In 2019, my husband and I watched the news in horror, seeing so many children caught in the border crisis, without homes. I thought we should move to Texas or Mexico and do something.
We had two incomes. No biological children. Flexible jobs. Tons of love to give. Let’s go. It sounded logical to me, but my husband’s level head prevailed. His simple comment, “Why don’t we help the kids in our own city?” led us to foster care.
It was a big change to our lifestyle. A world traveler, I had been to 35 countries before marriage, and my husband and I had spent three years sailing from Florida to the Caribbean. But, we were open to this very different type of adventure— becoming foster parents to vulnerable children.
We agreed to start with one infant. That seemed doable. But then, we got a call asking if we could accept two toddlers. We said “no.” It felt like more than we could manage—and toddlers are spicy. God has a sense of humor though. Those two “toddlers” are now our oldest children.
Overnight, we became their advocates for medication and medical records, for visits with family members, which were challenging, but necessary. We advocated for the kids’ educational needs and the future they deserved—whether that included us or not.
In less than three years, we went from zero to four children, all under age eight. Eventually, we adopted the two oldest, a boy and girl, and then adopted another child, and we are currently fostering another. The unknowns, potential for pain, and logical reasoning often stand in the way of our parenting path, but the “yes” in our hearts is bigger than our fear. We realize what we could have missed! We could have missed seeing the redemption that comes from sitting side by side with a biological family. We could have missed watching these hopeful little kiddos grow into kind, thoughtful, and resilient kids. We could have missed the outpouring of love and support from our foster care community.
I wish you could meet my brave, resilient, happy kiddos. They have stared down so much pain and loss at such young ages. They have beaten the odds of being “in the system” and are thriving.
WHAT I WISH WE WOULD HAVE KNOWN EARLIER
1. The foster care licensing process is not hard. There is paperwork and tasks to perform, but depending on how quickly you respond to questions and phone calls, it can take a few weeks to a few months to receive a license. Once approved, your home is licensed for two years.
2. You have choices. When the Department of Social Services contacts you with placement requests, you can determine how many children, their ages, and the level of care you are able to provide.
3. We are not special. We did not have a “special calling” from God, nor did we feel especially equipped. But we are parents willing to love kids like they are our own, even if they are not ours forever.
TOP 3 THINGS NOT TO SAY TO A FOSTER PARENT (AND WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD).
“I could never do that. It would be too hard to give them back.”
“I bet it is really hard to say goodbye. Is there a way I can support you?
“I am too busy with my real kids.”
“My life feels really full right now. Are there ways I can help without becoming a foster parent?”
“What happened to their real parents?”
“I am so grateful they have you to stand in the gap for them during this tough season.”
If you are interested in getting involved or learning more about Fostering Hope, please attend one of our interest meetings.