Bryan and Betsy are the type of people that should get their plan A. They follow all the rules. They look like and smell like Jesus. Always have, always will. Betsy’s the kind of woman that asked me once if she could just come learn from and be with my kids. Bryan’s the kind of guy that woke up at 2 AM one morning and sent Justin an email just to let him know he was praying for him. They are the type of people who ask how you are doing and really want to know your answer. They aren’t trying to be good, they just are good. It’s as challenging as it is refreshing.
So when everything changed in their journey, I couldn’t help but watch. How would the they handle life when it stopped going according to plan? How would they handle grief and loss? The answer shouldn’t surprise you-they handled it with Grace and Truth. God took a most dangerous tool, pain, to refine them, deepen them, and shape them more into His image. They were, and continue to be, honest, vulnerable, and unwavering in their faith.
I am so honored Betsy sat down to share her journey with us today.
Each day, plans change. Yet, sometimes we feel the fork in the road more than others. I think that’s because it wasn’t only a plan for the day, it was a dream embedded into our hearts.
Jesus wants us to dream. The tricky part is keeping our dreams subject to Him. I am type A all the way — I like a clean house, coloring inside the lines and following the rules. I painted a picture in my mind of what life should look like, but the painting seems to look way different as I live it. Why is God’s road filled with sharp turns, deep crevices and storms that bring bruises, scraped knees and tears?
A dream in my heart was the hope of a big family. For how type A I am, I love having people around me. I love being surrounded by my kids — listening to them play, laugh and explore, fills my heart with joy. I was built to be a care-giver. I love it. Nothing gives me more joy than being a wife, mom and taking care of my home.
As a teenager, doctors told me I would have a hard time getting pregnant. My parents around that time started doing foster care, so I started to think and dream about possibly fostering or adopting someday.
After getting married, Bryan and I quickly got pregnant with our first son Caleb. He was the classic “oops” baby. Maybe “making” a family would actually be easy for us, or so we thought.
When Caleb was almost one, we decided he needed a sibling. The doctors seemed more accurate in their prediction this time around. It took us over a year to get pregnant again. I really couldn’t believe how hard it was waiting to conceive. I knew women around me who couldn’t get pregnant at all, so I felt guilty as I hugged Caleb and hoped for his sibling. Each month it consumed my mind. Any woman out there who has a hard time getting pregnant gets me here. It consumes you. Also, you are surrounded by what feels like everyone else in the WHOLE world getting pregnant and saying how easily it happened with a chuckle. Side note, if all you have to do is think about babies and you are pregnant, be careful how you announce that to all your friends. Just maybe, one of your friends or family members is hurting so deeply because they’ve been trying for months. The pain in waiting is real and hard!
I wanted my kids close in age. It would be crazy but fun. I wanted them to grow up together and share everything. It was here that I started to realize that God had a different picture for our family.
We found out we were pregnant with Joshua just before Caleb’s second birthday. I think that was one of the happiest moments of my life. I joke and call Joshua my “promise” baby. God taught me He has a plan and to not question it. I have huge control issues, and I needed to let go and trust in His plan. This lesson I learned over and over in the years to come. It took a while again to get pregnant with our third son, Josiah, but it wasn’t AS hard this time to wait.
As God grew our family in His timing, not ours, I kept dying to my plan. Did I mention that in my plan I thought we should have two boys and two girls? Oh yeah, silly me. You can’t just order your children. Hmmm. Seems I thought you just sent your dream up to God and it happened. Not exactly.
During this time, Bryan and I kept talking about fostering and/or adopting. After Josiah was born, we really started to explore it. I remember sitting in his room nursing him and dreaming about a little dark-eyed Asian girl. God impressed on my heart that this room I was sitting in would be a room used for ministry. We eventually made the decision to try and have a fourth biological child, and became pregnant.
At this point in my life, I thought miscarriage really didn’t happen to me. My heart had broken with countless friends and family members who had suffered that loss, but I seemed to think I was immune to it. When I was 17 weeks pregnant with our fourth child, I went into my doctor’s appointment and as I laid on the table, my doctor couldn’t find our baby’s heartbeat. Weird? That doesn’t usually happen that far along, but baby’s do not usually pass away in the second trimester, so I wasn’t worried.
