From 1 child to 6 overnight: how this growing family was determined to stay together

If you have ever found yourself wondering if the popular online dating sites work, question no more. Nicole and Bruce Barlow are a true testament that if you’re willing to take the time to fill out the cumbersome questionnaires, you may find the love of your life.

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This couple didn’t only meet online; they also feel in love very quickly. After only one month of dating, they got engaged. One month after the engagement, this passionate couple was married.

Bruce explained that although it was fast, it truly was meant to be.

“We met at a coffee shop. I was watching her walk up through the window, and I was immediately overwhelmed, in a good way. In that moment, I knew that she could be the one. I didn’t believe in love at first sight before I met Nicole. We talked for hours, and it just felt so natural. I couldn’t believe that I had truly met the perfect woman. I knew I had to move fast so she couldn’t get away.”

Their life started together, and they were originally thrilled to be a happy family of three; Nicole’s son quickly bonded with Bruce. Although they were a happy family unit, there was something missing.

Nicole was helping lead an after-school Bible study for elementary school children when her will was made clear.

“I was volunteering with elementary school children, and one of my students was a foster child. Once you see the faces that are in the foster system, once you see their hearts, it’s much harder to turn your back on them.”

After the foster system was placed on Nicole’s and Bruce’s hearts, there was only one thing they could do. The couple decided to step up and open their home to children in need. Nicole explained that everything in their life moves fast, so it was no surprise that the process of getting children in their home took no time at all.

“We went to an informational meeting one weekend. The next weekend, we went to a training class, and the next weekend, we had children in our home. Our first placement was two wonderful boys who stayed with us for two and a half years.”

As Bruce and Nicole loved on these children, they were also aware that the boys would eventually go back to their biological family. The couple loved the boys’ family, but after so much time together, it was a very difficult goodbye.

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Bruce explained that although the pain was so real and so raw, it was necessary.

“We loved those boys; we still love those boys. Them and their family will forever be a part of our family, but knowing they wouldn’t be living with us anymore was hard. It’s still hard not waking up to them every morning. The thing is though, it’s supposed to be hard, you’re supposed be feel grief and pain. If you don’t hurt, then you haven’t put your whole heart into these children.”

When the family became a party of three, Nicole and Bruce knew they needed to open up their home once again to children in need. While preparing their home for their next placement, the couple took part in a program, respite care, where they would help other foster families.

“When you’re a foster parent and you want to get away for a weekend, you have to place the children with an approved caregiver. We would help other families that would go out of town. Sometimes we would keep children for a week, other times just a weekend. In the process of helping other families, we ended up meeting a few of our small children.”

Those small children they watched were placed up for adoption. Their parents’ rights were terminated, and they needed to be placed in a loving home as soon as possible.

Nicole and Bruce knew that God was speaking very loudly to them in regards to this family. Nicole recalled praying and asking for guidance in their situation.

“I prayed, and I just asked God to give me guidance. There were five children, five siblings, that needed a home. We had the room and the means to keep this family together, and eventually it was made very clear that these kids were the missing pieces to our crazy puzzle.”

This family of three quickly expanded to a family of eight. Although the process was fast, it was far from easy. Nicole explained that foster to adoption isn’t what it looks like in the movies; it’s not always a feel-good, magical experience.

“To be honest, not all of our children wanted to be adopted. We had five children of varying ages coming into our home. There has been a lot of butting of heads and a lot of arguments, but I think it’s all worth it. These kids know that no matter how much they push and how much they fight, at the end of the day, we will love them unconditionally. They are forever a part of our family, and we love them more than they will ever know.”

This experience has not only bonded their family, but it has also strengthened Nicole and Bruce’s relationship. The foster care and adoption process has taught this couple to love when they don’t feel like loving, and stand by one another when they feel like walking away. Nicole explained that their family is forever.

“We are in this for the long run, in all aspects. I love my children, and I love my husband more than my own life. And I will say, neither one of us wants to be left alone with six children! We need each other!”

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