Iowa, 2008

On January 12, much of Haiti was destroyed, thousands and thousands of Haitians killed.

On that same day, by coincidence, we happened to write on our blog about bitches giving back—about the ways we can all be philanthropists, even when we’re on a budget. Many of you wrote in, describing the bold and creative and compassionate ways you care for others.

In an effort to keep this message alive, we’ve decided to profile a woman who posted a message on our blog.

Amber Haufle transformed her personal challenges into tremendous strength—and then offered that strength to others.

But you should hear it in her own words.

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I got into foster care by complete accident.  In October of 2007 my parents, who are also licensed foster parents, received two little girls (ages 2 & 4) in their home for foster care. They were so beautiful and precious– I instantly fell in love with them.  At the time I was married and we were not interested in foster parenting; we hadn’t even begun our own family yet. But in April of 2008 it was clear these little girls were not going home to their parents and were going to be put up for adoption. Thought of never seeing them again broke our hearts, so we made the decision to adopt them.

In order to adopt children in foster care in Iowa you have to become licensed foster parents, so we quickly signed up for the next training classes and rushed to get in all our paperwork.  We started the classes in April with our hopes set high on adopting them.  In the middle of the classes, in June 2008, our home was devastated by the Iowa floods.  We had over 5 feet of water and sludge rip through our house.  We ended up having to move in with my parents while we rebuilt our house, which in turn meant we were now living with the girls. It was a time of mixed blessing. Even while we longed to be back in our own home while we fought with the city to allow us to rebuild, it was also such bliss to be able to be with the girls. While rebuilding, we completed our required courses for foster parenting, but we couldn’t receive our license since our home was not yet finished.

In November, as our 5-year wedding anniversary approached, we were getting ready to move back in. It was a time of mixed emotions…the parental rights of the girls were being terminated, our home was being finished, money was sparse, the holidays were approaching, and the walls of my parents’ house were closing in.  Picture it: 4 adults, 2 kids, 3 cats, and 4 dogs in a 900 square foot house with only 1 bathroom!  My parents were saints for taking us in!

We moved back into our home the week before Thanksgiving. It was wonderful to be home at last, but leaving the girls behind at my parents’ broke my heart.

Then, the day after Christmas, my husband told me he was thinking of divorce. On New Year’s Day he moved out.  I was shocked and devastated.  I never saw it coming!  There was a ton of work to be done on the house yet, money was so tight, and we just got approved for foster parenting.  My entire world was turned upside down!  But before worries about money, the social embarrassment of divorce, or anything else, my main concern was the adoption. How would this affect the adoption?  Of course I still wanted it!  I already considered them mine! They were already a piece of my heart and soul!  The next few months brought on more grief and despair. It was getting to the point of being downright comical.  Nothing was going right.  I had to get a new vehicle, my mom’s health deteriorated, I lost my job, and of course the finances were getting worse… As the bad luck kept pouring in, I just kept my eyes on the prize…my daughters!

Then finally luck began to change.  A couple of volunteer relief groups came and helped with the house, the divorce was finalized, I was licensed to be a single foster parent, and I got a new job. I vowed that through it all I would not only survive, but I would rise a stronger person who would “pay it forward.”

The following months continued to be a struggle. I persevered, and I feel like it is all finally behind me. Now as we “pay it forward,” I continue to do foster care, volunteer at many organizations, donate clothes and food to those in need, and  assist those still trying to rebuild from the flood.  My latest “pay it forward” accomplishment came from being nominated onto the board for Families Helping Families of Iowa, a non-profit volunteer group dedicated to assisting foster parents and the children in foster care.

As the adoption process continues and gets more complex, I absorb all that I have learned. I want to share the experience and knowledge of the process with others who can benefit. I want my girls to learn the importance of volunteering in the community. Each night at the dinner table we share at least one thing we were grateful for that day.  Sometimes it’s big things, some days I struggle to find one small thing, but I believe this not only teaches them to see the glass half-full, but helps them to appreciate a good thing even more.

Thank you for sharing your story, Amber. We wish you and your family much happiness!

Please continue to share your stories and we will continue to profile B’s who give back.