by Olivia Martin
Special to The Leaven
LENEXA — They’re not your average couple.
From the day they met, Tim and Stacey Chik, parishioners of Holy Trinity Parish here, knew they wanted to adopt children. And they knew they wanted a big family.
But provide foster care? It took growing into.
“There was something about it that seemed like a more bold ‘yes,’” said Stacey. “We really felt like we needed to say ‘yes,’ that we needed to give whatever child was brought to us a home and a family, safety and love, for whatever season they were brought to us. It just felt like what being pro-life was all about for us.”
And little did they know that thanks to that “yes” to foster care, their family was about to triple in size in a matter of a few years.
Adoption had always been close to the Chiks’ hearts. For Stacey, she has seen how that desire has been influenced by her family history.
“My own father was adopted,” she said. “He was adopted into a family that ended up being a really bad situation. It was quite damaging to him, so it wasn’t until years later that I have kind of seen how in some ways that has formed my own desire to live the Gospel calling [to care for orphans].”
After Tim and Stacey got married, they were blessed with two biological children born 11 months apart: Emma and Timmy. However, the Chiks experienced secondary infertility after their births.
And six miscarriages.
“In that season, it’s easy to become cold or closed or shut down,” said Stacey. But instead, they “took solace in our faith and continued to feel like this wasn’t the end of our story,” she said.
The Chiks grieved their lost children and did the work of healing in the years following — and because of this work, they found themselves more open and able to care for children not biologically their own.
That’s when they began to look seriously into adoption.
Around 2013, the Chiks enrolled in a 13-week adoption class through KVC (Kaw Valley Center) in Olathe, officially beginning their adoption journey.
“About halfway through the classes, one of the things that got laid on my heart was . . . I didn’t feel like we were supposed to do this just for adopting,” said Stacey. “I thought we were supposed to do this for foster care.
“That scared me, because we already had two biological children and I wasn’t sure we wanted to put them through having to say goodbye [to potential foster siblings].”
So, Stacey kept the pull toward fostering quietly in her heart, thinking it wasn’t meant to be.
Then, a month later, as she and Tim were talking after an adoption class, he told her something unexpected.
He said he felt they should do foster care, not just adoption.
“I remember my jaw just dropped open!” said Stacey.
For Tim, fostering has immensely impacted his approach as a father — tangibly and spiritually.
“I never really thought about the fact that Jesus was a foster kid, but he was,” said Tim. “I really identified with [Saint] Joseph, that he wasn’t biologically related to Jesus but he was absolutely his dad.”
Adoption to fostering to adoption
It took until 2015 for the Chiks to complete the classes, background checks and home checks necessary to actually become foster parents.
And in November 2015, they were matched with their first foster children: a little boy and his sister who were 2 and 4 years old at the time.
“I asked the case worker how long they would be with us,” said Stacey. “We were expecting a revolving door of children. It’s been the opposite of that for our family.
“We’ve only had a total of four foster children.”
And in February 2016, three months after their first foster child placement, the Chiks welcomed another sibling pair into their home — two little girls.
“[They] had been in foster care for quite some time,” said Stacey, “and the older of the two had been in foster care most of her life.
“She had already been in five foster homes.”
But it hasn’t been simple.
“Those first six weeks were chaotic; they were hard, and they were messy,” said Stacey. “No matter how bad it was for them, there is something intrinsic in every single human heart that wants to just be with and love and forgive a biological family. For [the kids], they were in a state of incredible trauma because they’d been taken away from their parents.
“Separating families is traumatic and should only be done in the gravest situations.”
The kids eventually adapted and now fit seamlessly into the Chik family.
And all four of those children have now become Chiks.
“We adopted Gracelyn and Ezekiel in November of 2018 . . . on National Adoption Day,” said Stacey. “It was really a beautiful day.”
And they adopted the two girls, Annalise and Isabella, in late February of this year. Right before the shutdown due to COVID-19.
“We are just thankful for the timing,” said Stacey. “If the adoption had been scheduled just a few weeks later, we wouldn’t have been able to pack the courtroom and celebrate our girls the way we wanted to.”
Friends and family caravanned from the courtroom in Johnson County to Holy Trinity to witness their spiritual adoption as well. They were baptized by Deacon Dana Nearmyer. It was a remarkable day.
“In 2018, we gave birth to our youngest son, Elijah. So, yep, seven children now! Truly we can’t believe the way our family has grown. We are so grateful for the lives God has entrusted to us,” said Stacey.
Though they are obviously worthy actions, fostering and adoption are not to be taken lightly.
“Foster care is very difficult,” said Tim. “In some respects, I’m a little more saddened by the world because you see some of those things and hear some of those stories and instead of them being far away, they’re much closer.”
“We need to be mindful that the families who are stepping into this are stepping into the arena in a really significant way,” she said.
They have even seen families fall apart due to the challenges of fostering.
“Families really have to evaluate if foster care and adoption [are for them],” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. “Part of what we as a church can do . . . is help prepare people to understand what to expect by being a foster parent or adopting and help to make sure it’s good for the child and the whole family.”
But success is possible — and the Chiks are proof.
“If you’re able to be grounded in community, in your faith and prayer and have your spouse on the same page,” said Stacey, “then you can weather the storm.
“It is very intense.”
All things for good
And through everything, even their miscarriages, the Chiks have seen how God really does bring all things together for good.
“If we had not lost those babies, I’m sure the ‘yes’ still would have come to foster and adopt,” said Stacey. “But the timing would have been such so that it wouldn’t have been these four kids.
“And I truly believe that these specific four souls were the ones that were supposed to be in our family.”
Furthermore, the miscarriages taught them on intellectual, spiritual and emotional levels that all children are on loan from God, said Stacey.
“It was a huge paradigm shift for us mentally, and we are able [now] to give and love and parent with depth and with abandon because we know there was no reason to hold anything back because there is no guarantee for anybody,” she said.
One of the greatest joys the Chiks have in relation to their foster children is seeing how much they love the faith.
“They had no background in any religious formation [when they came to us],” said Stacey.
But that has changed greatly.
“Church is their favorite thing,” she said.
For Kelley Basta, a parishioner of Holy Spirit Parish in St. Louis, witnessing the growth and life emerge from the Chiks fostering and adoption has been inspiring.
“My husband and I are Zeke’s godparents,” said Basta, “and to have the privilege . . . to be able to pray for him [is great].
“[Stacey and Tim] are a constant reminder to me about how important it is to celebrate the little things.”
Ultimately, fostering and adopting have made the Chik family whole.
“People say how lucky the children we adopted are to have our family,” said Stacey, “but the fact of the matter is that we are the lucky ones.
“They have brought graces and healing, joy and growth for all of us. We are all blessed to be a family.”