list was daunting. How could I afford them? How would I put them through college? I didn’t even have any toys or clothes, and their would-be bedroom was now my tiny office. Could two girls of their age even fit comfortably in my home? And, wouldn’t I need to be approved or something? Surely, there was a process that needed to be followed.
I called my local DCFS office and found out what steps I needed to complete – more to add to the already daunting list. Three weeks later, I was sitting in a foster care orientation class. “What was I doing, and how in the world did I get here?”
Letdowns and New Directions
A few months passed, and before I could get certified, the girls were placed in another home, one of many disappointments and changes along the way.
I found another sibling group, boys this time, but they would eventually be placed, too. Another disappointment, but this time, my perspective seemed to change.
All of a sudden, instead of worrying that the one child or sibling group I had in mind would be placed before I could get certified, I found myself wondering how I would ever pick just one. My list had grown to over twenty individual children and sibling groups, and there was no way my little, two-bedroom cottage would accommodate us all!
Being an entrepreneur by nature, it wasn’t long before I was dreaming up ways to help more and more kids, and before long, the idea had acquired a life of its own.
A Farm and a Concert
In order to take on more kids, I knew I needed a way to feed them (or at least that was the first of many priorities that came to mind). I thought about a farm and growing our own food and how it might also provide a family-oriented lifestyle most foster kids were severely lacking.
But, I knew that couldn’t be the end of it. How would we sustain ourselves? Sure, we might be able to grow our own food on the farm, but what about other basic needs, like keeping a roof over our heads?
I decided it was important to build a community around us (it takes a village, after all) and to have people directly take part in the farm, so I came up with a reason for them to keep coming back: regular events centered around the farm and our lifestyle. My thought? Recurring farm concerts that would keep the community involved and would help kick off and sustain the larger operation financially. Plus, the concerts would help raise awareness around foster care and adoption (I am only one person, after all, and there are only so many kids I can take on myself!).
And, so began the idea for FosterJam, a recurring concert series and fund-raising event to help Fund the Farm, a project dedicated to building better lives for kids in foster care, and to raise awareness for foster care and foster care adoption.
Watch Out for That Hill
It’s funny how things work out. You start out with one thing in mind and take one simple step to get it going, and before you know it, your life is spinning off in an entirely new direction.
Warren Buffett says, “Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill.” He’s exactly right.
The dreams you have in mind for yourself right now can grow bigger than you ever imagined. They might not be perfect or at all like you had planned, but as long as you stay open and keep moving forward, in spite of the setbacks and disappointments, you’ll find that things have a way of working out exactly as they should.
Amber Singleton Riviere writes for Rock Your Genius and is now the head foster mom and event coordinator at FosterJam and Fund the Farm. You can learn more about her life (and work) at AmberSingleton.com.