I sit here today, on the brink of wrapping up a license to take in a foster child. We're so close. We're so very, very close.
But I can't possibly sit here and tell you the story as if the hubster and I have done every bit of the preparation thus far on our own. No. See, foster care isn't something any one person or household can do succesfully alone. It's something that calls for "All hands on deck"; every person gathering around the life of this one as if they're of utmost importance.
It's almost laughable the difference between preparing for a biological child and a foster child. In my experience (and I've done this 3 times now), when you're expecting a biological child it looks like a little like this
- People buy you gifts for the baby
- You get asked if you're having a boy or a girl or what your preference is if you don't know
- You get judged on the name you've chosen (oh, yes you do)
- Everyone has strong, almost religious opinions on what you need and don't need
- Your physical space is no longer yours. From the OBGYN to the woman at the grocery store, everyone must touch you.
- There are classes that teach you how to nurse and how to birth but after that, people hand you books like "What to expect..." (and believe me, the abounding opinions on what you do right and wrong makes you wish there were some sort of standard training you had to take)
- While adjusting to growing, birthing, and mothering a baby you try so hard to remember back to when you were sane and not randomly yelling, crying, eating, or all of the aforementioned at the same time
- The closest family and friends gather to supply gift cards for the things you need to even create a space in your home for a foster child. This was a most beautiful day and my children learned again what it looks like to put others before yourself.
- You still get asked questions about gender/age/race preferences. I wish I had a hidden camera on my glasses to capture the face of some who hear the answer "we're open to any race or gender...ages 0-4". Oh, you'd be surprised... lol
- You're told all the reasons why the person you're presently speaking to "Could NEVER" do foster care & wonder how you're supposed to respond. I tend to say, "That's OK. You can help us!" (I am not so naive to think I won't need help at all)
- Some people have horror stories of foster care that they can't wait to tell you. All sorts of extreme stories that, I guess, aren't meant to scare me out of being a foster parent but serve as a "just so you know" kind of warning. (Yes, someone told me a story of how a foster child grew up to kill his adoptive parents. Lovely. And the chances of that are...?)
- People come to your home and ask you the most invasive questions about you, your parents, your siblings, your childhood, your work experience, your religion, your thoughts on foster children, your discipline techniques, and on and on and on. Then those answers are sent to the state for everyone there to know ALLLLLL about you, too.
- There is training upon training upon training to make sure you're very well supported with resources, tools, and contacts to help you through your journey in foster care.
- Stress is the new hormonal storm. The stress of preparation, answering hard questions my own children have, trying not to play the "what if" game, waiting - waiting - waiting, & getting the home good enough for the state's approval is heavy. Not to mention the paperwork. It's a lot.
Everything I said I bought was only possible through the use of the gift cards our family and friends blessed us with. And I didn't picture the baby proofing items I bought, the baby gate, or the convertible car seat that is in the closet. This room isn't just my doing. I love that I can share that with the child who joins our family. We're also blessed to have some gift cards left to help us cover those last minute needs that will pop up when we have a placement - needs like bottles, pacifiers, diapers, etc.
Friends! We're so close now. Soon I'll be able to show you a shadow of our foster child or the little hands and feet we're caring for. As the child will be a ward of the state, I'm not allowed to show you his/her face. But I'll be sure to give you sneak peeks into our home as I'm able.
Please continue to pray for us and also for the child who will join us. We're excited but sober-minded as we head into this journey. A child being placed with us will mean that there is a world of hurt behind his/her eyes. But. Love never fails. Love is the plan here in this home.
Now if I could only run around my home and give every room a makeover...