I was a young adult when I said I would never do foster care. I would never willingly be a foster parent, I said.
I had, however, always wanted to adopt at some point, but never considered joining the ranks within the foster system. It’s a broken place and I don’t belong there, I said to myself.
I’m going to do this a better and easier way if I adopt, I thought. And that was that. It never really crossed my mind.
The Calling To Be A Foster Parent
Fast forward several years later, and now I’m married with three kids. We were done and our family was complete.
The “call” came when my youngest was three years old. There was a still, small voice, and yet the words were heavy and pressing.
I wanted to adopt. My next move involved telling my husband who I was certain would shut this down. Instead, he told me he had been thinking about adoption too!
We quickly went about researching agencies, finding that most domestic infants have a line around the block of waiting parents, and we thought we wanted a toddler-aged child.
We kept being told that we should consider foster care. Even up until this point I was still denying that I would be a foster parent.
It wasn’t until my husband reminded me that we’d be adding to our family to meet a need, not because we couldn’t have children.
He was right. There is a huge need for foster care in Colorado. Huge. Clearly this was the path we needed to take.
Becoming Certified as Foster Parent
Entering the foster care system wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I was scared, nervous, and anxious, but I was also unexpectedly excited…and ready.
In training we learned about waiting. Waiting for children who need a place to call home. Children who have waited to feel safe, to feel comfort, and to feel love.
The need for foster homes is so overwhelming that this call never felt more certain, but also rather daunting. How could we be that source of comfort and love?
Thankfully we chose Hope & Home as our agency to help us navigate these feelings and questions. Once we received our certification, we commenced with our waiting. But it didn’t take long.
The First Placement
The call came. I picked up the phone on Labor Day. Our placement had been born that day and had been exposed to drugs.
Due to her severe withdrawals, we were told it would be a few days before she came home. So we waited. We waited a week, then two, then three.
She was getting better, but it was a slow progress. We waited almost a full month before she was able to come home and start her new life in our arms.
Despite having three bio kids I was simply not as ready as I thought. We quickly realized we didn’t have all the same gear as before, we didn’t have any newborn clothes anymore, and we forgot how fast formula runs out when you’re not breastfeeding.
We went from 0 to 60 in the “no sleep” department which was a shock to our systems. I mean, we were familiar with the routine, but our bodies just weren’t going to keep up. Sleep deprivation hit fast and and it hit hard.
The Early Days of Foster Care
Can I be transparent for a moment? Good. I have the mic here, so here it goes – it was hard.
It was a complete and total shift in our daily schedules. There are a lot of moving parts for foster children who have appointments, therapies, visitations, court hearings, and need a schedule while at home.
It quickly becomes a lot and you can get stretched thin in a hurry. However, we had already been trained for this in our regular parenting lives and with Hope & Home.
It’s not impossible. Our kids took the shift in our lives in stride. The morning after bringing Baby P home they all snuck into our room to peek at their new sister and they immediately fell in love.
They are still in love with her.
A New Normal
I did, however, have to take all these moving parts and make them work. I reworked the kids’ lessons, sports and activities to fit our new way of life.
This means a lot of driving on certain days. This means going to the store at a different time than I was used to.
It meant not getting laundry done or letting the dishes sit in the sink for another day. It meant more pizza for dinner…and breakfast.
Honestly, it just takes time to get used to the new normal.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan tells a joke about having four kids where he says, “If you want to know what it’s like having a 4th kid just imagine you’re drowning…and someone hands you a baby.”
It’s funny because it’s true. And yet, by the grace of God we made it work. It’s still busy today, but I no longer feel like I am drowning in carpool duties.
I know what to expect now and I am able to better plan future schedules. This just comes with time.
Thankfully, the support groups offered by Hope & Home are a haven of help. Every month we attend support group because we need other foster parents.
We need their stories, their veteran advice, and their help. They will become the people you need and want to be a part of your journey.
These other parents will pray for you, come alongside of you in a world that others just can’t understand. They will be the ones to lean on when it gets hard.
In a legal world of lawyers, guardian ad litems, supervisors, admin reviewers and judges, it is Hope & Home who is our advocate. They are our team when all others are working for the child or the bio parents.
I can truly say that with Hope & Home by our side, the burdens provided by foster care are that much easier with the help they offer.
A Shift In Thinking
We expected a seismic shift, we just didn’t know which things would change and how.
We want to add to our family, but we also understand that the first child to be in our home may not be the one we end up adopting. There are a lot of unknowns in the world of foster care. That should be no mystery.
What is known is that when you take on the role of a foster parent, you are not just giving a child a room and a toothbrush. You are giving the nurture they never received as an infant.
You are reversing the adverse effects of neglect and malnutrition. You’re creating the ability to feel safe, not only in a materialistic way, but also emotionally. You’re giving them a future that they otherwise would have never had.
What you may not realize is that you are also providing a safe avenue for the bio parents to become the adults they need to be to properly parent a child. You are showing them, too, how to nurture and sacrifice for these children.
You are a blessing to these parents and many of them are thankful for you.
God Does The Equipping
There’s no formula that will prepare you perfectly for a future foster care placement in your home, but we can know that when the calling is clear God will do the equipping.
He doesn’t call you because you’re somehow more equipped to be more compassionate or loving or patient than others. He’s calling you because He’s going to give those things when you obey Him.
Dear friend, it’s not an impossible task, but a worthy calling that requires us to constantly decrease that He may increase.
I don’t know if we’ll get to add Baby P to our family permanently. What I do know is that she is receiving the very connections her brain needs to heal.
She may leave this home, but she will leave knowing what love, connection and safety are, and her needs will have been met. Her need for my love far supersedes my need to be protected from the possibility of a broken heart.
I hope that more people will step up for these children and join as foster parents. I hope that we can be a beacon of light in a dark place for these children.
I put my hope in God’s wisdom. He didn’t call us to bear this burden simply to hurt us. His purposes are for His glory and our holiness.