Okay, Part 2. In Part 1 I focused on the actual dollar amounts of international and private domestic adoption and how these were so limiting to us that they led us to adoption through foster parenting. In Part 2 I’ll let you in on a secret. Little did we know, the ‘cost’ of this path would be our hearts breaking for people that we so badly wanted to know the changing love of Jesus. On our path we learned some other things about fostering. I hope it helps you …
If you go into your local foster system with the intent of only adoption and not fostering first, you could be in for a long wait. All children in foster care have been affected by an unfortunate situation. Some more so than others. But with the love of a stable home, a knowledgable, professional team and the guiding hand of God, you will be surprised how a child (and you as a parent) will succeed through those situations.
Yes, there are children all across the U.S that are available for adoption and in need of a home right now. AdoptUSKids is a great place to start especially if you have a home study completed. Many of these children have special needs or have requests that they will remain the youngest child in the family. Since our family already had a child with special needs that whatever his age would always be ‘the youngest’ in cognitive age and in physical need we didn’t think the children on this site would be best placed with our family.
So into the foster parent world we jumped … or at least waded into the baby pool of foster parenting: Respite Care. It’s kindof like overnight babysitting for other foster parents. Occasionally foster families need to do things out of their state; funerals or weddings, that their foster children don’t have permission to attend. Leaving their home state can sometimes be tricky and need a judge’s approval. To please everyone another foster family can care for the child during this period. It’s usually just a few days or a weekend. This is actually my advice as a great place to start for anyone with biological children. If you aren’t sure what child or sibling group would be best for your family respite care gives you a way to have children spend time with your family. It really helped us narrow down an age group that was the right fit for our family. This also gave us opportunities with our children and extended family and friends to open up the foster family dialogue. With our children those talks could get really personal. With the others it was a chance to let everyone know we were serious. Yes, this was actually happening.
Now let me speak to the women, the wives, the mom’s out there. Ladies, God gave us husbands for oodles of reasons. Yes, sometimes they think they are “God’s gift to women”, but when it comes to being a foster parent, let your husband be the brakes. Once you are an official foster parent the phone will start ringing immediately. It will not stop ringing with available children. There is a desperate need for good foster homes. Our mothering hearts will break for every single child that needs a mother and a good, safe home. Mine did and still does. Every day. If I did not tell the social worker I had to first check with my husband I would have said yes to every one of them and I would have at least ten children in my home right now.
Ugh. Keep in mind, the child will have weekly meetings with their biological family that you will have to take them to and possibly stay with them during those meetings, also courts dates, meetings with lawyers and social workers, appointments with therapists and doctors and this is in addition to their typical childhood stuff that you will want to give them like school and church activities, and a semi-normal family life at the same time. My husband knew when a child was not a good fit for our family. He listened with his head, not his heart. Rely on the wisdom God is giving him however much it hurts to say no.
The other difficult piece of fostering is this: The first goal is almost always for the child to be reunited with the biological parents or a kinship placement, such as a grandparent. I can almost hear your thoughts from here. “Whaat?! No one told us this!” You’re thinking that brings your adoption chances waaaay down, doesn’t it? No. That brings your reliance on God’s plan waaaay up. This is not always the end result. You just have to look at our family to know the first plan isn’t always the last plan. But remember, you are not entering the foster parent world for your benefit. You will be involved with a team of people that is trying to do what is best for the child. I cannot count the number of times I have been asked “What if you have to send a child back to an unhealthy situation?”. No, it’s not easy. You may only have a moment in a child’s life to give the love to them that Jesus freely gives to everyone. And I will tell you even as an Emergency Placement Foster Parent, sending a child to another perfectly wonderful foster family is also one of the most difficult things.
Foster parenting is not easy. It’s not without tears. It will cost you a huge piece of your heart. But I think we all know, the things that are worth the most in life usually cost the most.