Monday, March 26, 2012

Here We Are....Again: Foster Care

Truth:  "The system" is brimming with children waiting to be adopted.   Their pictures break.my.heart.

Truth:  Many of these kids are in a sibling group---sometimes 2, 3, 4, 5,  6 or more siblings, all wanting a forever family without being split apart.  And I think, my girls know their biological family members---that is a blessing.  Of course these kiddos need to be adopted together.  Biology matters.

Truth:  Many of these kids are minority children.  

Truth:  In my hearts-and-roses world, I would adopt many of them.  I would fill my house with brown kids.

Truth:  I'm scared what these kids could bring into my home, what they could teach or do to my children, and I'm scared of their pasts and of their futures.

Truth:  There are over 100,000 kids in the US, domestic orphans, waiting to be adopted.  There are hundreds of thousands more in foster care who might become available for adoption.

Truth:  Kids in foster care are at a high risk to become teen parents, become incarcerated, or become homeless. 

Truth:  I've had my kids since a few days after they were born.  I have been the one to nurture them, mold them, teach them.  Yes, they do, without a doubt, mirror their biological parents in many ways.  However, I've been there every step of the way.   Could I take in a five year old and mold him or her into the successful, Christian human being I want them to become?    Or would it be too late? 

Scary truths. 

For one, I've been told that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for my family to be approved to adopt kids older than our current two.

For another, as we know, kids in foster care are in foster care for a reason, or maybe many reasons.  And none of those reasons are pretty.   And can I handle that?  

Oh yes, and there's this thing in my life called Diabetes.  It's pretty much a huge pain in the rear end at all times.   Stress raises my blood sugars.   Oh yeah, and parenthood is stressful.   The more kids, the more stress.

Oh, and adoption, it's a lifelong commitment.   There's no turning back.    At least, I feel that's not an option for my family.  I also feel that fostering is a commitment.  If the kids we foster become available for adoption, wouldn't we want to say yes, we'll take them?  Forever?

I like my Pottery Barn world a little too much.    What I mean is, I have it all, and I know it.    What if some of that is gone?   Am I willing to accept that?   Am I willing to turn my life upside down and inside out for the rest of my life to adopt kids who truly need a forever home?   GULP.

Steve and I are in the process of buying a new home.  It's big.  It's beautiful.   And there is the potential for, get this, 6 bedrooms on the top floor. Six.  A lot of kids could fit into our new home.     The house sits on a large lot.   There's plenty of room for kids to run, play, imagine.   

But I also know me.  I like a good project.  I like planning the next step.    And I don't want to treat adopting children or fostering children like a project, because it's not.   As I approach three months off work (summer, baby!), my heart is stirring.  I feel uneasy.  I've got to do something.

Every single time I sit in church, I think about foster care.  I think about everything we could provide children---a good home, stability, homemade meals, stories, cuddles, play time outside, attention, family, joy, encouragement, an accepting church.  

I think about how foster care is a ministry.  God calls Christians to care for widows and orphans.  What have I really done for either?   I could do something.

Every time I get gung-ho about fostering or adopting from foster care, my drive dies down, fading quickly, after just a few short days, or at best, a few weeks.     These kids need committed parents. 

And the system.  Sigh.  The system.  It's so jacked in our state.   Bio parents are catered to while children linger in the system, broken.   Not fair, I want to scream.

We have cared for two children in the past for our old adoption agency.  One of these children was my oldest daughter's age.  We had him for three weeks.  A few days into his visit with us, Steve and I were captivated by him.  I'm pretty sure he called Steve "Daddy."    He was so precious.   It was so hard to let him go after just three weeks. 

I want to protect my heart.  I don't want to share "my kids" with their biological family members whom I know have chosen behaviors that led to their children being taken from them.   I already don't want to send my foster kids on visits with their families.   I don't want to see the children get buckled into a social workers car and driven away.

I hate the lack of control I will have over these children.