They scheduled me for an ultrasound that day. I went to the ultrasound place, while my husband watched our three sons in the car. I then heard the phrase that broke my heart into a million pieces. There wasn’t a heartbeat. I was in shock. Complete shock. I called Bryan. He was in the parking garage. “Is everything okay?” he asked. I told him our baby was dead. That was September 27, 2013.
I came out and we held each other and cried together. The boys cried. Bryan held their hands and told them how God is good and we can trust Him even in the hardest moments. This was one of those moments. The next week we had our baby removed by a DNE, which is very similar to a DNC. A month later we found out our little baby was a girl. We named her Faith Anne. We trusted God even when we couldn’t understand every reason why this was all happening, so we named her Faith. And God continued to be gracious to us even in the midst of our loss, hence her middle name, Anne, which means favor or grace. We felt too like God favored her to Himself. She will forever be missed.
We long to embrace her, but for now we trust her life, all of it, into the hands of Jesus. We have seen some redemption through losing her. God’s enveloped us with His Truth, His people and gave us a perspective that was truly from Him. It is amazing to know Jesus and see Him show up in your darkest moments. He does. He also brings the church to show up. It changes you forever.
After losing Faith, I went through months of body turmoil. My body ached from stress. I thought there must be something wrong with me that Faith died – that I did something wrong. Over spring break I even ended up in the ER because I thought I may be having a heart attack. The doctor said my body was extremely inflamed. I blamed myself for her death. Was it the little bit of coffee I drank? Lord, was it because I sinned? What did I do? It is a bad pit to sit in and I dived deep into it.
After that agonizing loss, we again asked each other if we should adopt, foster or try for another biological kid. We looked at all the different options and knew quickly we weren’t called to domestic regular adoption. We had many friends and family members that were not able to have any kids biologically. The thought of being “chosen” before a woman who is waiting to become a mom broke my heart. I knew it would be okay, and it wasn’t wrong to pursue domestic regular adoption, but it wasn’t for me. The two options we considered were fostering and foreign adoption. We went back and forth many times, and finally felt like God was calling us to fostering for many reasons.
We signed up to become foster parents. Again, we had made our plan. But in January of 2015, we found out we were pregnant for the 5th time, on birth control, right before our fostering class was going to begin.
We canceled the class. The slew of emotions I felt were intense. If you have ever lost a precious baby, and then God blessed you with another pregnancy, you will get me here. I was stressed. What if I lost this baby too? Fear seized me. It gripped me deeply.
I lived to hear my little one’s heartbeat. I really couldn’t even enjoy being pregnant or the thought of having another child because I was so worried that my heart would be shattered again.
We found out this pregnancy was a boy. I have to admit, I cried. Actually, I cried hard. Silly, huh? After 24 hours of sadness though, I got excited. Four Bicket boys. I realize I am the opposite of girly and my sons were such blessings! I went from sad to fully embracing the idea of four boys.
We got past the dreaded 17 weeks when Faith had passed. It actually was on Good Friday. We heard his heartbeat, woohoo! I decided it was time to fully embrace this little guy like a mommy should. I loved him and dreamed about the little boy he would be.
Then it all came crashing down again. I was a little over 20 weeks pregnant. I got in bed and thought, “have I felt the baby kick today?” I laid there for over an hour, nothing. When Bryan came home, he could tell something was wrong. He felt and felt. I told him it was probably okay, but because of Faith, I always made sure to feel him each day.
In the morning, there still wasn’t any movement. We went to the doctor, and she too couldn’t find him. I just knew he was gone. We had to go to the hospital and have it confirmed, though. All I could think was what is wrong with me that my body kills my babies? Again, was it that one cup of coffee? Did I not drink enough water? Was my stress level too high? Guilt runs deep in a mommy. My one job is to keep them safe and the failure to protect my babies ate away at my heart until I was sick.
The next week they induced me, and I gave birth to a beautiful perfect looking son on May 2, 2015. We named him Nathan Kent. Nathan means gift of God. Kent is after my dad who loves to give gifts. We spent a day with him. We got to hold our precious little son. See his beautiful face and count his ten little fingers and ten little toes. It was such a hard day, but a gift nonetheless. Nathan is a gift.
