By Lauren Swift, Editor
The foster and adoption processes are often a journey in faith and, for a confirmation teacher and parishioner at St. Charles Borromeo in Nederland, a lifelong calling.
“There are certain things you feel you are meant to be and I was meant to be a mom. I waited and waited, put other things and milestones ahead of that, but God put it in my heart,” Buffie Spell said.
That feeling would push Spell to make the decision to become a foster parent as a single woman.
“Fostering to adopt is more difficult than outright adoption because most children will be in your home temporarily,” Spell explained, “It is rare to adopt your first foster child.”
Despite knowing that the first child to arrive on her driveway would probably end up leaving, Spell was still determined to open her heart and home. She became certified in August 2017 to foster, but the date for the first child’s arrival kept being pushed back.
“I was worried because of Hurricane Harvey,” Spell admitted. “But I realized that it was just God’s timing.”
Finally, on Sept. 27, 2017, her first foster child arrived. Worried “as any first mom or foster mom would be”, Spell asked her mother to be there with her to meet the 16-month-old boy that would be entrusted to her care. “I didn’t know it, but the night before I had asked my mother, she prayed to St. Anthony to help bring me my son. He’s really a God send.”
Spell went to meet the social worker carrying the little boy who, within moments, reached for his foster mother. It was only then that she learned his name was Anthony.
At the time, Anthony was only meant to be a temporary foster and his birth parents had not released custody. Spell knew that she would have to give him back, but the “first time I held him, I knew deep down he was meant to be with me.”
“Every Sunday was special and I made sure to bring Anthony to celebrate Mass. I didn’t know what kind of life he would go back to so I wanted to make sure he got blessings as much as possible,” Spell insisted. She explained how she would often avoid taking him to the cry room to ensure he would be included at a young age.
Spell was concerned with how Anthony would react to something new when, a few weeks after they began attending mass, an older man “showed up” at the end of the row she was sitting in.
“Anthony kept looking and reaching for him and he kept looking at Anthony until he asked to hold him,” Spell said. “He held him for a long time before giving Anthony back and leaving.”
After a few weeks, that same man returned and sought Spell out just to hold Anthony again. “He said he would be praying for him and vanished,” Spell explained. “I haven’t seen him since.”
Soon after the visitor’s final appearance, Spell was informed that Anthony’s birth parents had agreed to release custody and she was thrilled to adopt him.
“Everyone kept telling me that God had a plan and I knew in my heart he would be my son. I was worried about Anthony the whole time,” Spell admitted, “but I was patient and had to trust in God.”
Spell noted that for anyone interested in fostering children should look online with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or by visiting https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/Get_Started/steps.asp
“There’s a lot of safety and studying you have to do, lots of background checks to clear, but use the anticipation to fuel you to do what is necessary. Be patient and trust God,” Spell said.
The Spell family celebrated Anthony’s finalized adoption and second birthday on May 20.