(update: We interviewed Brooke, Jaxon’s mom. Here’s her story, in her own words)
When Jeremy and Cheryl Smith got a call about a five-day-old baby needing placement, they had no idea how the story would end. But they knew God had called them to help hurting children as well as birth families.
The Smith’s welcomed newborn Jaxon into their home in Douglas County in January 2016. His birth mother had tested positive for drugs, hence his removal from the hospital.
“Jaxon had some mild withdrawal symptoms from the drugs in his system when he was born, but overall he adjusted very well to us,” Cheryl Smith said. “It wasn’t too difficult because we were all he knew at that point. In fact, he quickly became the norm in our family and our kids grew to love him like a brother.”
The Smith’s fostering journey began in 2012. Since then, they’ve had four foster children placed in their home. They also have three children of their own, who are all adopted – two through private adoption and one through foster care.
“We decided to become foster parents after hearing about the need for foster homes, through a local church which had partnered with FaithBridge. Our hearts were drawn to the commandment to care for the orphans,” Cheryl said. “We realized that through foster care we would be able to show the love of Jesus first hand to hurting children but also to birth families.”
From the beginning of Jaxon’s placement in their home, the Smith’s worked toward reunification with his biological mom.
“In order for full restoration, the birthparents have to overcome many obstacles and challenges,” Cheryl said. “As a foster family, we felt the need to be part of that encouragement and support as much as the birth parents would allow us to help. Jaxon’s birth mom was very open and receptive to our support and building a relationship with us.”
The birth mom was accepted into a residential treatment at Mothers Making a Chance, successfully completed the program and immediately started after services through the program.
“She also obtained housing and employment through the help of MMAC,” said Christine Robinson, the Smith’s FaithBridge Foster Family Consultant. “As she continued to make progress and maintain sobriety, she became very bonded to the Smiths. They were very supportive and invited her to family functions, holidays, etc.”
When Jaxon was 14 months old, he was reunified with his birth mom.
“[His returning home] was hard on all of us as we feel a void when he is not here,” Cheryl said. “But it has been a great blessing to see a birthparent work hard and be restored. It’s been a joy and blessing to not only help Jaxon but also to support his bio mom and see a family reunited and hope for the future restored in her life.”
And the two families are still close. The Smith’s babysit Jaxon when his mother works and they share meals and time together every week.
“As she continues to work hard to provide and set goals for the future, we have stayed alongside her to assist however we can,” Cheryl said.
“For us, while it can be hard and challenging [to foster], the opportunity to change lives for eternity is well worth the time and sacrifice it requires. We could not do this without our faith. It can be hard physically, mentally and emotionally to walk through all these situations with different families. We have to rely on God’s strength and wisdom in each situation to walk out this journey.”