The autopsy report showed that Nathan had multiple heart problems. What? I don’t know where that came from. If we wanted more biological kids, they wanted us to go in for genetic testing. I would be labeled “high-risk.”
We believe God planned both Faith Anne and Nathan Kent. Their lives were so short. The loss of them still hurts so deeply. Bryan and I will miss them until we embrace them someday in heaven. Yet, I am so glad to have had them. Even in losing them, I am so thankful to have loved them and to be their mommy and to be their voice to the world. They lived so short, but their lives mattered and they changed me forever for the better.
Nathan taught me another life lesson that I should have learned already. “Betsy, stop worrying about the future!!” I lived for those heartbeat checks. I wanted to protect myself and not fully embrace my son in case I lost him. When I lost him, I right away praised God that it was only after I fully embraced him with all of my mommy heart. He is my son and he deserved all my heart. Do you know what God did? He sustained me. I have loved all my kids fully and even in loss God showed me that He would give me ALL I needed. What would have hurt deeper would have been not loving him with all my heart. My only thing I grieve is that I took so long to get there. That was my loss. My lack of faith in God to care for me in my brokenness stole some of my precious moments and days of loving my son fully.
Going into foster care, I needed that lesson. After losing Nathan, we decided to take a turn towards fostering. It was time to fully explore something we had talked about for a decade, researched and prayed about. It is scary. It is messy. It promises more pain to already deeply grief-stricken parents, but when God keeps putting a road in your heart, it comes to a point that you realize it is time to walk down it and embrace it all — the good and the pain. You know you need to be obedient.
In foster care there are no guarantees. We need to be fully aware the child in our home may go back to their birth parents, but if that is not possible, adoption is the next best option. There is no planning in foster care and no control. We learned a lot going through the 27 hours of class required to get licensed. Yet, fear of the unknown grips your heart.
Quickly, and I mean very quickly, we started to hear about different situations and we had to decide if when we said one, did we mean one. There was a sibling set that needed a home. Then we heard about a boy that would need to be adopted. We came to find out his name was Brathan, and born a day after our son Nathan was stillborn. In that situation, we found that God wanted to connect that boy to ours to pray for him. Nathan is in heaven, but when I think about him, I pray for Brathan, a boy who was adopted and became the first child for a couple. Amazing.
Our first placement call came on Wednesday, October 21. A little Asian girl was born on the 16th. She was at the DCFS office and they wanted us to come pick her up. Yes! We are on our way. One hour later, she was in our home. Looking at this little girl, my mind went back to the dream I had a few years earlier of a little Asain girl. As I rocked this sweet girl in the room Josiah slept in as a baby, I remembered what God impressed on my heart. This room will be a room for ministry. I believe this baby was the baby He gave me a picture of. I also believe my children, Faith and Nathan, taught me the lessons, grew my faith and gave me the confidence I needed as I walked this new calling of foster care. Thank you my treasured children.
So this is where we are right now. Foster care has been a whole new set of emotions for me and giving up my plan for my family. I am not sure how long God will have us on this road. I am not sure if we will end up adopting or not.
What I do know is God has finally taught me to love the children that I have in my home today and He has shown me His track record of taking care of tomorrow — the good and the bad. He will sustain me through it. My kids live in the present with joy. I want to live in it with them. I also pray as we invite children into our home that my own children will learn a lot about God’s grace, His compassion, and His heart for people who are hurting, the orphans and widows of this world.
As a child, I would go to the nursing home and my mom would touch every single person as we walked down the hall. She loved on each person, and that changed me. I went to the Dominican Republic on missions trips, and that was what I wanted to spend my life doing. Love without abandon. I want to open my heart and home and allow God to use it how He wants. We have experienced pain, but as I look around me I realize each story has its fill, and I don’t want to live other people’s stories, but I want to be available to walk with them as they walk their road too.
I cannot paint. My sisters got all the creative genes and they did not share. Still, I sit down with a paint brush and have a picture in mind. When I am done, I want to throw away the painting because the finished product does not look anything like the vision. Yet, maybe the uniqueness of it is what makes it my painting. If I kept the painting, I would eventually treasure it, with all its mess-ups. But looking at it at first, I can only see what is wrong. God is up to something in each of our paintings. Even the broken parts. It doesn’t end here. After all, The Artist isn’t done with His masterpiece yet.