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|02-02-2013, 08:57 AM||#1|
WHY I foster - My story. What's yours?
I love this forum. It feels like such a safe place. A place of support and not judgement. A place I find myself running to several times a day when things are tough. Through the last year or two, I have watched so many of your stories unfold. I feel as if some of you are truly my friends. It is weird how faceless people become those you hold close to your heart.
There is so much going on lately in this forum. So many of us, seem to need to run here for support, encouragement, someone who understands. Some of those questions have been aimed at me, Does it get eaiser with time? How are you staying positive with your situation with Hope? Then other questions or comments from strangers, questioning our motives or even comments like I could never do that. It has really gotten me thinking a lot lately.
So I want to share my story and I would love to hear yours whether you foster, foster/adopt or just adopt the "regualar" way.
I guess if I titled this it would be: How God has Changed Me through Fostering. It is more of a testimony, I guess.
Mine is a story that started in heartache. All I every wanted to do or be was a Mommy. It did not come easy for me, I became a stepmom to four boys and unfortunately that added to the heartache. It was a very difficult situation which made me question whether I was even fit to be a "real" mom. We spent thousands of dollars that we didn't really have with many surgeries, failed adoptions and failed IF treatments. Twice during this 14 year struggle, we began the licensing process to foster only to have that to fail. I have always been a person of strong faith but even that had been shaken to the very core. I was truly 100% broken and mear shell of a person.
In January 2009 after a year straight of intense IF treatments we decided to try for the third time to get licensed to foster. It was a last ditch effort at becoming a forever mommy. I went in prepared to have my heart broken again. I would either get wanting to be a mom out of my system and we could just move on and grow old together. Or somehow someway we would get a forever child. We were opened to pretty much anything under the age of five and opened to most Special Needs. At this point we were getting "old", I was 38 and my husband was 46 ... to us it was now or never. Now, we still had some ideas of what we wanted. We were open to foster any child but when it came to adoption we would only adopt girls and we needed to share at least part of our race with them.
We were licensed in October 2009, the licensing process did not go easily and we almost quit before we ever got started. And then the first 6 months was absolutely horrible. One bad placement after another, our house became a revolving door to kids that just didn't fit our family. It just wasn't working .... more heartache. I just didn't know how much more I could take I was emotionally raw. At one point we took a break putting our license on hold for about 3 months. I wanted to quit, fostering was making me more miserable, beating up on me more, reminding me of what I didn't have. I had ran a home child care since 2000 and prided myself in caring for young children .... I was began to doubt even that part of my life. I was angry with DCS, angry at the bio parents, mad at God because how could he let someone like them have a kid and not me. Blah, blah, blah!!!! The problem was me. Yes, the system isn't perfect. Yes, a lot of these bio shouldn't get to be parents. Yes, some of these kids are hard to care for, hard to love. I was just so focused on fostering being about me.
I decided that I couldn't do this fostering stuff anymore and began looking at photolisting sites. We decided to just pursue adopting from foster care. Our state has a Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP). So we decided to become SNAP licensed. During this same time, God began softening my heart to start taking placements again. We decided to take only 1 child at a time under 18 months. I was told we wouldn't get many placements but I was ok with that. At the time, I still had daycare children in my care during the day. We began getting ok placements, nothing that could be forever but ones that made me feel better about what we were doing.
It must be during this time the God began changing my heart, softening it, maybe even healing it some. We had this one placement of a little AA boy who was 18 months. He was not at all what we wanted forever but he was the first child that I fell for. He was with us Mother's Day weekend, only four days. How I fell so madly in love with him, I will never understand but I did. I cried like my heart was being ripped out when he left. I knew then that this really wasn't about what I thought I wanted but about who and what God had for me. God was changing me, changing what I thought I wanted or needed.
Then we were placed with a sweet 9 month old AA boy. He was with us several months. His was the first RU case that I worked. All the others had went back home quickly or went to extended family. I knew he wasn't staying from the beginning so I never went there. At this point, I think that I thought our forever child would be a SNAP adoption so we were in the foster only mindset. I never really had wanted to get to know the bio family. I figured if their child was taken away I definitely didn't want them around me or the kids I cared for. But quickly the case went to unsupervised visits with Dad and I was having to make the exchange. I learned during this case that bioparents aren't all bad ... some you even begin to root for. I was so happy when this child went to live with his Daddy a few days before his first birthday. God was changing me, changing how I looked at the bio families, making me less fearful, opening my heart to have compassion towards them.
During this time, we began making inquiries from the State photolisting of children available to adopt. We decided that a girl up to age 10 could fit nicely into our family. We actually were picked out of over 100 inquires to be one of 3 couples interviewed for a sibling boy/girl set. They were perfect, ages 3 and 1 a beautiful same race sibling set with some special needs but not too much. We just knew this was it. My husband was excited, I was excited. We sailed through the interview and met the other potential couples. We left there congratulating ourselves, we just knew these were our forever kids. About 10 days later we recieved the letter. The letter that said how much they appreciated us interviewing and felt that we would make wonderful parents to a child someday but they were chosing a different couple. I was sad, I cried, my husband cried but we were ok. God was changing me, changing how I reacted to loss, making me more willing to move on, making me more willing to allow Him to chose for us.
