Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Story.

I am often asked for my story, people are intrigued that I am here, at 29, living life as a single, adoptive/foster mom. For me the story is rather simple, I saw a need that I could do something about, so I did it. The seed was planted in my soul, after years of watering, it was ready to sprout.

My journey has been a long one coming, from a young age adoption was written on my heart. As a child I would secretly hope that someone would leave a baby on my doorstep, I was intrigued and inspired by stories of people in third world countries opening their homes to orphans, collecting them from boxes on the streets and raising them as their own. I grew up in a home where our door was always open, friends were always over and holidays were a mix of blood and non-blood “family.” My parents first and unknowingly instilled in me a heart for foster care, I watched them love well.

My journey into foster care began, December of 2014, it was one of those weeks on Sunday, we had a guest speaker at church, she was talking to us about foster care on behalf of a local ministry. Monday, I pass by a billboard asking me to become a foster parent. Tuesday a radio ad about becoming a foster parent. Wednesday meet someone new, they happen to be a foster parent. Thursday meet another set of foster parents. Friday, finish the week out nicely with an article in the paper about foster care and the great need in our community. I have learned something important when I notice a common theme, I slow down and pay attention.
I noticed the theme but what I was supposed to do with it? I was single, had a fun job which meant I didn’t make money and did I mention single? There was something there and I just couldn’t shake it. The following week while having coffee with my friend, Keeva, I briefly mentioned the fact the foster care kept coming up. She shared with me that she had a friend who had stepped into the life of a single foster mom a few years before, she fanned the flame that was flickering in my soul.

Feeling inspired, that night I went home and began to research the foster care laws for my state and discovered:
I had to be at least 21 years old. Not a sex offender. Prove that I had some kind of steady income. 

Check. Check. Check.

They didn’t disqualify me for being single, but I sure did. I decide to press in, not being able to shake the feeling that I could actually do something for this world. I went to an informational meeting and the next thing I knew I was enrolled in classes and well on my way to a license. Could I do this? I was more than qualified, the things I assumed disqualified me, did not. The things I viewed as inadequacies were not in fact shortcomings but realities, things I only needed to work around. I was beginning to realize that I did in fact have the tools I needed, singleness being one of them.

The classes are a combination of scare tactics, designed to weed out potential predators and/or people who just aren’t ready for fostering and a ton of self reflection homework, revealing to us our own needs and strengths. As someone who loves self reflection, I was ready. The information was not surprising to me, I watched our full class of a dozen couples (and me) dwindle to 3 families at the end. The three of us stood together on the last day, unsure of what was to come.

My classes finished, April 2015 and by May my license showed up, it was official. I began receiving calls for placements. They pair up your preferences with kids who need homes in the system, you get a call once they find a match and it goes something like this:

“We have a 5 year old boy who needs a home. Looking like a 3 month placement. Has the following behaviors (insert laundry list of flaws that the child has). Would you like to accept this placement, do you have any questions?”

So you make a decision, quickly based on a list of flaws of a stranger, you know is hurting. I am given the chance to talk with a worker who has worked with the child in order to get more information and I am also allowed to meet the child but in the end you have no idea what you are getting yourself into.

I got my feet wet with respite, temporary care usually just a few days to weeks. I took in a sibling group of three, 10, 7, and 5, their current foster home had been damaged in a storm and they needed to be placed somewhere else for a few weeks. Those three weeks, were a reality check, my life was changing drastically, think a fish flopping around out of the water. We survived and actually enjoyed each other, I was able to see them occasionally over the year until they were returned home. My respite kiddos got picked up on a Wednesday, and my crew came on Thursday, you can read about our first night together here.

Over the two years I have been a mom, I have looked deeper in my heart, foster care and the reality that surrounds it. I have walked into courtrooms, therapy offices and DHS conference rooms, I have heard stories that make my stomach turn and break my heart, I have seen the faces of addicts, the brokenness of the system and it’s little victims as they cry. I have watched our baby come and go twice, the road has been long and at times it hurts but I can say in the last two years I have received an incredible gift, I have seen such beauty come from the ashes.

So my friends, if in the depths of your soul, that little flicker of a dream is there, press in. Look deeper and take the practical steps towards making that dream a reality. Maybe it is one more step, one more word or one more plan but do it, take the step to do that one more thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment