Join co-hosts Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber as they discuss the value of foster care with Micah Maddox, who was adopted herself and is today a foster mom, a mom to three bio children and a ministry wife. Learn how the Maddox family is portraying Christ as a busy, multiracial family.

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Transcript

Announcer: Welcome to the Adopting and Fostering Home Podcast. Whether your family has been on this journey for years or you’re just getting started, we are here to support and encourage you along the way. And now your hosts, Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber.

Lynette Ezell: Welcome back. Thanks for joining us today. In Matthew 5, Jesus teaches that the body of Christ is to be salt and light to a broken world. Now, why salt and light? Why did Jesus use this analogy? Salt preserves, and as believers, we are designed by God to preserve, be the flavor of Christ where there is a need. The people of God should be the aroma of Christ, the first one in with boots on the ground, being the hands and feet of Jesus, bringing light to the darkness, exposing the darkness and bringing healing to the wounded. That’s what we want to encourage you to do through this podcast. Children in North America are in desperate need of families who will love them and pray for them, teach them how to love and how to be loved by Jesus. Our sweet guest today is doing just that. Welcome, Micah Maddox, to the Adopting and Fostering Home Podcast. We’re so glad you could be with us today.

Micah Maddox: Thank you so much for having me today.

Tera Melber: Micah, we’re so glad to have you. Why don’t you tell our listeners about your family and how the journey of foster care began for you.

Micah Maddox: Sure. I’m married to a pastor and we have three children. We have Hannah who is 12, Maddie is 10, and Jackson is 8, and then we have one foster son who is 3. Probably about three years ago, my husband and I began to pray about foster care and adoption. We really were focusing on adoption. That was where our hearts were. I’m adopted. My dad was a pastor.

Tera Melber: Oh, wow. Yeah.

Micah Maddox: Yeah. My dad was a pastor and when I was six years old he actually walked away from church. He walked away from our family and walked out of our lives.

Lynette Ezell: Wow.

Micah Maddox: Big, big deal as a little six year old girl, but about a year later my mom met a man who walked into our lives and he was like our guardian angel, stepped in and rescued us. He adopted my brother and myself. Throughout my life as I developed a relationship with my step dad, who adopted us, I began to have a heart for kids who needed a parent. I really, really had a passion for children that weren’t my biological children. As I shared that with my husband, he was like, “Nope. We’ve got three.”

Tera Melber: Been there.

Lynette Ezell: Yes we have.

Micah Maddox: Yeah. “We’ve got three and we are good.” He would say, “We have eenie, meenie, minie, and mo.” I shared my burden. He said, “No.” Then I asked him, “Would you just pray about it? Would you just pray about it?” We began praying about it and it wasn’t like this holy fasting and praying. It was like, God put it on my heart. I would pray. God would put it on my husband’s heart. He would pray. Once in a while, we’d pray together. This was about a two year journey of off and on, “What do you think?” “I don’t know. We’re not ready.” “No, we have three.” “We’re struggling to parent the three we have. How could we add another child to the mix?”

Micah Maddox: Eventually, God just really impressed upon our hearts to just take the first step. That would be find out what the needs are in our community. We went to an adoption agency and we said, “Hey. We’re interested. We just wanna find out what the options are.” At the meeting that we went to, we did not know that they were gonna present foster care. That really wasn’t on our radar at the time at all. Adoption was what we were going for. They presented foster care. We got into the car after that two hour meeting and my husband and I looked at each other and, in unison, we said, “Foster care. That’s it.”

Lynette Ezell: Wow.

Micah Maddox: That was the answer. With that, we knew that was the clear answer after all that time of not being clear.

Lynette Ezell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Micah Maddox: We took the first steps of actually making an action into foster care and that was the classes. We took classes in our area. It’s like 30 hours of classroom time where you find out all about the possibilities and you find out the needs of the children and really become certified as foster parent. Even then, through the classes, my husband still was hesitant. He said, “We’re taking the step, but that doesn’t mean we’re taking in a kid tomorrow.”

Tera Melber: He stood his ground. Yeah.

Micah Maddox: Right. We are just taking a step. He’s slow and steady, which is great-

Tera Melber: It is. Yeah.

Micah Maddox: Because I jump into the deep into the pool with no water. Like, “Let’s go.”

Lynette Ezell: I love it.

Tera Melber: You know what I love about that, Micah, is that I think a lot of times when people feel the call to foster care or adoption, they think it has to happen tomorrow. I know that if the Lord’s calling you to something and you’re both in agreement, that tomorrow or today is the day. You have to be obedient right away. However, if you’re both not on the same page-

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Tera Melber: It’s okay to wait-

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Tera Melber: And take time-

Lynette Ezell: It is okay.

Tera Melber: And to be able to figure out your family dynamics. If you’re drowning with three, adding a kid from trauma into the mix is probably not gonna be super healthy.

Micah Maddox: Right.

Tera Melber: I love the fact that it was a journey for you guys, that you … I felt like it was similar to us when we first started talking about it. It took, from the first conversation, maybe five years before we ever did anything. I think it was the same for you guys.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah, a long time. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tera Melber: Just evaluating life and being able to figure that out is really good.

Micah Maddox: Yeah. I talked to a lot of people who are interested in it and that’s … my husband and I both will tell them, “You gotta be on the same page.”

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely.

Micah Maddox: You gotta be on the same page about it. Just start praying about it. I … we found if you start praying about it, God answers.

Lynette Ezell: No, he surely does.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: I tell people all the time, if you have a heart that … if you have a heart to open your home to children, the Lord will fill it. He will fill your tent. Well, Micah, I know your husband is on full-time church staff and I know you speak. You have great information on your website, micahmaddox.com. Your speaking schedule is on there. You guys are in leadership. You’re super busy raising four children. How has fostering influenced your ministry, your position of leadership? How has fostering influenced that?

Micah Maddox: This is such a good question because if you would … if you were to look at our lives before we started fostering, you would think, “There’s no margin. There’s no way.”

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Tera Melber: Right. That’s right. That’s right.

Micah Maddox: There’s just no way because my husband, he is super busy at the church. He also is the chaplain for our fire and rescue here-

Tera Melber: Oh, goodness.

Micah Maddox: In our county. He is-

Tera Melber: Busy.

Micah Maddox: 24/7 helping other people in our community. I have my ministry on the side. We call it … it’s like an extra thing. I get to share my story and share hope and Jesus with the world. It’s a lot. Then we have the three biological kids and they are … we’re in the thick of it. We are-

Tera Melber: Oh, yes.

Micah Maddox: Right in the thick of that parenting. How could we even add this was, “Whoa. Can we really do this?” God really just said, “Do it.” It was a act of obedience. As we followed in obedience, our ministries have flourished through foster care. What I mean is, when I get to go speak and share my story, now I have another layer to add-

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Micah Maddox: And say, “Hey, also, how many of you here are in foster care?” I would usually be able to connect with someone. Or, if not, someone comes up to me afterwards and says, “You know what? God’s been speaking to my heart about foster care. Tell me a little bit more.” It’s like, “Okay, Lord. I see it. I see how you are impacting the kingdom through this one decision of obedience that we made of foster care.” My husband, with all that he does, it has just been an amazing blessing, especially with the first responders that he-

Lynette Ezell: Oh, I bet.

Micah Maddox: Ministers to, because he goes on scene of those situations where the children are taken out of.

Tera Melber: Oh, wow.

Micah Maddox: He’s able to be there firsthand when these firefighters and police officers are struggling with what they’re seeing. He’s able to say, “Hey, this hits close to home for you. This hits close to home for me. Here’s how I walk through it. It’s through Jesus.” That’s probably the biggest way that it has impacted our ministry.

Lynette Ezell: That’s awesome, Micah. What are some life changing, maybe, “Aha,” moments that the Lord has taught you on this journey?

Micah Maddox: Hm.

Lynette Ezell: I know.

Micah Maddox: First-

Lynette Ezell: Where do we begin, right? Where do we begin?

Micah Maddox: Right. So many. There are so many. It’s true. First, I would say I was not aware of the need of foster care.

