We've been asked a lot of questions ever since we began sharing that we were working to get licensed as foster parents.
It makes sense. It's definitely not something you should do on a whim. It's something that requires thoughtful consideration and planning. It's also something that a lot of people think they "can't do," because they don't meet some unspoken set of self-created requirements.
And sure, not everyone should be a foster parent; though, I believe more are called to be than are. There are many needs in this world that need to be met, and one person can't do it all. This is something I have to remind myself on a regular basis. I have a tendency to see all the need and overwhelm myself with the knowledge I do not have the capacity to take care of every one.
We are each given a special set of skills and a calling for this moment. It's up to us to decide whether we will answer that call before the ringing ends.
"We're becoming foster parents because God showed us in so many ways that this is His plan for this time in our lives."
I said this in my last post, the one announcing our intent to foster. It is the driving force for our "why," and something I am going to elaborate on in this post.
I'd also love to hear from you if you are a foster parent, someone who was in the foster care system, or someone who works in the foster care system. While I may be answering questions in this post about our personal journey, I am definitely still very unfamiliar with much of the system, and I welcome the opportunity to learn more through the experiences of others. Let's help and encourage each other!
Now onto the questions.
Are you doing this because you can't have kids biologically?
Short Answer: No, that's not why we are doing this.
I've discovered that I get somewhat frustrated when people ask me or my husband when we're going to start having kids. For one thing, it's a very personal decision made between a husband and wife. For another thing, a lot of the people asking this aren't really the first people I would tell if we were pregnant.
The answer will always be "not yet" unless we are actually pregnant and ready to announce to the world. Do you really want to be told, "well, we're currently trying really hard?" No, I don't think so.
Finally, and this is the biggest reason, it is just straight up insensitive.
Now I know there's a lot of discussion around whether my generation and the ones following are too sensitive or are too easily offended. Ignore that just for a moment, because that's not what this is about.
This is about that momma who just had a miscarriage. It's about the couple who have been trying to conceive, literally for years. It's about the momma who had an abortion and regrets it every day. It's about the scars that are hidden so deep that only a few people, or maybe even no one, knows about it.
It's about pain inflicted upon one of the most dear-to-heart areas of our lives.
I never want to be a person who causes another person pain, even unintentionally. So sometimes I get on a mini soapbox about how people need to stop asking this question of others (it's so easy to do, just talk about the weather or something instead) and move on.
If they haven't told you, maybe you just don't need to know.
The thing is, because this is not the reasoning behind our decision to foster, it hadn't even crossed my mind as a possibility before the first person asked. I will say that, though I was thrown off by the unexpected query, I personally didn't mind answering it. But I could easily imagine the pain and shock I might have felt if that were the case, despite how kindly it was asked.
Are you going to adopt?
Short Answer: We don't know.
Adoption is something that my husband and I have both been open to for a long time. It's a calling that was placed on our hearts at an early age (think as early as high school and elementary).
But we aren't going into foster care for the purpose of adoption.
It's not something you hear about often unless you become familiar with foster care, but a majority of children in the system are actually able to return to their biological parents and families. This is such a good thing!
Our goal in going into foster care is to be available as a temporary home for children who need a place to stay, who need to be cared for, and who need to be told and shown just how loved and special they are. These kids will most likely want to go back to their families, and we are here to support that goal of reunification.
But the heartbreaking reality is that not every kid will able to rejoin their family. I grieve for those who must face this circumstance, for whatever reason. Families weren't meant to be broken.
The beautiful thing is that God makes broken things into beautiful things. This is especially evident in families. So if God brings a child into our home that will not be able to be reunited with their biological family, adoption is something we will begin to discuss and consider.
What do you need?
Short Answer: Prayer and support.
We have been so blessed by God's provision, and are moving forward in the promise that He will provide every step along the way. This means meeting both our physical and emotional needs, knowing he will use others in our lives to do so.
Something like offering to watch the kid(s) so that we can go on a date, or bringing a meal by, or asking if there's anything we might need at the store. These are all easy things you can do to support us and other foster parents in your lives.
Prayer is always welcome as a way to support us in our journey and meets a spiritual need as well.
I often think of the missionaries facing trials and persecution around the world, and how important prayer is for them since I don't always have ways to help or support their physical needs. But each follower of Christ needs to be living their life in that same way; in reliance on God, living in prayer, and in a way that ministers to those around them.
Currently God has been faithful to provide the finances and items we need to put together a versatile kids' room and closet that will be useful for the age range we will be fostering. He has provided many wonderful gifts from family and friends that we are so grateful for.
God provided for the kids' room in another way as well, by prompting us to begin putting it together as early as the end of last year. In this way, we were able to buy many items secondhand from thrift stores before the crisis of COVID-19 caused many shops to close their doors.
As someone who is doing their best to be aware of waste and loves shopping secondhand, this was a big deal to me.
Now we won't have to order in everything new, and our kids' room is ready and waiting for whoever comes our way. We will only need to buy a few more age-specific items once we hear of our first placement and learn their needs.
The other way we have really felt God's provision is in the opportunities we have been given to "practice parenting."
At the end of last year, before we even started considering foster care, we signed up to volunteer by teaching the Sunday school class for a young age group. More recently, we helped a friend of ours with childcare during a week-long work trip (pre-pandemic) and for the last month have been helping them out more during the day since schools are closed.
It's been eye-opening for us, and has prompted a lot of good discussions about parenting and how we can work together with a child in our home. Communication is key and, through our discussions, I have been able to realize some things about myself that I wasn't aware of before.
BONUS: It takes a special kind of person to become a foster parent.
Short Answer: No, it really doesn't.
I included this because, while not a question, it is a statement that both my husband and I have heard often since we started letting those around us know what we were planning to do.
We are not "special," we just have open ears to listen for God's call in our lives. We are not "special," we just have open hearts to be obedient to that call. While I'm certainly not perfect and have not always responded to God's calls as I should, I hold obedience to God as necessary in my life; not as something that makes me special, holy, or better than.
If you are being called by God to do something, I hope you choose to listen. It will be the best choice you could make.
I've always been someone to err on the side of caution. I don't like high risk stakes, and I'd much rather hole up and be safe than act in a way that could result in pain or injury. (That being said, I do have an adventurous streak that won't always be ignored.)
But when weighing the risk of answering God's call versus not, I always end up at the same conclusion: that being right where God is telling me to be will always be the safest place in the universe.
I think Jeremiah 29:11 must be one of the most well-known verses in that entire book of the Bible:
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope'" (NLT).
If God's plans for me are good, then why would I run away from them? Many people would say "because it is hard." But just because something is hard doesn't mean it's not good. A commonly known saying is that "nothing worth having comes easy."
I don't plan on trying to live an easy life. Why run from a promise of goodness toward something not worth having?
God spoke these words to the Israelites through Jeremiah while they were in captivity. He was promising them that even there, in the midst of their enemies and captors, He had a purpose for their life and would remain with them.
In verses 12-13 He continues by saying, "'In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me'" (NLT).
I choose to seek God and His plan for my life.
It won't always be easy, but it will be good and best for me. It doesn't make me special. It makes me a follower of the only one I can trust to truly have my best interest in mind.
I hope you will consider doing the same. Maybe not with foster care, but wherever God is calling you to action in your life. He has a plan, and it is so much bigger (and so much better!) than you could ever imagine.