But I just can't stop thinking about saying yes to fostering.

This post has been raw and real.   Don't judge me for my honesty and my misconceptions.  I new to this fostering thing.  I'm talking to foster families, I'm reading books and blogs, and I'm thinking.  

And I'm scared.

18 comments:

Shana said...

Very good post, Rachel.

Rachel said...

Honey you are not the only one who feels this way!!! Did you steal my journal entries?? I have the same fears and the very same thoughts. I, too, think about adopting from foster care a lot. But then I get scared and nervous. The same "scary" things frighten me about the foster care system. But the quote "We have to be blind sometimes to truly see." keeps replaying over in my head. I've been praying a lot lately. Just keep praying!!

Erin @ Sew Abundantly said...

Not judged, but loved for your honesty.

My husband and I just finished our 16 hours of training to become approved foster parents this weekend. I was humbled to be with 15 other adults who were all willing to put their hearts on the line to adopt from the foster care system, most already had kiddos in their home.

We're on the foster-to-adopt track only, for many of the reasons you mentioned but even that is not without a heart risk.

Isn't that what Jesus did, though? Risked loving big? He'll meet you right where He leads you.

Blessings!

Suzanne Slagell said...

This is beautifully written. All of those thoughts and worries and concerns were part of our journey to become foster parents. Some of them are still there as we continue on into our fourth year of doing this. Fostering IS hard. It's worth it.

Just a thought on one of the things you said: In our state, adopting/fostering out of birth order is a county by county distinction. Our county takes it on a case by case basis, a neighboring county basically forbids it. In my anecdotal observations, the bigger, busier counties don't have the luxury of drawing those kind of lines. They need places for kids. Period. If you feel called to that particular road, you could maybe ask around to neighboring counties and see if it would be different.

annieglan said...

It is the hardest thing you will/ would ever do. My number one comment from people is, "I just couldn't do it. I would get too attached and wouldn't want them to leave.". My response is always, "you're supposed to get attached to the children. It's going to hurt; and if it doesn't you're doing a disservice to the child(ren)".

We are waiting to hear about a 1 year old boy from foster care to see if we are matched. We are also active foster parents, and are on the wait list for private adoption.

If you have any questions let me know. I have been dragged through the ringer with our foster kids but I would do it again to have them in my life. Plus every foster child i have met in our agency has been wonderful and would keep them around my daughters.

Anonymous said...

Just do it. The reason it's on your heart is because God is calling you to this. Don't say no. The rewards are going to far outweigh the inconveniences and heartaches.

Crystal said...

It's hard. We were there a few years ago. Was fostering what we were supposed to be doing??? We did have a taste of your state's foster care system when our first match fell through. They pretty much ruined us on foster care. For us we felt like that was a clear No from God on pursuing foster care. But it is still hard, especially when there are so many kids that need good parents....

Magic Brush said...

Hey Rachel...do you remember me from your 2 evenings at The Lighthouse in KC? My husband and I are staring foster to adopt classes in May. I've recently blogged about how God has led us to where we are today. I share all of your concerns yet I know that I know that I know HIs grace is sufficient. Blessings to you. Jennifer

http://www.themagicbrushinc.blogspot.com

emily said...

please keep praying and thinking about it!
we're on the road to adopt from the foster care system in Canada (and our system of adoption is quite different than in the US), so you're in good company.
it's not for everyone but I believe it's for many :)

Kelly the Overthinker said...

Just happened upon your blog...would you allow this post to be reposted on We Are Grafted In (www.wearegraftedin.com)? I so appreciate your honesty and the process God has you in as you consider this for your family. Let me know what you think.
Kelly

Charity said...

I hear you. All these thoughts have most definitely gone through my head. We have a 3 and 1 year old and are going through foster care classes right now. We will only take infants into our home, and sometimes I feel like I'm not doing what is really needed most. I also feel scared about what I'm getting us into, even with an infant. All I can do is follow that Still Small Voice. My dad recently said to me, "Do the hard thing, baby. You won't regret it in the long run."

