For Christmas 2012, my Mom got Theo and I a book on Amazon.
It is called Orphanology by Tony Merida.
Essentially, the book talks about how the Bible commands that we help orphans. The Bible does not saying that everyone needs to adopt or move to Africa and open an orphanage. We can also be supporters of those who help orphans. But no matter the way that we support orphans, we all should be.
Theo and I read the book and felt that deep heart stirring. You know the one. We immediately started researching international adoption. It only made sense, with our overseas connections. But the price tag blew us away and we decided we would not be going that direction.
So I researched domestic adoption. And that price tag also blew us away.
While doing all this research, I kept coming across foster care. Foster care is a word that is tossed around quite frequently. Everyone knows what foster care is! But do you really? Foster care is taking in children whose parents are not able to care for them for the time being. It is important to note that the goal of foster care is reunification with their biological parents. You care for the child(ren) for a time while their parents work through a plan to be able to take over their role as parents once again. Now, there are many cases where the parents never “get their act together” and the child is tossed around from foster home back to parents back to another foster home, etc, etc. There are also many instances in which custody is taken from the parents and the child is then a foster to adopt case. There is much legal jargon and so many more details on how fostering works, but that is the general gist of it. If you have specific questions, you can always, always email me.
The more I researched foster care, the more that tugging on the heartstrings happened. We knew we really wanted to do it, but we didn’t know when. Then one fine Saturday in late summer 2013, Theo and I went to the Beavercreek Popcorn Festival and happened upon the Greene County Children’s Services booth. There we filled out a card and tossed it into a basket. Two days later we received a foster parents application packet in the mail. We filled it out and sent it in, and so began the process of becoming foster parents. We met with a social worker who conducted our homestudy and we began taking the required 36 hours of pre-service classes.
And then we got pregnant (winter 2013). We told on ourselves right away, and they were very supportive of our decision to have biological children as well as fostering. We told them that we wanted to continue with our classes and the whole process, but that we would need to take it one day at a time once the baby arrived.
Well, arrive she did (summer 2014), and foster care went on the back burner. We slowly missed all our classes until we were waaaaay behind. Then we bought a house and moved, making the safety audit (part of the homestudy) invalid. Mentally, foster care went on the back burner as we adjusted to parenthood and moving into a renovation.
One day Spring 2015, we received a call, gently reminding us that we only had a few months to complete the process or all the work we did would be kaput and we would be starting from square one. Not only that, but the classes would expire and we would have to take the revised curriculum, which was actually more classes than the original curriculum we had started doing.
It was just the kick in the rear we needed, and I dusted off the pile of paperwork and started over again. And here we are now.
On Saturday, June 13th we completed our pre-service training. 36 hours of sitting in an uncomfortable chair and learning all about the fostering system, about foster children, about some of the difficulties that will enter our lives when we take on fostering, but about the deep need that these children have for families, and the great joy that it will bring us as we do this. 36 hours of hearing some of the worst horror stories and talking through issues of abuse and abandonment. But you know what it was for us? 36 hours of affirmation that we are doing the right thing. Each story we heard and each issue we discussed just made us more passionate about fostering. And we are SO grateful for all the people from our church who babysat Tera while we attended these classes.
We have our final homestudy and the safety audit on the 30th of the month. All our paperwork will be submitted, and then it will up to the county to process our application and send us our license. We are hoping to have our license by August of this year.
Q:I could never do that. You must be something special!
A: That is not a question, please do not say that in reference to becoming foster parents. We are humans, just like you are, and we have responded to God’s call in this area. Your question should be, “How can I help you as foster parents? What should my role in adoption be?”
It does not help to say this to foster parents, because it puts us up on a pedestal. We feel that everyone thinks we must be saints, and then the littlest mistake or difficulty seems like we are huge mess-ups. If you think I’m a saint, I can’t talk to you, so this comment is also very isolating. Please refer to this article that my friend and fellow foster Mom, Hannah, posted: http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2013/03/12/what-foster-parents-wish-other-people-knew/
Q: What ages are you going to foster?
A: At the end of pre-service training, they give us a sheet to fill out. We basically go through this child characteristics sheet and put “will consider” or “will not consider”. Going into the process, we thought we would be requesting 0-3 year olds. But as we went through classes, the age went up and up, and we are not willing to take 0-12 year olds. Which means that we are pretty much gaurenteed to get an older children. Once we are “experienced” foster parents, they may place infants with us, but infants don’t often get placed as first-time placements.
Q: Will you foster or adopt?
A: Yes. We are open to fostering with no intent of adoption, and we are also open to adopt a foster child placed in our care. Or adopt right off the bat.
Q: How does Tera feel about this?
A: She is 10 months old, and she has no clue. However, I am not in the least bit concerned about Tera adjusting to having older siblings. She LOVES being around other children. I don’t mean she likes other kids, I mean she is meant to have siblings. Lots of siblings…kids for her to watch and interact with. I’m sure it will be a huge adjustment to our little lady, but I think she will do just fine.
Q: How are you and Theo feeling about this?
A: Terrified. Excited. Nervous. Unsure.
Honestly, it is scary! There are so many different aspects of this, and every time I think about being a foster Mom I question my ability to do it. If I have days that I feel stressed with one child, how am I going to handle multiple children, and some with deep-set emotional issues? Will it break me? Will it cause harm to our marriage or to Tera? What if? What if????? I could sit here all day and type all the worries that enter my head in regards to foster care.
Honestly, we believe that God has called us to this and God will equip us through this. We covet your prayers. Pray for us, that we would be a family for the children that enter our home. Pray for the foster children that enter our home- pray for the specific ones. Pray for protection over Tera. Pray that our hearts will never be hardened to the “issues” that these children might carry on their tiny shoulders. Pray that we can make a difference.