Next I faced the ultimate challenge, we recieved what we thought was "the call." We were called to pick up a newborn boy at the hospital, he was born drug positive, the mom had previous TPRs and RU was unlikely. We showed up to the hospital, the staff all treated us as if we were the new forever parents. They referred to us as the adoptive parents it was a surreal experience. We just knew this was it. We were in love, we held him constantly took pictures, began calling him Zachary. My husband drove by a sign that said Zachary and Sons ... so he just knew this was it too. Family and friends came to see our new addition. He was perfect, we were in love. A week later, we recieved a call that a second cousin wanted him and passed background checks. We had an hour to get him to the DCS office. We were shattered, I had never felt that kind of heartache. We knew at that point, we would never feel complete without having a forever child. We knew that we would never stop until we had a child. A close friend, actually offered to be a surrogate for us after watching us go through this. I cried and grieved until I thought I would shatter. Then on the third day, I woke up and made 2 phone calls. One call was to my fertility doctor to schedule another round of treatment. The next to DCS telling them that we were ready for another placement and what a pleasure it had been to have a week with that precious newborn boy. The strength to make that call could have only come from the Lord, I still don't know how I made that call. God changed me through this He made me stronger, He made me to lean more on Him than ever. But He change my husband, Duane too. Duane said to me after this that although he has always wanted me to get to be a mom and wanted a daughter, he now knew what it would be like to have a baby with me. He told me that somehow, someway, someday we would get a forever child. God strengthened him too. Little did we know that while we were facing some of our darkest days God was weaving together His forever plan for us.
I know that I have shared our story of Caleb many times on this forum. He is truly my miracle baby. Caleb's birthday is 2 days before Zachary's. Caleb's birthday is my mom and dad's wedding anniversary. My dad passed away when I was just a child. Caleb was a preemie and was in the hospital while we we had Zachary. We literally got the placement call for him just days after Zachary left. I wonder what would have happen if I never called DCS to get back on the placement list. Caleb was a third sibling, the adoptive family of his sisters prayed about whether to take him or not. For whatever reason, God did not give them peace about accepting the placement. They were sad and a grieving but began to pray that he would go to a christian home, that he would be safe and loved. And then they dared to add to that prayer, Lord, if there is any way for us to know him, to be apart of his life, for him and his sisters to grow up knowing each other. They put it in God's hands. I know now how hard that was for them, how much they grieved in making that choice.
When I recieved the call for Caleb, they begin to tell me a little bit about the other family who had Caleb's sisters. I already knew them, the mom was a close friend to one of my close friends. I already had met both of Caleb's sisters I had played with them at a birthday party. I knew their story and parts of the birthmom's story. Only God could have orchestrated this miracle. I saw God so much in this journey, His hand on these children's lives, on my life. Caleb's case was a faith walk. It didn't always go easily and we had a few scares along the way. As I fell more and more in love with Caleb, I began to heal. I began to become whole again. I always say that God used this little boy to be my Heart Mender. God had changed me, I began to see how this journey wasn't about me. I began to see myself as part of their story instead of him being part of my story.
We took awhile to be just a family to bond to our little boy. One day, I began to feel that familiar pull of the heart strings to begin fostering again. It was different now. I found myself not judging so much but putting myself in others shoes. I wonder more about the lives of the bio parents, what was their lives looked like growing up. I try to get to know them more and not judge or think of myself as better than them. I am not saying it is easy but how would I feel if I lost my child? I have more compassion towards CPS/DCS and the caseworkers. How do they do it everyday? I find myself trying to be an encouragement to them. I ask them about case loads and try not to pull on them so much. I find myself trying to make their jobs easier when I can. Fostering just doesn't seem about me anymore, it is about the child. I am a part of their lives, not that they are apart of mine. When I get discouraged, I try to remind myself that it really isn't about how I feel. I spent many years focused on how I felt and I was really miserable. When I take my feelings out of the equation and just do what I know is right for the child it changes things and I am a whole lot less miserable.
So, does fostering get easier ... it has for me but I believe it is because I have let myself be changed. How am I coping with my situation with Hope? By thinking of how the aunt must feel having lost her sister and now possibly her niece. How would I feel if I was her? Do I think that I may do things differently? Yes, under the situation of my life but I have not lived one day in her life nor do I know her obstacles. How will I feel if Hope leaves, heartbroken yet honored that I got to be her mom for her first year. My heartbreak will never compare to what I saw her birthmom go through when she lost Hope. How these birthfamilies survive the loss of their children, I will never know? If she does leave, I trust it will because there is another child or children that God wants us to help.
So, when someone says, How do you do it? or I would fall in love with them all and never be able to let them go? My answer is that it isn't easy but it really isn't about me or my feelings. The reality is there are hundreds of children needing help and I can do my part. I struggle with those who get on their soapboxes and preach about what others should or should not do, I wonder if they are doing their parts.
My life has been forever changed through fostering, I am a better person for it. My motivation to begin and my motivation to continue is very different. I have been blessed through foster care, God used fostercare to fulfill my dream of being a forever mommy. I am beginning to feel grateful for the heartache that brought me to becoming a fosterparent. One day, my house will be full of children that will all be forevers and my journey as a fosterparent will end. I pray that someway, somehow many more are lead to begin this journey. There are always going to be a need for someone to rise up and do their part, to become a part of a child's story whether for a day or a lifetime.
I hope this helps encourage some of you. Maybe my story will help convince one person to become a fosterparent or someone to just continue on their journey.
Be blessed and be a blessing,
Christian Wife to DH married 16 years. Forever mommy to my adopted son #9 C (3 yrs) Currently fostering #20 A our bonus buddy full sibling to my adopted son (16 mths). We have fostered 20 children so far, some with medical special needs. Still hoping for a forever girl.
Last edited by dalynn1997; 02-02-2013 at 09:35 AM. Reason: typos