Tera Melber: Right. I think we’d all agree with that.

Tera Melber: I absolutely agree.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. The need is huge.

Micah Maddox: It’s enormous and I was not aware of the individual need of each child. As a biological parent, you parent your kids and you raise them and you love them. You bring in a child with trauma and even if the child has not been abused or in neglect, let’s say the parents passed away and they’re in foster care. They still are gonna have the loss and the trauma.

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Micah Maddox: A lot of them have the other layers, the abuse, the neglect-

Tera Melber: Right.

Micah Maddox: The needs are so big. The emotional needs, in our home that’s the biggest need right now is just the emotional need. The need for what does love even look like? You’re coming … as I’m coming toward the child, I’ve seen them flinch-

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Micah Maddox: And back away and wonder, “Can I trust you? What are you gonna do to me?”

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Micah Maddox: It’s like, “No, no, no, honey. Mommy is not gonna hurt you. You’re safe here.” I think that was eye opening to me to see this whole culture in our … right here in our town. We live in a small town. Right here in our city where there’s kids who have it rough and who have it hard. Another thing is my own kids opening their eyes, helping them open their eyes to the reality of the pain that’s present right here in our world.

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Micah Maddox: We can shelter our kids real well. We can wrap them up in a bubble and we can homeschool or send them to Christian school. We’ve done both of those and we’re in the midst of right now, Christian school season. We can try to protect them, but foster care has opened their eyes to a place where we need to show Jesus and we need to shine His love. I’ve seen my kids change through foster care, which has been beautiful. Kids complain about food sometimes at dinner. My kids, now, if one of them complains, they’ll say, “There’s people in our town, kids in our town, who won’t get dinner tonight.”

Lynette Ezell: Right. That’s right. That’s the reality.

Micah Maddox: The only reason … right. That’s the reality. The only reason they really know that is because of what they’ve experienced in our own home with kids.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. That’s beautiful. That is a beautiful story. Tera and I’ve seen the same thing happen in our families. We see our adult children, now married, embracing adoption-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: And foster care. It is-

Micah Maddox: I love that.

Lynette Ezell: Life-altering for a family. Absolutely. You and I were talking a couple of days ago. You’re now a multi-racial family. You had to make a few changes.

Micah Maddox: Yes. That has been a … I wouldn’t say a huge change for us, but it has been a change because you take a child in and it’s okay inside the walls of your home-

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Micah Maddox: You get … my own kids have questions and we can answer those and we can filter those and we can help them walk through it, but then you walk outside the walls of our own home and all of a sudden, we’re the neighbor who has a child that doesn’t look like the rest. We’ve got the looks and we get the questions. Kids are so honest. We’re out in public and they’re like, “So, is he yours?”

Tera Melber: That’s what their Mom and Daddy are thinking? It’s just the kid’s brave enough to say it.

Micah Maddox: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Exactly.

Micah Maddox: Kids say it. My kids will speak up. My son will say, “He’s my brother.”

Lynette Ezell: Oh, I love it.

Micah Maddox: We’re like, “Yes. Yes. That’s right.” It’s none of their business anyway, is it?

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Micah Maddox: We have had to learn some of the culture that we didn’t know otherwise. We’ve had to learn to comb his hair and how to care for his skin and how do different things. For him, for our foster son, we’ve learned that even as a one year old, he was not color blind. That taught me I can’t pretend like we’re one big happy family that looks like everybody else in public.

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Micah Maddox: I have got to respect and realize that even as a baby, he sees the difference. It’s been a beautiful thing to see him … see his little eyes watch other people and see other families that do look the same. He’ll look at our family and he’ll look around. He can’t say it, but you can see it in his eyes and he’s thinking and the wheels are turning. I look forward to the day when we can discuss it and we can talk about it. What I would say to anybody that is maybe nervous about interracial families is, “It can be done and it can beautifully done. It can be the most beautiful picture of Jesus that we can ever see because the world looks on the outward appearance and they see, ‘Here’s a pastor. Here’s a family that’s taken in this child.’”

