Meet Jess! Talk about an inspiration. She certainly has been one to me. I had been following Jess on Instagram for awhile and followed along in her journey through foster care and adoption. Timing was almost too perfect in Tim and I venturing through our own (secret at the time) journey of what would soon to be our own future foster care story. Jess so willingly met me for coffee early on in our process and allowed me to ask her open and honest questions about her experience in foster care, and she openly and honestly gave me answers. Answers so real and raw and good that I walked away knowing that we were making the right decision in moving forward with this process. Jess’s story is beautiful, and continues to be so. She’s a mom who has experienced infertility, pregnancy, foster care, adoption, and she’s now got another little foster love in her home and is pregnant with another baby on the way. What a story she has to tell. She is an inspiration to me, and I love following along as she is raising these little ones, each with stories of their own. The pictures of her home are also so lovely! Her words are encouraging, and she brings me hope in knowing that we, too, can do this. Read more about her inspiring story below!
Name: Jess Stamm
Currently Located: Belleville, IL
Photo by Clary Pfeiffer Photography
Describe yourself in 3 words:
genuine, compassionate, introvert
Describe your lifestyle or personal brand and what you do:
I’m currently a stay at home mom to 3 boys (Shiloh is 3, Cedar is almost 2, and our foster son M is 7 months) and also pregnant with our 4th! My life is pretty full in the day to day of caring for my family, but I’m also passionate about child development, education, and foster care.
What led you to this season of life that you are currently in?
Being a full time stay at home mom is a relatively new season for me. For the past six years I have worked part-time at our church directing family ministry. I just recently felt called to step away from that job at the end of June to pursue some new dreams and then we ended up with a new foster babe and also pregnant. So this season for me has been very much about resting in the day to day and figuring out how to use my voice and passions while also being present with my three little ones.
Did you know that this is where you’d always thought you’d be in life?
Not at all! I’ve always had a passion for caring for children but the ways that have played out in my life have been unexpected! I never really thought I’d be a foster parent! I was definitely one of those people that proclaimed “I’d get way too attached” and not be able to “give them back.” But the more I learned and the more my eyes were opened to the need, my heart just totally changed. I saw how fundamentally important it was for a child to have a safe place, to experience attachment and love, and to heal from trauma. We began to view foster care not just as a way to gain children for our family, but as a way to give our family for a child. To walk alongside a family experiencing deep brokenness and fight with them for healing and reconciliation.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a funny question because my life is so different than I would have imagined five years ago. 😉 I’m also not really a planner or a fan of long term thinking.. ha! (Maybe that comes in handy with the whole foster care thing. 😉 ) But in five years I’d hope to still be in our home with maybe a couple more bathroom renovations completed. 😉 I’d also love to be more involved in the education system in our area in some shape or form…maybe even starting a school someday!
What has been a dream that you have had since you were a little girl?
It’s been a long journey for me to become self aware and confident enough in my own skin to dream big dreams. However, the one thing I knew I always wanted even as a child was to be a mom. My journey to motherhood looks nothing like I expected but I’m so thankful for the children God has entrusted to me and for the chance to be their mom. Nothing has shaped me more than becoming a mother.
In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?
This was honestly a hard question for me to answer, at first. It can be difficult to feel especially “inspiring” as a stay at home mom. I’m not running a business and I don’t have a huge platform. There’s some big dreams that I do have that have taken a back seat for the moment to caring for three little ones. But here’s what I hope any woman would look at my life and find inspiring — there’s so much beauty and value in every season. Your life doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, or even necessarily how you always imagined it would. Your purpose doesn’t begin when you arrive at a certain destination. Your purpose is inside you now, and in this season, it’s just up to you to find the outlets. How can you use your voice today? What do you have to say that only you can say? How can you add a moment here and there in your day to day to pursue your passion? You can’t do and be everything all at once, but there is something you have to offer the world today.
Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
Hands down, my husband. He is always pushing his bounds creatively, always dreaming big, and always inspiring others towards growth as well. He has always been my biggest cheerleader and the first to call out my talents and passions and push me to pursue my goals. He sees things in me that I don’t always see myself, and has just been so amazing at affirming and encouraging me.
If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?
The first thing that came to my mind is coffee with Brené Brown! Her books have been so impactful in my life and I think she just has such a beautiful way of seeing the world and the people in it.
What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)?
I’ve been loving The Next Right Thing Podcast with Emily Freeman. It’s been such an encouragement to me especially in this season of transition!
I’m currently reading Everybody Always by Bob Goff. The way he sees and loves people is so inspiring.
I’m loving following Morgan Harper Nichols on Instagram. She has the most beautiful way with art and words!
I hope you feel as inspired as I do after reading about Jess and her family and her family’s story!
I now interrupt my regularly scheduled inspiring women posts to share a bit of a life update with you.
1. to promote the growth or development of; further; encourage
2. to bring up or raise
3. to care for or cherish
The last few months for us have looked a bit different than our norm – filled with night classes not pertaining to graduate school, with home studies and new visitors, with more paperwork than was necessary to buy our first house and with learning even more about each other than I thought possible – as we prepare to open our home to foster care and little ones in our community who need a safe space for awhile. I’ve never felt so at ease with the unknown and the unexpected (hello Type-A personality), but somehow, I know we’re exactly where we need to be.
Last week we completed all of the training classes, and if all goes according to plan (what plan!? ha!), we should be fully licensed by next month. But in the meantime, we continue to pray for what God has in store in hopes that he brings children into our home who need us to nurture and love on them in this season. And we continue to wait (and finish up all of our aforementioned paperwork 😉 ).
I say all this now in hopes of sharing this journey with others who may be exploring foster care too. We finally feel that we are at a place where we can be more open about our next steps. While there are so many resources out there (and SO many wonderful people I’ve found within the foster care community – especially thanks to social media), it took us months to find the right resources for us. I’ve been eager to share our journey with you, and while I won’t be sharing everything because there is much that is not for me to share (these stories are those of the kiddos, after all), I do want to be able to share things that will help to educate others as the need is great. Here’s to a new season and the next chapter in our journey. We’ve still got a few more things to be checked off of our list within the coming weeks, but we’re getting close.
“Keep doing the next thing even if the next thing is to eagerly wait for what’s to come…If you expect the unexpected, you’ll be just fine.” -Jason Johnson