Lance and Carolyn Grace knew what they wanted. They had four boys and were ready to adopt a girl.
While they waited for a match, they began fostering children in their home. They fostered 22 children over a period of two years. They were not looking for a child with special needs, but accepted one with fetal alcohol syndrome and another diagnosed with “failure to thrive.” Today, Carolyn knows that those children were all part of a bigger plan. “We feel like it took 22 other experiences for us to say yes to a boy with Down syndrome.”
The 23rd foster child to come into the care of the Graces, Jeremiah faces learning and medical difficulties. Heart defects occur in nearly half of individuals with Down syndrome and more than three-fourths of children with Down syndrome have hearing losses. Digestive problems, thyroid disorders and various infections are more common than in the general population. But Carolyn says, “He’s just perfect.”
One might think that fostering children would encourage foster parents to seek diversion from home at work. But Carolyn does the opposite. She supervises foster care case managers for PCHAS in Wichita Falls. Like PCHAS, she strives to serve like Jesus—to care unconditionally for others—in every aspect of her life. The Graces do not consider themselves specially qualified to parent a child with special needs, but they know that Jeremiah is a child of God and deserves all the love and care they can give. “God had different plans for us and they are way better than ours.”
Jeremiah came to the Grace family at two weeks old and his biological mother relinquished her rights soon after. Lance and Carolyn decided to pursue adopting him. While the process takes several months, the family is patient and hopeful, trusting in words from the Book of Jeremiah: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).