My wife and I have been involved in foster care for over a year now and let me tell you, the things that you learn can be both mind-blowing and scary at the same time. I’ll admit that I was the reluctant one when the topic to foster/adopt came up. I finally gave in and I’m glad that I did. I can’t believe that I didn’t get involved sooner!
The first thing we had to do was to get certified. We attended a series of free courses given by CPS (Child Protective Services) and it was in those classes that my eyes and heart were opened. We learned about what to expect from children and their families. We learned to look for the positives in the situations. We even learned that it was ok to be frustrated at times. We role played and discussed several scenarios. Our classmates would participate and give their opinions and we got really close as a class. Part of the certification involved CPR training as well as a fire inspection of our home. Those things I was glad to get as they are important to have anyway – with children or not. Our home was inspected and we passed with flying colors (it wasn’t even a hard thing to do). The required smoke detectors, fire exit plan, and fire extinguisher were all accounted for.
I think the hardest part was waiting for the first set of kids to show up after the social worker confirmed that we were available to house them. It was past 9:00 PM when the call came in and the kids got to the house at about 10:00PM. Yes, I said kids. Parental instincts kicked in and they were in bed at about 1:00AM after a rough night. Poor children, they had suffered a long night and now they had an opportunity to get some peaceful sleep.
What can I say, the rest just happened and it all worked out in the end. They have been re-unified with their birth family since then and it has been a great reunion. We have decided to continue in this path and have children with us now. When we talk to others about this, the usual response is, “I couldn’t do that…it would be too hard to let them go.” It’s a valid point but consider this, the effect you have on children in need and the lasting impression made on them is one that is worth any ounce of suffering incurred. It is much better to suffer a small loss but to have provided a life-changing and positive timeframe in the life of a child is truly priceless. I know those kids won’t forget us and we will not forget them.
If you’ve ever thought about pursuing foster care or adoption, let me encourage you. It may just be what you have been looking for all along – I know it was for me.