A few months back, Maria shared her story for #clickforhope. Maria received a free photo shoot by Jazi and her story was featured on www.jaziphoto.com...
The beautiful, talented and down to earth Jazi was so moved by Maria's story, she asked if she could give us both a free photo shoot. I was so thankful for the opportunity! It was the first time Maria was really able to share her story and journey into our family...
Here is Maria's story and journey and perspective...here is our story...
At the age of two I was taken away from my biological mother because of my brother, who was 14, molested me and for my mom being in prostitution at the time. So me and all my 12 brothers and sisters got taken away from my mom.
DCFS separated us and put us in different foster homes. Each foster child has a goal, either to get adopted or be independent. Independent means that once you turn 18, DCFS puts you in this program called "Independent living" and they give you a thousand dollars every month and tell you to go be an adult without help or resources. Somehow the government decided that I would be in the independent program, so from the age of 2 to 18, I was in foster care and I wouldn’t be able to get adopted, because that wasn’t my “goal”. I was placed in multiple foster homes. Every foster home was very physically and verbally abusive, that’s why I moved around so much. Once you get older, it’s harder to stay in a foster home because the families want babies with no problems and I guess I had a lot of issues. Nothing was stable. I was constantly getting rejected by families and feeling alone. I became very angry and started hating everyone, especially myself and I hated my life. I had no friends at school because I would move a lot and that meant I had to transfer a lot. I wouldn’t put any effort in my academics because of moving so much. I thought why even try if I’m not going to be here for long and that’s how it was. I would be in one school for a week and then transfer to the next. Once I entered high school, it was the worst. They would just pass me because I was in foster care. It actually messed me up because I never really learned to even write a paper.
Things began to turn around a little for me as I entered my senior year. I got a new case worker because I was about to turn 18. I was getting ready to transfer into the independent living program. I’ll never forget my caseworkers named Gloria— she was Christian and on her own time she told me about God. She invited me to church and started taking me to the youth group at her church and by the third time of me going to youth group, I asked Jesus to come live in my heart and to forgive me from my sins. Ever since then, my life has never been the same. I graduated high school as a Christian, loving Jesus, but I was afraid, because I was entering into “adulthood,” and getting ready to move on my own and be independent.
Once I moved out, I had no help. My old caseworker Gloria had been let go, so I had nobody and I remember crying in my first apartment saying, “Father I need you to become so real to me, help me please! I’m afraid of being alone, please help me, Jesus.” It was then, I got a phone call from one of my friend's mom and asked if I wanted to go to church with her and of course I said ‘yes’. I started going to a small church called, Grace and Peace Community Church. Although it was small, it had a great impact on my life. That’s when I started learning so much more about God, and the more I started reading His word, the more I was falling in love with Jesus.
Although it might sound strange to some, one of the things I would do a lot to make Jesus real in my life is I would go on dates with Jesus. I would get all dressed up and go to a fancy restaurant and ask for a table for 2. The waiter would tell me “you look nice, are you waiting for your date to arrive?” and I would say “My date is already here at the table sitting with me” (lol the look on his face was priceless). I could say that Jesus became so real. He was my everything and still is...Even though I felt alone physically, spiritually I felt so beautiful, loved and accepted. My companionship with Him was very strong. There was a woman from the church I attended who came up to me and said, "You know, you should start praying for your husband because in the word in Psalm 37:4 it says 'Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire.'" I went home after service and I prayed to the Lord. I thought, well if you will give me my heart’s desire than I want parents and that started the journey of me praying for my parents.
Once I turned 19 I met a woman named Polly (she attended at Grace and Peace as well) and she was part of BreakDown. This peer mentoring program sought to break down society lies of love, sex and relationship through the performing arts. Well, she was looking for girls and guys who knew how to dance, sing, act or do spoken word. Since, I would sing and dance at my church, she asked me if I would like to be part of BreakDown. I said “yes I would love too.” I was in this group for 5 years and that’s where I met my leaders, Melody who then married her husband CD. They were the leaders for a season and then they left because they felt God was calling them to serve at their church. Around the time they left, I was like 22 to 23 and I was still faithfully praying for my parents. I would remember going on dates and telling Jesus, "When is it going to happen." He said, "If I don’t give you parents, Maria, am I not enough?" I started to cry and I said, "Yes you are." He said, "Surrender that desire and trust me, I know what’s best." After that talk with Jesus I stopped praying for my parents and started putting my trust in Him even more and that was hard. Many nights I would cry myself to sleep thinking, “What is my purpose, who am I?”
