Why We Became Foster Parents

Why We Became Foster Parents

Like many things in life, there are a whole bunch of reasons you might choose to do this. There are also a whole bunch of reasons not to. These are just the factors that led us in to this adventure a little over three years ago.

We always sort of thought about adoption.

This is not unique. A lot of people give some thought to adoption as something they might do some day. I was no exception. Growing up I knew a lot of families formed though adoption, and I thought it was awesome (obviously I had no idea that adoption is also incredibly complicated – something I think can’t be fully appreciated without experiencing it). My husband and I had talked about it a little before we got married.

In case you’re new to the foster care/adoption discussion: Foster care is not the same as adoption. Fostering a child does not mean you will adopt them, although in some cases it does eventually lead to adoption.

We wanted to give back in a significant way.

This is also not unique. Most of us want to find ways to make the world a better place. My husband and I have always supported various charitable causes and organizations, but we were at the point where we wanted to do something more – something we could take real action on that would serve a critical need in the world.

Don’t misunderstand me here, because I know this can be a hot topic. I don’t see my foster and adoptive kids as some philanthropy project any more than I see my marriage or my friendships that way. I don’t imagine myself as anyone’s savior. Our world is broken in complicated, horrible ways, and me being a foster parent is not going to fix that. But the simple reality is that there is a dire need for homes where kids can be safe and loved. For some of them it is the difference between life and death.

We were in a position of strength.

“Strength is for service.” You can trace this quote back to any number of sources (including Saint Paul, circa 57AD). It’s a simple statement with profound implications for our lives.

We knew it would be tough to be foster parents (we had no idea how tough), but we also knew we were in a strong position in life and that we wanted to use that to serve our community and the vulnerable kids within it. We have great jobs. Our marriage is a good one. We live in a place we love where we have lots of friends and family. We are still young and in decent health. None of these things are required for parenting, but they sure do help. And they really help if you are considering diving into the psychological and emotional turmoil of being a foster parent.

The odds were in our favor.

I’m sure you’ve heard stories about it taking years and years and thousands of dollars for a couple who was interested in adoption to actually adopt a child. The time from our first phone call to a local foster/adoption agency to the day we met C (our first foster kid and eventually our adopted son)  was five months. It cost very little out of pocket. Our licensing class was expedited. There were no major paperwork issues. C’s judge was awesome and so was his CASA. We made some rock-solid friendships in that licensing class and have had some amazing respite providers – both of which sustained us through some seriously rough patches in our first year of foster parenting.

If any of these things had not fallen into place like they did, I have no idea where we’d be today. Call it luck, call it blessing, call it fate – part of why we’re still in the game is that we had some wins early on.

We like a challenge.

This has come up before as a reason we do things, and I’m sure it will again – this is just part of who we are as a couple. Excluding the parenting part completely for a minute: the bureaucracy of the system itself is enough of a challenge to leave even the sharpest and most energetic person confused and exhausted.

Maybe part of why we jumped into this is that a lot of people told us it would be hard as hell. It was. It still is. I’m sure it will continue to be.

Bring it on.

C and his dad playing in a fountain

“Don’t let the fear of losing a child you love deter you.

Let the fear of a child never knowing love drive you.”

 

 

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