How we ended up here
When you are little, you just tend to think that everyone's life is like yours is. My home life was wonderful - I had two parents that loved me, believed in me, encouraged me, told me I was wonderful, taught me about God and how to be selfless and loving and truthful. When I found out that not everyone had parents like mine, it was a little bit of a shock. When I found out that sometimes parents couldn't (or didn't) take care of their own children, maybe even hitting them or letting them go hungry...I couldn't bear it. It made me so, so sad.
Fast forward to five years ago, when my husband and I first got married. I told him in advance that I might not be able to have children. We both wanted kids, but I think maybe I wanted them a bit more than he did (ha!). I was very open to the idea of children of any race, and even pictured our little (big) family with multiple races represented. In my dreams none of my children look like me - I am talking about actual dreams at night, not like day-dream type dreams.
I brought up the idea of us doing foster care after we had been married for a year or so, and he was not really interested. I kept bringing it up...and he kept not being interested. :)
Eventually, our church did an event focusing on serving. One of the service opportunities was in foster care. After the service, we headed to the foster care booth. I determinedly asked the representative what I could do, by myself, without my husband since he wasn't really interested. The rep responded by saying that maybe I could volunteer to transport kids to visits, but that he wouldn't really recommend it because sometimes the bio parents can be kind of dangerous. He suggested doing respite care.
I had heard of respite care and already decided I WAS NOT interested. Not because I didn't want to do it, not at all - but because I was afraid of the children. I was afraid of taking children in to our home that we would have only for a short time, who might have behavior problems that we couldn't address in the long-term, who would then sufficiently turn my husband off from foster care forever, leaving me a childless empty-nester destined to grow old with only my husband to keep me company, and no one to come visit me in the nursing home. Yes I'm serious, that's what I thought.
My husband thought respite care was a great idea!
We signed up. Our first respite kids were three kids from another country that would be spending 2 nights with us. They were 3, 5, and 7, and BOY were they a handful! They walked all over us and taught us a thing or two about discipline, consistency, and the importance of having a game plan! They were defiant, and hilarious, and the little one was speech delayed and still in diapers, and...wow. By the time the weekend was over, WE needed a respite! We were so tired. They had endless energy, they would talk naughty words in their original language, they never wanted to go to sleep...makes me exhausted just thinking about it!
Their foster mom asked us to do it again the next month! And again...and again. Until they went back home to live with their bio family.
Surprisingly, after about 6 months of this my husband said that maybe we could go ahead and do foster care.
In the process of getting our license, we requested to be matched with one child under the age of five.
The first call we got was for two boys, ages 8 and 9.
We said yes.
They moved in, then 10 days later moved out - our license had not gone through, and plus an aunt had come forward stating that she could take placement. Our hearts were broken, and I'm afraid not for the first time.
Then we got called for a 1 year old, and an 11 year old...and oh by the way, there is a 2 year old sibling placed somewhere else, would we be interested in taking him too so they could be together?
How could we say no?
And so, nearly 1 year into our journey, here we are.
I have learned that the primary goal in foster care is reunification. And I am OK with that. Someone said it best when they said "If people who love kids don't take care of these children...who will?" I love kids. I am going to cry if/when "my boys" go home, possibly for days or even weeks. And I do hope to adopt someday, eventually. But I hope that we can have a positive impact on the children that make their way into our home and into our hearts. They have been through so much and any loss that I might endure is so small in comparison to their very great losses.
May is National Foster Care Month. If you have a heart for children I would encourage you look into foster care or other ways you can help, such as providing respite care, volunteering as a CASA worker, or by donating clothes, toys, and other items to the FosterCARE Closet.