Micah Maddox: In fact, we were in a restaurant on vacation and we had a waiter. A handsome black man came up to our table. He acted kind of funny. I thought … he walked away and I thought, “Wow. I don’t know. I felt uncomfortable. Did you feel the vibe?” My husband felt it, too. Towards the end of the meal, I got up and I took all four kids to the bathroom, potty break. During that time, that waiter came to my husband and he said, “Are you a pastor?” My husband was shocked. We had prayed before our meal, but that was the only … all we’ve done. He said, “Well, yes I am. What makes you ask?” He said, “I was that little boy.”

Tera Melber: Oh, gosh.

Lynette Ezell: Oh, wow.

Tera Melber: I would’ve been a puddle.

Micah Maddox: Yeah. It was a good thing I wasn’t there.

Tera Melber: I could cry right now.

Micah Maddox: I was in the bathroom. I didn’t know anything about it til afterwards. He said, “I was that little boy.” He looked at my husband and he said, “You keep loving that little boy.” Then, he … it gets better. He says, “My son is in the booth right over here and he’s away from the Lord. Could you pray over my son?”

Lynette Ezell: Oh, wow.

Micah Maddox: So he brought his son over and my husband got to pray over him. I come back to the table. I didn’t know what had happened. My husband’s just sitting there glowing and teary-eyed. I was like, “What in the world?” He said, “You know what? If we ever question foster care, we need to remember this night. He was that little boy, now he has a son of his own that needs the Lord.” No matter … without saying a word, we were shining the light of Jesus Christ-

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Micah Maddox: By taking in whoever God puts in our home.

Lynette Ezell: That’s right. That’s right. We started this podcast talking about Matthew 5 being salt and light to a broken, dark world. That is such a picture. When we open our homes and take in a child that maybe doesn’t look like us or we’re from different backgrounds, obviously, when we do that we are being salt and light just by our presence. It’s not easy. It takes work to, on purpose, be salt and light, but that’s what the Lord’s called us to do, to preserve, designed by God to be the flavor of Christ. What a beautiful story.

Tera Melber: I’m a hot mess over here, Micah.

Lynette Ezell: That’s a beautiful story. I know that was personal. We appreciate you sharing. Now, I know when Kevin and I started adopting and my daughters are doing foster care, has there been a shift from what you thought fostering would be, like on paper? Kind of like a budget, they look great on paper and then they’re … but has there been a shift from what you thought fostering would be like when you’re going through the classes? Was there a big change-

Tera Melber: In reality-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah, in reality of what it really is?

Micah Maddox: Yes. I really anticipated going to the hospital and picking up a newborn baby.

Tera Melber: Not quite the same.

Micah Maddox: Yeah, and loving that baby. Our story was much different. We got a child in the middle of the night.

Lynette Ezell: Oh, gosh.

Micah Maddox: The child came with clothes on his back and a little tiny bag of belongings. The belongings were dirty with holes. It was shocking. We laid there, my husband and I, in our bed, and we boo-hoo’d like babies and put this child that was asleep in a little pack ‘n play and prayed that he wouldn’t wake up until the morning. When he did, we prayed that he wouldn’t be terrified.

Lynette Ezell: Right. Right.

Micah Maddox: It looked so different than what I anticipated. As we’ve gone through it, I thought that we would have children coming in and out of the home, in and out of the home. I’d prepared my heart for that. That’s not at all what it’s been. We’ve had long term placements. We’ve developed deep relationship with the child and we’ve seen growth and we’ve seen regression. We’ve seen growth and we’ve seen regression. It’s looked very, very different than anything I could have ever anticipated, but the beautiful part in it is the growth that we have seen. One thing that I wanna share is we’ve seen a child come into the home with a very limited vocabulary, knowing only negative words like, “No,” and “Stop it,” or, “I don’t want it,” or, “Close the door.” It really progressed into, when he’s waking up from nap, he’s singing, “Jesus loves me.” He’s singing, “God is so good. He’s so good to …” and he’ll put his name in the place of the world-

Lynette Ezell: Oh, that’s beautiful.

