We are currently participating in a social media challenge to bring more awareness to foster care during the month of May, which happens to be Foster Care Awareness Month. And while I shared a snippet of our story on Facebook and Instagram, I felt that with our blog launch right around the corner, it was only fitting to share our story right here! I hope that this touches someone somewhere who feels a little tug on their heart to learn more about fostering.
To be honest, our foster care journey caught us completely by surprise. Foster care and adoption was something that was always in our hearts, but not at the forefront of our minds. The idea of ever fostering or adopting never came up in conversation as we got to know each other during our season of dating… or after marriage… or even when we spoke of starting our family. It was only after we struggled with infertility that becoming foster parents was a consideration that maybe this was the road God had for us all along.
At the time, I was working in full-time ministry when my dear friend, and coworker, set up for a representative from our local Christian foster care agency to hold an orientation for our church members. While we knew people who were fostering or who had previously fostered, we were still skeptical about taking the leap. We had only been trying to get pregnant for a year and kept wondering what life would be like if it finally happened soon – right after we made it through our classes… and got licensed… and accepted a placement… and suddenly found ourselves from still newlyweds to living in a madhouse?
*Spoiler Alert* We didn’t get pregnant.
We did, however, decide to cautiously move forward with the process. My dear friend did a lot of begging and persuasively still ended up dragging us to orientation with her and her husband. What we learned during orientation helped ease a bit of our hesitations towards fostering and, while weren’t completely committed, we decided to take a few licensing classes and “see how we feel.” After all, we could stop at any time if we decided this just wasn’t for us, right?
Let’s fast forward a few weeks deep into those long classes and nearly half of the home study completed (we got lucky and started at just the right time when out licensing worker’s case load dropped significantly from her last round of completed licenses, and she was ready to get the ball rolling with more families).
We still weren’t sure that we wanted to do this, but we weren’t sure we didn’t. We were coming around to the idea of this new venture we were (unknowingly then) about to embark on. At the very least, we figured: it doesn’t hurt to keep learning. We don’t have to make up our minds right now, and we CAN continue educating ourselves on what foster care is all about and how we can play a part in the lives of children effected by trauma and abuse. After all, I was working in full-time children’s ministry and my husband was just as deeply involved as I was at our church. We knew of many children in our ministry who came from shattered homes and had been placed in the system, and the more knowledge we had the more we could connect with them and appreciate the unique situations they come from.
As the weeks went by, our hearts were softening to the idea of opening our home for kids who just needed a temporary safe haven. God was beginning to stir up a passion within us we didn’t know we had. I can honestly say we made it through 10 weeks of training, and intensely personal and awkward home visits, with all our paperwork completed, and still didn’t know if the foster parent gig was for us. I would be lying if I said pregnancy and fertility treatments weren’t something we still heavily desired. I would be lying if I said we weren’t nervous about what might happen if we did end up getting pregnant. I would be lying if I said we weren’t nervous about how we would feel if we never got pregnant and were raising someone else’s kid while they get their lives together (I’m being honest, remember?). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared of the magnitude in which God might use us if this was the road we were meant to take all along.
Although everything in my heart was saying “Do it!” everything in my head was screaming, “Hit the brakes!” I am a planner. I am (obsessively) organized and (overly) prepared for almost every situation. I live my life with order. Okay, I’ll just say it: I’m a control freak who completely over-analyzes anything life throws at me and thinks of way too many worst-possible-scenarios in my head to, you know, be prepared.
How could we (I) handle all the uncertainties that encompass all that is foster care. Could we handle seeing so much heartbreak in such a little child? Could we handle walking with them through their trauma, grief and anger? Would we be enough for them through this season of life, when we weren’t the parents they knew? Would we be able to attach to a child who was a complete stranger to us? Would we be good parents, considering this was going to be our first go-around at it? Would we be able to handle the sorrow of letting a child go who we had fallen in love with and cared for as our own?
We prayed… and we prayed… and prayed. We just couldn’t shake the fact that – despite all of the reasons we had to say, “No,” or to postpone activating our license, or to talk ourselves out of what could be the start of one the craziest seasons in our marriage – despite all of our doubts that we were ready to be foster parents, the pain that comes with the realization that none of these kids were ready to become a foster child trumped even the most creative selfish excuse we could talk ourselves into believing.
After all, is anyone ever really prepared for fostering?
And isn’t the life of a child worth fighting for?
I discovered my desire to become a mother translates into any fashion God chooses to bring into fruition. It turns out that my OCD and Type-A tendencies pay off with the crazy amount of paperwork and appointments we have to juggle. A need for routine, structure and order is a favorable environment for drug-exposed infants to grow up in. The unstoppable fierceness within me becomes one heck of an advocate when our littles need it most. And all the insecurities and uncertainties behind the dance of attachment and wholeheartedly giving of a loving, nurturing soul vanished the moment I held our sweet, less-than-one-week-old first placement in my arms for the first time.
And just as I suspected, my husband is, of course, the best dad our kids could ever have. Although foster care was not something we previously considered, I believe there is not a person on this earth who was more called to this role than him. His sweet, kind spirit brings so much peace to our household. The unconditional love and patience he gives in even the most trying and overwhelming moments is simply priceless. The incredible man of God that he is sets such a wonderful example for our littles to not only follow, but to see into the heart of His unfailing love for them.
Our journey to fostering began with realizing the need for foster parents was greater than our fears. It began with opening our hearts and minds for a different path God had for our family. It began with a willingness to serve God through uncertainty and heartache, and to trust his calling in our lives. It began with a passion to provide a safe and loving home for a child who needs it. And can I just say, this has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. We wouldn’t change it for the world. We are so glad we (finally) jumped and chose to become foster parents.
Do you feel like you’re being led to join the foster care community? I encourage you to reach out to agencies and churches in your area. Attend an orientation. Take it one step at a time. Learn along the way. Within the many gifts and talents that makes you unique is an opportunity to support the foster care system in one way or another. What will your story be?
Getting started with your own family story? Check out our Foster Care and Adoption Journey Milestone Cards and Signs you can print and use as photo props on your blog or to share your journey with friends and family on social media, or you can even print these and journal on the back for a special keepsake of all the special moments in your journey!