At 24, still nothing’s changed, everything was still the same, going to church, loving God and serving at my church, & still part of BreakDown. But the number of people on our team started to dwindle. Every year we would have retreats for every BreakDown team in the world and we would gather and get equipped and encouraged. It would be great like one big happy family reunion. For the team in Chicago, this was our last retreat. So Melody contacted everyone on the team to see who wanted to go and I was the only one from my team that went. It was fun, it was just me, Melody and her new born baby Jael. We all stayed in the same hotel room and with a curious look on Melody’s face she asked me “What’s your story, Maria?" I shared my entire story with her and then she got really emotional…
So here I am on this retreat with my daughter Jael and Maria and we’re just on a break during the retreat and I sense God say to my heart, “Ask Maria her story.” I thought to myself, I know her story. As I pondered what her story was, I realized I actually didn’t know her story… I ask, “Maria, what’s your story? Tell me everything.” What happened after that, I cannot explain. She began to share her story...In a nutshell I heard, “Well, I am a twin and I was taken from my mom at the age of two…I have been in 16 homes from the age of 2 to 18…I was physically and verbally abused…I never really had my own room…When I finally got an apartment at 18, my roommate messed with my finances…I’m living with a friend right now.”
My jaw dropped, my heart was gripped. I couldn't believe all she had been through and I said to myself, goodness this beauty needs a home, she needs a mom. And I know the gentle whisper of my Lord…and He said, “Yes, she needs a mom. You be her mom.” I quickly shut that idea down, with “Lord I am way too young. I can’t be her mom!” But there was a deep conviction and heaviness on my heart that I knew wouldn’t lift until I obeyed…I couldn’t stand the heaviness anymore, I stepped out in faith and said, “Maria, I know this sounds crazy, but wouldn’t it be cool if God allowed me to be a mother to you?” To my surprise, Maria giggled and began to shout, “REALLY? I WOULD LOVE THAT!” Although a 24 year old girl was in front of me, it was as if, I saw a 12 year old girl inside filled with hope and joy. Whew…I thought, ok God if this is you, you’re gonna have to give me lots of confirmation…and HE did just that.
Around this time, CD and I had seen the Blind Side movie and that tore us apart and gave us a perspective of really opening your heart and home to someone. When I got home and shared with CD the details of Maria’s life and what I believed God was leading us to, I broke out into tears. I was so broken for her. I hurt at the thought that she never had a room to call her own. She had never ate a dinner table with family. She didn’t have Christmas celebrations like I did with my parents. My dear husband took a deep breathe in as he breathed in the reality of what this would mean and look like…and said, “Well, I knew we’d adopt. I just never thought we’d adopt an adult.” We chuckled and laughed, and I laughed through my tears thinking, “Oh man, what are we thinking…’
As I prayed and waited for confirmation…I got them a lot faster than I anticipated.
While I was at work, I shared with my best friend what I believed God may have been leading us to do and she says, “Oh wow, then during lunch, you need to hear this sermon.” That noon as I sat in front of her laptop to hear a sermon by a woman I hadn’t heard yet, named Lisa Bevere. The sermon was called, “Are you my mother?” I already knew I was in trouble and thought, “You gotta be kidding.”
She starts the message reading the children storybook called, “Are you my mother?” About this journey for a little chick who’s seemed to have lost his mom and begins going up to random animals asking, “Are you my mother?”
Until finally her momma notices her little chick and they reunite and go back home. Lisa begins to look at the crowd and it felt like she was speaking directly to me, “There are women in this generation who are motherless and they are looking, searching and asking, ‘Are you my mother?’ Will you answer that call? God is raising up mothers for this generation. Not mentors, no mothers. A mentor reproduces herself in another young woman, but a mother, lays down her life for her daughter.” That was it…I was messed up, in a good way…I knew God was speaking…
That Sunday we had a missionary come share at our church. He began to share a story about how he would take kids out of the slums where he served to go feed them by buying a pizza and eating out with them. But one day, the LORD challenged him and said, “Get the pizza and go eat the pizza with them in the slums.” When he did that, it did something for them and for him. He felt really connected to them and saw things from their perspective. The missionary then began to say, “Sometimes God will have you get someone out of the pit they are in, but then there are times when God will have you get in the pit with them and help them out.” Again I can’t explain it, but I was completely gripped and convicted and knew what God was saying…I went up to the front for the altar call for prayer and my husband grabbed my hand and says, “We need to open our home to Maria.” At that moment as we bowed our head in surrender and obedience, we make space in our hearts and home for Maria.