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel, I just wanted to tell you that you aren't alone in all of these thoughts and fears. My husband and I are finally through all the paperwork and waiting to be placed with a child or siblings. We went through all of these emotions/thoughts (except for the feelings about our other children, since we don't have any :) ). We vacillated a lot, then we took our state's foster care classes which were eye-opening and heart breaking, but solidified our desire to adopt this way. Foster care in our state is not easy, but sounds a little easier than where you live. We are going through an adoption agency which has made the process easier and their classes have been very helpful in feeling like we are ready (as ready as one can be). Anyways, I'm rambling... all this to say thank you for your honesty. I don't know anyone else who has even considered foster care to adoption so it's really refreshing to hear that there are other people who go through these emotions. Thank you for sharing. Meghan

Kelly said...

There is no doubt that fostering is hard, but it is very rewarding as well.

It is a big committment, and effects every member of your family, it is really something to think about. My oldest daughter, my parents, my sister and her family all still think about D our foster son for six months. Even five years later.

I had an older daughter, 14, worked full time, etc. I was spread thin to get D's needs met. Therapy, family visits, doctor/dentist appointments, plus all of our daughter's activities. It was a lot. I can't imagine doing it with two younger kids.

Not to portray everything as negative, because it wasn't all negative.

After D went home, a few months later, we got the call for our Mea, at 13 months old, an adoption placement through foster care.

After much consideration, we decided that in order to give her (and our other daughter) our full attention, we wouldn't be renewing our license, at least until Mea was much older.

R.A. said...

It's wonderful that you're thinking about it. It's wonderful that you're researching it. It's wonderful that you know the painful realities of the foster care system.

I, too, think about fostering all.the.time. I desperately want to foster, but am not currently situated to do so (read: single). It drives me mad that more Christians don't foster, but then I realize in my judgment of others, I'm losing my good judgement - because the difficulties of the system are realisitically more than most can handle, I shouldn't be expecting them to do it. Am I arrogant to think that I can handle it? Maybe...but then, God has put SUCH a passion for this on my heart that I have to say I CAN handle it. If He calls em to it, I can do it. In my weakness, He is strong...I can do all things through HIM who strengthens me.

If God calls you to foster, God will give you the grace to do it. Even if it means saying goodbye way before you want to.

Anonymous said...

We are currently pursuing to adopt from the foster-care system, and we have a 6 month old and a 2 year old. I'm frequently scared about the process and the impact it will have on my family. Our girl's are so young and we don't have family nearby. God has lead us down this path and we are excited, but nervous nonetheless. Thanks for sharing. You're not alone.

Abe and Joni Brandyberry said...

We're just two short weeks away from receiving our foster care license and we're also waiting on a referral from Ethiopia for an international adoption. I would be lying if I would say I'm not totally terrified. Doing two adoptions simultaneously is terrifying and who knows how it will turn out. I'm having a lot of the same fears as you are in regards to fostering but God has made it plain in my heart that this is the direction he is moving. You'll definitely be in our prayers as you consider your next steps!

Breaking Hearts Building Families said...

Love how real you are :) We adopted a sibling group of 3 and had 3 biological children (ages 2,4,6-when we started process).... and I had some of the same fears. I pushed through the fears and somehow got to where I am today--6 sweet, precious children. Glad you are putting them out there and pushing through...!!!!! Would love to be another source to vent, ask q's, etc. IF there is anything Kara and I (Kara and her husband are foster/adopt---we were straight adopt) can do to support you--we are here!

Venessa said...

I came across your blog through Open adoption bloggers. I really appreciate this post! Our church has recently launched a foster care ministry and we are hoping to help 100 children find forever families! It is scary task and one that does take real time commitment so I totally understand your concerns. It is certainly not something our family could do right now, maybe in the future just not now. I will be following your journey.

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