Seven years after facing a medical crisis with their unborn twins, a couple now takes on the thrill ride of foster parenthood.
Essay by Darbi (Fankhauser) Johnson'00
There was a day about seven years ago that I was pregnant with fraternal twins, named Blake and Carter. Their lives were in great danger because their blood and nutrition systems were entangled. Blake was getting too much blood and Carter too little. My husband Michael ’99 and I decided that I would undergo a surgery that would separate the problem blood vessels so that each boy could survive on his own.
Our doctor would do this through a small incision in my stomach and into my womb, using a laser and a scope that were the size of the inside of a ball-point pen. Incredible.
The day before the surgery, I asked them if I could please be put to sleep for the surgery, but they told me they needed me to be awake, in case there were complications. Mike and I might face the decision of having the doctor tie off Carter’s umbilical cord so that Blake would have a chance to live, or leave the boys as they were, in which case they would both most likely die.What kind of choice is that for two parents to make? Tie off one son’s lifeline to save the other, or leave him alone and give them both a slim to none chance of making it?
Sure, we prayed hard, but a text message from God sure would have been nice on that one. THANK GOD the procedure went as planned and we did not have to choose either way. Baby Carter held on for another five weeks post-surgery and then passed away in utero. Blake was born normally and last year he turned a healthy, happy 7-years-old. (He has since been joined by younger brother Tyler, 5).
There are SO MANY choices out there that we humans should not have to make! And now Mike and I find ourselves with another difficult one.
Last year, we accepted our first foster baby, Evie, in our home for two months. We were madly in love with that baby girl and wanted her to know Jesus above all else. However, she didn’t stay long because a relative had expressed interest in adopting her. About a month later, we received our next placement, Gracie, She’s been with us six months now and has us around her finger! Life couldn’t be better here at the Johnson home. And it looks like our baby girl’s case is going to move toward adoption at a record pace.
One Sunday when I was holding Gracie in church and singing, I still had Evie heavy on my heart. I know we poured love into her for two months, but where was her future going? I knew nothing about her new family. Will she ever finally get adopted? Who is going to teach her about Jesus? And the tears began.
Fast forward a few weeks later. I get a text message from my social worker. She asks if she can drive down to visit. Last time she wanted to visit in person it was to tell me that our first baby would be leaving our home. She remembers to write, “Don’t freak out. It’s a good visit.” She knows me too well.
Tyler lays on the floor with his Star Wars guys and I play with the baby, wondering what the situation could be. Things are going well with Gracie. Did they forego the adoption policies all together and decide to let us have her? Then the social worker arrives. She points at my baby stroller.“How’d you like to get a double stroller?”
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“Evie is available and everyone wants you to have her back,” she says.
I threw my head back in disbelief. “How did this happen?”
She explains that the birth family wants Evie to go back to us and that the next foster family in line is not so favorable. But no pressure.
My emotions told me to scream, “Yes, we’ll take her!” But the other side reminded me that we would be welcoming back the drama of weekly visits with drug addicted, mentally ill parents and wishy-washy adoption plans for probably years to come. We would have twin babies, twin toddlers, twin teenagers, twin wedding gowns, everything!
Then I remembered. We would also have the chance to change two lives instead of one. We would get to rescue two innocent orphans out of the pits of addiction, instead of one. We would get to introduce two little girls to Jesus, instead of one. We would get to watch two big brothers fall in love with two little sisters, instead of one. If there’s a couple strong enough to do it, I think we just might be able to. And if there’s a God who can help give us the strength to do it, we’ve learned over and over and over again that He can.For a God who has given my wonderful Michael and me so, so, so much in return for us giving Him so very little, what better way can we pay Him back than by taking care of those who are so heavy on His heart? It’s just that I have to ask Mike first.
Written by Darbi (Fanhauser) Johnson '00.
See the original 2003 article "A Separate Peace" on this site to learn more about the Johnson's medical ordeal with twins Blake and Carter.