So, the retreat was over, I went back home and Melody went back home to her family and everything was back to normal. A woman from my church asked me if I wanted to go to a trip with her daughter to Puerto Rico (at the time I use to mentor her daughter) so I said, "Sure I’ll go." We went to Puerto Rico and we had a great time. It was my first time ever going and by the third day being there, I received a phone call from CD, Melody’s husband, which was so weird, because I never really talked to him by phone. We talked on the phone and he told me they had been praying for me. I was like okay, that’s nice, thanks and then he asked me a question and said, “Maria you been on my heart and I wanted to ask you a question, but I didn’t want to creep you. Would you like to be a part of our family? Would you allow me to be a dad to you? If you say yes, I would want you to come home and live with us? I believe the LORD wants to restore everything that the enemy has stolen.” I felt like time stopped, I couldn’t believe that this was happening; my heart’s desire was to have parents and GOD ANSWERED.
I was screaming all over the house and it was raining outside, so I took my friend out with me. I told her the Lord has given me parents and we started dancing in the rain! That was the best day of my life. I couldn’t believe it. I said to myself, “I’m actually going to be part of a family that is my own.” On September 25, 2010 I became a Fabien…I now on my own go by the name Maria Isabella Fabien Salgado. My life now has never been the same. As time progressed the reality that they were my parents really became real. I even asked them “Can I call you mom and dad?” They encouraged me to call them “Mom and Dad” if and only when I felt led by the LORD. God has used my Dad CD to help heal me in areas of my life I didn’t know were so broken.
I saw in my Dad CD, a father that protected me. It helped heal me from so many wounds of what men have done to me in the past when I was in foster care. Although the journey of learning to be in a family was not easy at all, I stuck to the process. God used my Mom Melody and Dad to help me finally have a safe space to heal. Now four years in, I can say, the wounds have been healed and all the enemy stole from me mentally and emotionally has been restored. God truly restored the years that the locust has eaten. Now I love going out and sharing my story because there is such freedom in sharing our story.
My favorite verse is Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
If I could speak to someone who has a similar story, I want you to know, there is hope! You were created with purpose, and you are called for greatness. There are great people out there that can be there for you, who will love you in the midst of the chaos and hurt. It may be a church family or your church community that will love you back to wholeness. I have seen that, it's the choices that we make that will determine your future.
There are so many stories within this story of our four year journey as a family…but in a nutshell that is our story. It has not been easy at all. There were many times we wanted to give up. There were many painful times, but there were so many more beautiful times. Love is a risk and you will get hurt at times...but it's worth it.
Maria within her time with us, has been able to have her own room, buy her own bedroom furniture, experience eating frequently at the dinner table with her family, experience her first family photo and spend all the holidays with now lots of family. :)
I am thankful for the blessing of being Maria's mom. His grace is sufficient. I don’t regret it at all. When I see my daughter Maria now and think back to how she use to be, I stand in AWE of God. Maria went from being this insecure, bound, scared, girl who hid her face behind her hair to NOW being a confident in Christ, delivered, restored, bold, beautiful young woman who now leads worship at church.
I know God is writing a beautiful story for Maria and we’re blessed to be a part of it. For truly whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Jesus. CD and I have learned many countless valuable lessons through love and obedience. We can truly understand the heart of God for the fatherless and are seeing His heart for adoption. He is the Father to the Fatherless and we are His hands and feet on the earth. We can do nothing without His love.
Many times people know God is leading them to do something, but they don’t want to make the adjustments for fear of what it will cost them. Oh Beloved, don’t allow the cost to scare you, for He is Worthy of it all; and it’s when you love God and are motivated by love to obey and make those adjustments, that my friend is when you will truly experience God.
Crazy in Love with HIM,