AP NEWS

Raising Jonah: Hastings’ open their hearts and home

November 25, 2017 GMT

Bob and Traci Hastings of Gering became foster parents in 2005. They never expected that fostering would lead to adoption for their family.

Bob and Traci were both working at schools in Norfolk when they realized God was calling them to open their home to children in need.

“After quite a bit of interaction with health and human services and kids who were in the foster care system we talked always, ‘Oh, if we could just bring that kid home,’ kind of thing,” Bob said. “We finally both talked about it enough that we decided we needed to put our money where our mouth was, so we decided to become foster parents.”

The Hastings family fostered several kids from babies to elementary ages.

“We continued working with different kids. Then we had the opportunity to have Jonah come with us,” Bob said. “He came to us when he was about six weeks old. He stayed with us ever since.”

Ten-year-old Jonah Hastings has captured the hearts of his parents and siblings since May 2, 2007, the day they took him in.

“It took about two years for the whole process, almost to the day, to work through until we were finally able to adopt him,” Bob said. “Two years and four days.”

Bob explained the adoption is an open adoption, which means Jonah and his biological mother still have the opportunity to know and contact each other.

“We knew that someday there might be a reason that either Jonah would want to reconnect or she would want to reconnect,” he said. “We never wanted to close that door and so that’s always out there, but we haven’t had any contact with her really since before the adoption happened.”

Bob explained how they made the transition from just fostering to adoption.

“We had a couple of babies that came to live with us for a while and one in particular that was with us for six months or even longer,” he said. “Even though we knew the right thing for her was to go back to her birth family, it was hard and tough. I think we just kind of developed the idea that if that opportunity ever became available we would definitely strongly consider adopting.”

Bob first started thinking about adoption when friends completed international adoptions through church.

“That was probably what initially started to plant the seed in my mind and my heart,” Bob said. “And then we just talked about it off and on for a long time.”

Traci said she knew shortly after meeting Jonah they were supposed to adopt him.

“We knew fairly quickly this was more than fostering,” Traci said smiling at Jonah. “Jonah’s biological mother had been involved in the foster care system as well and it did not look like she would be able to do the things that health and human services wanted her to do to get him back.”

Jonah bragged about getting two birthday celebrations each year.

“We celebrate his birthday obviously, but we also usually celebrate ‘Gotcha Day,’ too,” Bob said.

Traci explained how “Gotcha Day” celebrations are popular with adoptive families.

“My sister-in-law heard about somebody on one of the Christian radio stations calling it ‘Gotcha Day’ and that being how they always remember,” she said. “So, we always call it his ‘Gotcha Day,’ gotcha forever.”

Traci said she often jokes with Jonah saying she and Bob chose him, whereas they got stuck with their biological children Jon and Jenna.

Even though Jonah was “chosen,” it isn’t always easy to be an adoptee.

“Honestly, one of the very hard things is knowing that I have other family members out there that I don’t even know about,” Jonah said.

He said he wants to meet them one day. But he also has a favorite thing about his family.

“We are Christians and I know that with this family, no matter what, God will be with us through whatever troubles we have,” Jonah said. “I’m really lucky to be adopted because if my mom and dad didn’t adopt me, I could be in foster care or with a really bad family.”

Jonah said he takes after his dad and is a bit of jokester. He enjoys sneaking up on his mom and scaring her.

“Every single day when I wake up, I know that I’m with a family I love and that loves me and will take care of me no matter what,” Jonah said.