Tender Warrior: Lauren Wantz

May 12, 2018

Tender Warrior: Lauren Wantz

“I always knew in my heart that y’all would be my parents,” said 11-year-old William, who Lauren and Jonathan Wantz are now fostering to adopt.

Lauren and Johnathan met him at a Youth Villages Mentoring Program during a long season of infertility. They always thought that fostering and adopting would come after they had kids on their own, but God had a different plan.

“It was a rough 2 1/2 years struggling through infertility. I didn’t talk about it much,” Lauren said. “It feels taboo and so vulnerable. It was lonely, but I had faith that God was changing our plans.”

They saw William every weekend through the program. They would go to the park or take him to the movies. Lauren knew there was no plan for him to ever go back to his family and finally had to say it out-loud: “We should foster him.”

photo by Stephanie Hilleary Photography

“There were a lot of periods of silence and a lot of periods of talking, but in the end we couldn’t say no,” Lauren said about William who was 9 at the time. Although they had made the decision, they couldn’t say anything to him until it was final, even though they saw him every weekend.

He would say things like, “I just wish I could move in with you guys,” and it broke their hearts. 

He loves to talk about the time when he knew all along in his heart that they would be a family one day.

photo by Stephanie Hilleary Photography

“If we would have gotten pregnant when we wanted to get pregnant, we never would have met our son,” Lauren said.

The ability to see God’s sovereignty and perfect plan even in the prayers that he didn’t answer is awe inspiring and also a sobering reminder.  I, too, could see how much better God’s plans are as William led us around his house, beaming, showing us all of his favorite books, toys, games and crafts. He is so proud to be part of this family. God saw sweet William before Lauren and Jonathan even knew he existed— and he is using them to be a father to the fatherless.

It is so easy to get angry when God doesn’t answer our prayers, but I look at Lauren, Jonathan and sweet William and am reminded that God sees the whole world, and he invites us to be a part of loving it with him. He gives us so much more than we could ever even think to ask for.

“People complain about Memphis and the crime here, but what if instead of complaining, we intervened? Even if it is just one person— because if we all helped one person, so many would be impacted,” Lauren said. 

photo by Stephanie Hilleary Photography

Their passion for this city has led them to pursue the adoption process locally for a baby, who could come any day now. William is ecstatic to have a baby brother or sister.

William is so full of life and taught us about one of his favorite hobbies, origami.

“I have always been mesmerized by people making things from something so ordinary. I love to fidget with things and make things, so, really, that is why I love origami,” said William, who Lauren says is so smart, connects with them through board games and absolutely loves going to school. 

This precious boy, so full of life and so loved, is a picture of redemption.

“A lot of people tell us that they would like to do this,  but it is tough. There are a lot of challenges and he has a lot of pain. He misses his family so much. Sometimes he calls me Lauren and sometimes mom. I have to remember that although I am his mom, he has another mom too. Sometimes it is hard that I have to share his love,” said Lauren.

Lauren stressed the importance of having support throughout the process. She said that they couldn’t have made it without the Memphis Family Connection Center (memphisfamilycc.org). MFCC is a center powered by the local Church that provides support and care for foster and adoptive families.

When she brought this up William piped in, “Yeah, the people at the MFCC really are like part of our family.”

She and Jonathan also encourage others considering foster care or adoption to pray hard, talk to people around you, cling to good support and learn as much as you can. A couple books they recommend are:

The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption by Lori Holden

The Connected Child by Karyn B. Purvis 

Lauren began listing off good qualities about William and he just beamed. You could tell he believes what she says about him. The world may categorize him in so many different ways— but she sees him as Christ does. As she spoke truth over him, delighting in who he is, I was reminded of how Christ looks at us.

When we are broken, helpless, and alone— he finds us in our mess and doesn’t ask us to change before he lavishes his love and grace on us. He welcomes us to him and walks with us as we become more like him.

If you would like to help support Lauren and her family in their new journey of adopting a baby, you can click here to purchase her Love Never Fails cuff and 50% goes toward their adoption!

 

      





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