Micah Maddox: I’m like, “Man, you know what?” They … the statistics are staggering with trauma and how it affects children long term, but I’m learning that as we are impressing upon a child the name of Jesus-

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Micah Maddox: I’m seeing that, “You know what? That is in his little mind and that is being pressed in his little heart day after day after day as I rock and sing and rock and sing and rock and sing with him.” I believe, and I’m claiming and I’m praying that the name of Jesus will be impressed on his heart for years to come, regardless of his future.

Lynette Ezell: That is just beautiful. I know we mentioned earlier you guys are in leadership, you travel some. You do have to pull back and you were just saying, “I rock and sing, and I rock and sing.” That takes time.

Tera Melber: It does.

Lynette Ezell: I believe the Lord, I just think that he replenishes that.

Tera Melber: Yes.

Micah Maddox: Yeah. He does. I have the question asked of me a lot, “What about your biological kids?” Because if you were to see us, our family, in public, our little one takes a lot of attention, a lot. So, “What about your biological kids? How could you still tend to their needs? Are you taking away from them?” God has shown me, we’re not taking away anything from them. We are adding value-

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Micah Maddox: To their lives. By showing them life, one, is not all about us.

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Micah Maddox: It’s about the kingdom. It’s about Jesus and it’s about loving others. We … it does take a lot of time. It does take a lot of extra effort and determination. That’s why, in the beginning, I said, “You gotta be on the same page with your spouse.” You gotta be together in this ’cause there will be days that you look at each other and think, “What are we doing?”

Tera Melber: “Why did we do this?”

Lynette Ezell: Exactly. “Are we gonna survive?”

Micah Maddox: “Are we gonna survive?”

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Micah Maddox: That’s what my husband … he’ll always say, “We’re gonna make it.”

Lynette Ezell: Yes. Yes.

Micah Maddox: “We’re gonna make it. We are.” We have and I believe that we will.

Lynette Ezell: Hey, Micah. I know you get speaking to ladies lives quite a bit, but just as we’re ending this podcast today and we so appreciate you sharing your story, but what would you say to a family that’s maybe in leadership or they’re just really busy serving their community, supporting their church, ministering to their neighbors? What would you say to a family that really feels led to do this but they just keep holding back because they’re just too busy? What would you say to them?

Micah Maddox: If they will be obedient to the call of God on their lives for foster care, I believe that God will expand their-

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Micah Maddox: Ministry in ways they never dreamed or imagined. You can’t see it on the other side. You can’t see it before you take that step-

Lynette Ezell: Yep. That’s right.

Micah Maddox: The Lord is a light unto my path-

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Micah Maddox: And a lamp. A lamp doesn’t light up the whole street, right?

Tera Melber: Just one step at a time.

Micah Maddox: One step at a time. I would say, “Take that next step. Take the classes. Go ahead. Get certified. Then see.” We were certified in January. We didn’t get a child until May. It’s not like, “Oh, we’re gonna do this and tomorrow we’re gonna have a house full of children and pulling our hair out.” I would say, “Take the first step and when God’s timing is right, you’ll get that phone call and you’ll get that child.” I lean on my husband a lot for wisdom and for leadership. He’s been able to set some boundaries in our family and in our life. Sometimes we’ve gotten a call and we’ve had to say, “No.”

Tera Melber: Right.

Micah Maddox: We’ve had to say, “This isn’t the right time,” or, “This isn’t right for our family.” Tune into the voice of God and lean on your husband’s wisdom as he’s following God and you’re following God together. I believe that God will expand your ministry.

Lynette Ezell: Oh, thank you, Micah. That’s a great place to stop right there. If you want more information about Micah, I love the things you write on Instagram and on your website. You’re very raw. You’re very honest. It’s always encouraging me, but it’s micahmaddox.com. We’ll have that in the show notes. Thanks so much for your time today.

Tera Melber: It was a pleasure to meet you and get to talk to you and hear your story, Micah. Thanks so much.

Micah Maddox: Thank y’all so much for having me.

Announcer: You have been listening to the Adopting and Fostering Home, a resource of the North American Mission Board. For more information about today’s podcast and other relevant resources, visit sendrelief.org.

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