Thirteen children and still counting!

Joy and Dan’s story

By Joy Loney as told to Catherine Wilson

In the fall of 2000, an unexpected phone call set our family on an amazing journey – a journey that would eventually lead my husband, Dan, and me to open our home, and our hearts, to over 10 children through adoption and fostering. As I hurried to answer the phone that day, I could never have imagined what God had in store for us.

Our home was already more than full. The oldest of our five biological children was married and living with her husband, but our four teen boys still lived at home with us. And a year earlier we had become foster parents to two little girls in great need of love. We were a family of eight living in a four-bedroom home in the greater Vancouver area.

The phone call was from a child placement worker. She said, “We have a baby girl. Would you be interested?”

I was more than interested; I was ecstatic! I hung up the phone and began screaming, “We have another girl!”

Julia’s* story was a very sad one. She had been injured by alcohol and violence while still in the womb, but none of this affected our love and acceptance of this precious child. Deep down, however, I was struggling with a different issue . . . a relentless, gnawing fear. As her foster parents, Julia wasn’t “ours.” My life was overshadowed by the possibility that Julia might be ripped from us by another fateful phone call.

One night as we were preparing Julia for bed, Dan asked me, “Joy, do you love her?” My tears betrayed the anguish I felt.

“You need to let go of your fear,” Dan said gently, “and allow yourself to love her completely.” That moment, with tears running freely, we let God have full control of our lives.

A short while later, we learned that Julia’s birth parents had decided to place her for adoption. God had not only opened a way for us to keep Julia, He was also opening our home to more children. In the process of applying to adopt Julia, we discovered that Julia had a two-year-old brother and a four-year-old sister in foster care. Instead of adopting just one child, we adopted all three.

One day, when I was out grocery shopping with Julia, I happened to meet Julia’s birth mother. In the course of our conversation, I discovered that Julia’s mother was pregnant again and was planning an abortion.

Instantly, my heart was broken. I said to her, “Please look at your baby sleeping in my car. I thank God every day for this beautiful child. Will you please stop and consider what you are going to do to the child growing inside you?” She cancelled her appointment at the abortion clinic, and later gave birth to Joseph. Joseph is now nine, and our fourth dearly-loved adopted child.

What have we learned through our adoption journey? We’ve learned that God will take ordinary people and make their lives extraordinary, if they are submitted to His will. He will work through you to do things you never thought possible. I was once a very timid, shy person. But that changed when Julia was still an infant. Many times now I’ve stepped in to advocate for children in a foster care system that is well-intentioned, but also overwhelmed. Once, I was afraid of my own shadow, but my husband Dan now jokes that he’s afraid of my shadow!

We’ve seen God wonderfully transform the children in our care, too. Five years ago, we took three brothers into our home for emergency foster care. For the first few weeks, their behaviour was so unbelievably disruptive, I wondered if continuing to care for them would be unfair to our other children. Then one night, as I sang all three to sleep, the youngest said, “Sing Jesus!” And I did. Sharing the precious love of Jesus through song was the beginning of their healing. As they experienced the peace of Jesus, these boys were able to let go of their anger. Today they are loving, compassionate kids, and I’m proud to go anywhere with them.

Dan and I know that God has called our family to serve Him through adoption and fostering. This is not the right path for everyone, but I urge you to consider whether it’s something He might be calling you to as well. Right now, 30,000 Canadian children lack secure, loving homes. Many face a very difficult life – one that will wound them deeply. And their wounds will have far-reaching impacts on society as a whole. We need many homes, many hands, many hearts to love Canada’s waiting kids.

*Some names have been changed by request.

Joy Loney and her husband, Dan, live in the Vancouver area. They are parents to five biological children, four adopted children and four foster children, and also provide short-term care for additional children as needed. Dan serves on the board of directors for Focus on the Family Canada. In March 2010 the Loneys appeared before a parliamentary standing committee (HUMA) to present their views on federal support measures to adoptive parents.