Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Foster care and adoption have always been in my heart. I thought it was only possible in the movies. I never knew the need was so great in reality.
I want to share our foster care journey with you.
I hope I can empower you to look into it yourself.
We became certified in the state of Oklahoma three and a half years ago. After having complications with my first and only pregnancy (I will tell that story in another post), I decided that I wanted to foster and someday adopt. I always knew that God had another child out there for us.
I decided to talk to my husband, who is my polar opposite. I am unorganized, throw caution to the wind, impulsive, go with the flow, etc. while he is very cautious. He analyzes everything...everything needs an excel sheet. He researches. Thinks analytically. and analyzes again. He is an engineer with an engineer mind.
When I approached him with the idea, he surprisingly just said "hmm, okay!"
I was shocked, to say the least.
I told him that I already had a contact at an agency, and had already filled out the initial paperwork. Again, "okayyyy."
About a week later, a large packet of paperwork came in the mail. We filled it out, sent it back, and were assigned a case worker.
We met with him, filled out some more paper work, and began our online training. I want to say it was about 12 hours worth.
After that was all completed, we had our home study done.
I cannot express to you how anxious I was about this part. What if our house isn't big enough? What if we don't make enough money? What if, what if, what if.
I was so shocked at how quick and painless it really was!
The woman who conducted our home study came over, asked us some personal questions, took a look around, and that was it.
Seriously, no big deal.
Do not let the fear of a home study slow ya down.
After all of that was complete, we were ready for the phone to ring! Surprisingly, it rang the day after we became certified.
It was at 9pm on a weekday. The call was regarding a five month old baby girl. I was so excited, but also heart broken that a child was being placed into foster care in that moment.
She was the sweetest thing, and I will never forget her.
The next morning, we took her to a routine doctors appointment, and then to the DHS offices to come up with a plan for visitations, etc.
The birth parents were there. I was so mad at them, I judged them, but then quickly remembered why we were doing this in the first place. I immediately just felt my heart sink. Not for me, but for them. How strange to see your baby with a family you have never met.
We then went into a tiny room with the bio parents, DHS caseworkers, foster care agency workers, and discussed a plan for visitations, established routines the child had, medical history. ALL.THE.THINGS.
The birth mom was so sweet, and not in a fake kind of way. A genuine sweetness and thankfulness that we were able to be there for her daughter.
We had that sweet baby for only three days. In three days DHS was able to find a family member to place her with while her parents focused on getting better, and making sure that their child would have the best home to come back to.
I cried for days after she left. I was absolutely heartbroken, but I knew that it was for the best. I had a supernatural peace that we had done our job, and done our job well. We loved her, took care of her, protected her, and gave her a safe space when she needed it most.
This is the part where you have to surrender your own feelings, and realize that it isn't about you. It is one of the most selfless things you can do, and I promise it will change you for the better.
A couple of weeks went by before the phone rang again. I would stay up until 3am just waiting for my phone to ring...and it did..a few times, actually. I would get the house and spare bedroom prepared, and then it would fall through. I think this happened about three times before I received the phone call that would be about our future daughter.
I will never forget that day. I recieved the call about a baby girl that was being released from the NICU and needed a home to go to. The placement office actually said yes for us before even asking us! They had our backs for sure ;)
The feel of it from the beginning was different. There was not a birth family waiting to be met with. There was just this sweet 5lb baby that was ready to go home. I'm going to have to cut this short because I am already crying. I will make a post specifically for her story in the future.
We took her home 2.5 years ago, and today we are in trial adoption. This process has been LONG. It has been hard, it has been beautiful and messy.
We are currently just waiting on a court date, and she will be OURS!
I want to give you some statistics on children in the foster care system:
1. There are approximately 440,000 foster youth nationwide.
2. 30,000 youth age out of the foster care system between the ages of 18 – 21 annually.
3. Within four years of aging out, 50% have no earnings, and those who do make an average annual income of $7,500.
4. The median age of children in foster care is 6 ½ years old.
There is so much more information out there. I have linked a couple of resources at the end of this post if you are curious.
I hope that I can bring some awareness to this topic. I know so many people who have it in their hearts too, but don’t know where to start.
You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect situation. Just do it.
We have been called, friends. It’s right there in the good book.
But you know what I think is so cool? That God has put different messages in people’s hearts. Some similar. Some different. But how cool that we get to serve Him in different ways and share/teach those messages with each other?!
I have put together some tangible steps below for you to take to get started! I hope they help.
- Go in rooting for the birth family. The ultimate goal of foster care is reunification
- You have to get to the point of it not being about you, but about them.
- Make a phone call. Call DHS & ask what’s involved. Ask questions. See if you think it’s from you.
- Do not operate from fear.
- Ask your agency, or DHS about completing your initial training online. I LOVED that we were able to go at our own pace, in the comfort of our home, and discuss what we were learning about in an intimate setting.
If you just love in person classes/training - GO FOR IT. Rock on! Those are available as well.
- Mentor, volunteer, donate, come along side struggling families so they can try to keep their babies.
- Surround foster families- bring meals, babysit their bio kids while they take fosters to therapies/court/visitation. Be a safe place to listen.,Be a reference or an alternative care giver for them. Respite care is also a huge blessing.If you are not in a position to foster, these things are just as valuable and important.
- Contact local agencies that can help get you started. This is completely free through foster care, and they work alongside DHS to make sure things run a little more smoothly. It is always great to have an extra advocate for you. Another person in your corner.
( We went with the local agency TFI Family Connections)
- Be very clear and specific on who you are willing to foster. There are SO many different scenarios that it is important to be as specific and up front as you can with your foster care worker. This makes sure that the child is placed in the best possible home.
- If you just want to adopt, be clear and specific about that.
- Erase all expectations you have, especially when it comes to a time frame. Fostering to adopt is not generally a fast track to a final adoption.
- Foster care is FREE! Not only is it free, but foster kiddos are provided with health insurance, DHS subsidy assistance, WIC, a monthly stipend, and so much more.
When you move to adoption- It is still FREE! Your kiddo will receive free health care until age 18, qualify for scholarships and grants, and a monthly stipend through Adoption Assistance (if eligible).
- Just start! Take tiny steps, but move your feet. God blesses moving feet.
I could go on and on, but please reach out to me if you’re curious, have questions, need help, want to talk/pray it out. I’m here. I don’t know it all, but I am learning every day.
QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
- Have you ever considered foster care or adoption?
- If you have, what has held you back?
- Are you currently a foster/adoptive parent? If you are, I would love to connect.