on foster care

"A child born to another woman calls me Mom. The depth of the tragedy and magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me". - Jody Landers

When I wrote my last post, I knew that I'd need to to a follow up about foster care to make a few things clear. The timeline format left very little room for some important explanations about what went in to our decision to become foster parents and I want to explore that a little more now.

First and foremost I want to say that when we chose to be foster parents, we were acknowledging a calling that we felt on our lives to become a part of the team that reunites families. The primary goal of foster care is always to keep families together, and we support that goal wholeheartedly. While we recognize that some of our kids might end up needing permanent homes and we are committed to providing that for them, we would never wish the loss of their first family on any child. It is most important to us to be a soft place for these kids to land when circumstances outside of their control launched their worlds into chaos, to create safe spaces for them to grieve and heal and return to their families stronger. Disclaimer over.

Foster care first came on our radar in 2010 while I was working at the Boy's and Girl's Club. We had families from all kinds of backgrounds and some of the kids were or had been in care. I was very ignorant about what foster care meant at the time and even more ignorant about the kinds of kids who ended up in care. I think I held some of the general preconceptions that most of us have about the unknown, that it's frightening and chaotic and dangerous. Of course, meeting the kids at our Club who were in care rearranged all of those preconceived ideas as is wont to happen when you shed some light on an aspect of life that was previously in the dark for you. I loved all of our kids at the Boys & Girls Club, but I especially loved the kids who had struggled through so much. Joe and I had talked about adoption being a part of our future off and on, but it was sort of this vague, out there, kind of idea. Then one day I said to him, "What about foster care?" And he cocked his head to one side, looked at me for a minute and said, "Yeah, I think we could do that." And so our foster parenting dreams were born.

We went on with life, hoping for Joe's pilot job to come through, hoping for a house that we would love, hoping to start a family soon, and the years passed. Foster care was still on our minds, but we were working on getting our other ducks in a row. About two and a half years ago, we finally felt ready to get serious about starting our family and we had to decide if we wanted to pursue foster care first or having a baby. We both agreed that we'd rather get some experience with home-grown kids and then return to the idea of foster care after a few years. As the months went by and we didn't get pregnant, we brought up foster care off and on wondering if we should change course. Then we got those first bad test results and it was a no brainer for us to redirect to pursuing our certification as foster parents.

It felt like FOREVER as we went through the home study and training, but in the end it was actually only about eight weeks (this is completely unheard of!) and after about 10 weeks we we're welcoming our first little boy into our home. It's crazy to look back and realize that what felt like so long was actually such a whirlwind. We have loved being foster parents. It is not easy, but we had a realistic mindset going in and we have two wonderful teams of professionals working for our boys. I can't say enough how much of a difference a good caseworker, lawyer, therapist, etc. makes when working with children who have a trauma history. Foster care is risky business, it's an adventure that comes with some very high costs from your time and emotions, but it's so worth it. I would encourage anyone who is leaning in that direction to research the foster care system in their state and get in touch with a state worker or agency. And just so it's easy for you, here's the link :)

Foster Care Information Websites by State