Our Unexpected Adoption Story


It’s December 22nd, 2017. I am on vacation with my then fiancé, Emily, and her family. I’ve been looking forward to this vacation for months. We arrived at this beautiful beach with light turquoise water and white sand, and all I want to do is kick back with a drink and relax in my beach chair.

As I’m in full vacation mode. I notice Emily intently reading something on her phone, which surprises me because we are out of the country and there is terrible cell service in our area. After a moment she looks up at me and says, “Chris, take a look at this text.” The message is from our foster care licensing agent. It reads: 

“Sorry to bother you on vacation. We just had a sibling group of four girls come into care, ages 1, 4, 6, 8. The children’s mother has passed away and now their grandpa, their guardian, is in the hospital dying. Can you help?” I look up at Emily noticing tears in her eyes. She pleads, “Chris, we’ve got to do something. We’ve got to take these girls.”


If you know Emily, you know she tends to lead with her heart rather than her head, which is where I come in! I am the voice of reason. As much as I love being a foster dad I had to put my foot down, or as I like to say I had to put my tire down.


“Emily, we need to think long and hard before taking in FOUR kids. We can’t just make a snap decision. We already have a 3 year old boy with behavioral issues in our care. 5 kids would be beyond challenging.” I wait for Emily to nod in agreement, to acknowledge I’m right, which I always am. A man can dream, right? Lol 😂


But instead she throws me a curve ball she says, “Chris, how can we say, “No” when you know they need us?” 

“Emily, are you aware that YOU will have to take care of ALL of us? Grocery shop for 7. Cook 7 meals. Get 7 people up in the morning. Chauffeur 7. As well as take care of our dog? And that’s just for starters. Not to mention most of our family lives in Iowa, and we live in Florida. The guilt I would feel when you need a break or get overwhelmed. It will put enormous amounts of stress on our relationship and seriously impact how much quality time we spend together. Also, we’re only 3 ½ months away from our wedding and we still have a lot of planning to do.

Well, I think you know where this story is going. In case you were wondering this is how all of our fostering conversations go. A few days later on December 26, just the day after Christmas the girls arrived with one backpack, shared between the 4 of them.

All of us have the best reasons, the most logical reasons in the world, reasons that make perfect sense to say no to things. No- to pursuing a new opportunity, giving your time or your money, or opening your home for kids in need. But the greatest rewards in life don’t come from saying “no” or from the comfort of a beach chair.  


Saying yes was the best decision we could have made. They just needed a safe and loving home, which we were more than capable of to offer. Those 4 girls are now 4 of our 5 daughters thanks to adoption. Because we were foster parents there was no adoption costs! Here’s a photo of the 4. Ava is 11, Lily’s 10, Izzy’s 7, and Ariana is 4.

We also have Whittley who is 21. As her name suggests, she’s female— so I’m really out numbered. However, we are now fostering a 2 year old boy and co-parenting a 6 year old boy. Which puts the total of kids we’ve fostered at 18.


By saying, “Yes” Emily and I got out of our comfort zone in a major way. Fear of change causes us to want to keep the status quo, but the only real way we can learn about our personal strengths and weaknesses is to challenge ourselves, and reach beyond our comfort zone. The day I began to stop resisting was the day I began to realize that we could handle more than I thought was possible. 

The fear of change is almost always more frightening than the reality of it. Besides, God doesn’t call the qualified—he qualifies, “the called.” I’m so thankful for Emily, my capeless hero, for pushing me. Because I can’t imagine life without our girls. 


If you are considering fostering to adopt please visit the Dave Thomas Foundation website to learn more. Check out their PSA below. See how we got into fostering in the first place by watching my documentary 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story. It just released on platforms like Apple TV and Prime Video. You can even get the DVD!





Dave Thomas Foundation Commercial