Presenting the first of my favorite posts from my previous blog: Amazing Love.
Originally published: 7/2/14
Foster care. It’s a pretty big part of my life. Here’s how it started and how it’s continued so far. It still hasn’t ended, thanks to God.
When I learned what a foster family was, and that we were going to become one, I was overjoyed. The prospect seemed so exciting – getting new brothers or sisters who came to live with you all the time. But my visions were not entirely realistic.
For those of you who don’t know the details of foster care, here’s a brief overview:
When a child enters into foster care, it is often because their parents are unable to care for them or are in an unstable situation. Less commonly, the child him/herself is the reason they have to leave their home. The child’s appointed social worker then calls a number of families to see if they can take care of the child. All of these families have gone through training to learn how best to care for the children, many of which come into their home with a broken past.
The social worker then chooses one of the willing and available families for the child to live with. They call that family again and ask when the child can arrive.
When the child and social worker get to the foster family’s house, the child usually has little more than the clothes on their back, so a shopping trip is necessary to buy clothes, toothbrush, etc. After the social worker leaves, daily life goes on from there. A court date is set for reevaluation of the child’s case and everyone tries to settle into a new routine.
This whole process is full of mixed emotions for every party involved. The parents will be taking care of someone they know extremely little about, the family’s children have to try to be accepting and loving to this new sibling, and the child in foster care has an entirely new situation to deal with in the midst of complications with their birth family.
We got our first placement when I was about 8 years old. I was so excited – I couldn’t wait to meet our new, if potentially temporary, siblings. When we got home that day, the children had already arrived. We were taking care of two brothers aged 3 years and 18 months. Our family had met these boys before because our friends had also taken care of them a while beforehand.
The next year or was filled to the brim with anxious court dates and different worries about visitations and the boys’ futures.
Finally, the boys were up for adoption. This doesn’t always happen. The boys could have gone to live with another family member or foster family, but they didn’t.
I hadn’t realized until now how much time and prayer my parents put into making the decision to adopt those boys, but they chose to do it. They are now part of our growing family: Brad and Eric, who are currently 8 and 6 years old.
But not all foster placements play out that way.
In August 2012, when I was 11, we received our second placement. This time it was a baby whose name I should not disclose as she still has not been adopted. We got her from the hospital when she was two days old and brought her home to love. She was a tiny baby then, and now, though she’s almost two, she’s still tiny.
We were blessed with the first four months of her life to play with her and take care of her – four very important months. We took her to appointments and fed her special formula all they way through to her court date. That was the day she left.
I’m pretty sure I can safely say that was just about the worst day of my life. We were crying all day, especially when Daddy left to take her to the waiting arms of her loving grandparents. No one wanted to give up this precious little girl who had become such a huge part of our family. We sobbed and sobbed. It was tragic. I personally was heartbroken.
About a month later, her grandparents called us, asking if we wanted to come see her. We were again overjoyed and filled with excitement. After the 10 minute or so visit, we were told we could come back and see her more.
The next month we got another phone call from her grandparents asking if we could babysit for a day. That day soon turned into an over night, then a week. We now get to see her all the time and “babysit” about one week out of two. We still love her immensely and pray for her to come to God as she gets older and for Him to put her in a safe place to stay where she will be well taken care of, whether we get to help with that care or not. As I write, she is dancing through the living room with complete excitement all the way from her spinning feet to her flung-out arms to her laughing smile. She is totally precious.
Believe it or not, there are ways that anyone can help those in the foster care system. One thing you can do is consider becoming a foster family. It seems that there are never enough. Another is to donate things like clothes, blankets, toiletries, or school supplies to your local Department of Social Services. The last and most important thing you can do is pray. Pray for the kids in foster care, for the foster families, and for the birth families of the kids in foster care. I have personally seen how God answers prayers about these kids. And His love is amazing.
P.S. In our county, another way to help out is to help wrap Christmas gifts for kids in foster care. It’s fun and a real blessing to many people.