Foster Love

This week we announced to the world (aka our social media accounts) that we are in the process of becoming a licensed foster family. It’s an exciting and busy time as we complete paperwork, wait to begin our foster parent training classes, and prepare our home for more kiddos.

While we’ve had the pleasure of sharing our hearts for foster care with a few people, we realize that many of our friends and family may have questions for us. Here’s a a little more about what our foster care journey looks like…

Why are you choosing to foster?

Because Jesus, plain and simple. We believe that God creates families and longs for them to be together. And while sin and brokenness may cause families to be apart, that’s not God’s desire. The “goal” of foster care is family reunification, and we know that God 1) desires for this to be true and 2) is capable of the redemption and reconciliation necessary to make it happen. We want to join in the work He’s doing in supporting and healing families.

And because God took my interest in working with kids and turned it into a passion for serving families in our community. I studied Psychology and Sociology in college because I knew I was interested in working with people, specifically children and families. Throughout college, I worked in an on-campus preschool and got lots of experience with kids, and while I enjoyed my time there, I knew teaching wasn’t my passion and I was interested in working with a more vulnerable population. For a few years, I debated getting a MSW to start a career as a social worker in family services. I thought about trying to work for DCFS or for an adoption agency, but I also knew that my greater desire was to have a family and stay home with my kids. I decided against getting my MSW and am grateful to now spend my days with my little E, but my interest in foster care didn’t fade away. After watching friends become foster parents, following blogs and Instagram accounts run by foster mamas, and doing a lot of research on the system, I knew that God was leading me to this decision.

It took a little longer for Austin to get on board with the idea, but he’s now just as excited as I am and we’re glad to enter into this together.

Are you hoping to adopt through foster care?

No. Yes. It’s complicated.

We’re becoming foster parents because we want to care for hurting children and support/encourage their families towards reunification whenever possible. So do we hope to adopt? No. While it will very sad to say goodbye to children we’ve cared for, we very much hope to send them home to safe, healthy, and loving birth parents. We want these families to be able to be together and we’re committed to fighting for that.

But. Unfortunately reunification is not always possible. Sometimes the children can’t return home and in that case, the best thing for them is permanency. Adoption is incredible and we would love to grow our family that way if our children’s cases go that direction. So while it’s not our first hope, we certainly aren’t against the possibility of adoption.

So it’s complicated and I have a lot of feelings about it. At the end of the day, we want what’s going to be best for these kids and for their families, whatever that looks like.

Are you worried about how this will affect your daughter?

Absolutely not! E just turned one and I know that it’s going to be a long time before she fully understands what foster care is. I’m sure that it’s going to be a big adjustment for her as we welcome new children into our home and even harder when we say goodbye to them. But we don’t want to avoid things just because they may be painful. We want to show E very practically what it looks like to love and serve others. I’m confident that this experience will grow her in incredible ways and am very excited for her to be joining us in this journey.

When will you be licensed?

Last week, we submitted our official application with DCFS including background check paperwork and fingerprinting. Each member of our family needs to have a doctor’s appointment for a physical to show that we are healthy enough to care for children. Then Austin and I need to take 39 hours of foster parent training classes (called PRIDE). We hope to take these classes in July/August. While that’s happening, we each have a long questionnaire to fill out so our licensing work can learn all about our family and we need to prepare our house for more kids. Finally, our worker will come out for a final walk through of our home and we will receive our license.

There’s really no telling how long all of this might take (it is the Illinois government after all), but we’re hoping for it to be completed around September.

What type of children will you take?

We are planning on being licensed for two children ages 0-3. This is just our preference given our current family situation and comfort levels in parenting. It may change as time goes on and we feel more comfortable caring for older kids, but I have no idea how I would parent a 9 or 12 or 17 year old right now! What do big kids and teens do? How do you help with homework? Puberty? Screen time? I don’t even know! Maybe we’ll get there in a few years!

Are you worried that you’ll get too attached?

So many people (myself included at one point) say “I could never be a foster parent, I’d get too attached”.

But here’s the deal, attachment is exactly what we want. Children coming into care have had their lives uprooted. They NEED attachment, and we want them to form strong bonds. That’s going to create trust and stability that will be so beneficial to them.

And us? 100% we’re going to love these kids. We’re going to rejoice with them at every new milestone and we’re going to mourn every brokenness. Saying goodbye to them is going to suck. A lot. But if I hurt because I’ve loved as fully as I could and done what I can to make a difference for these kids, that is completely fine by me.

How can we support you/the kids/the system?

So glad you asked! Being a foster parent isn’t the only way to be involved with serving children in care and their families. There’s SO many ways you can help.

Ways you can support us:

1) Pray for us! We are absolutely not capable of handling all this, but we know that God is, so we’re handing it over to Him. Pray for wisdom, patience, and an abundance of love to pour out from us.

2) Help us transition! Welcoming new children into our home is going to be chaotic at times, so lift our burden just a little. Bring over a meal, offer to babysit, come do our dishes. Really and truly that’s going to be HUGE for us.

3) Send us a gift! We have tons of baby stuff already, but there a few things we need as we get our house ready. We put together a “foster care” registry for some of the items we still need. You can find it here.

Ways you can support the kids:

1) Love them fully! While these kiddos are with us (and even after they leave) they will in every way be our children. Don’t pry about the details of their case, don’t refer to them as “foster children”, don’t treat them any different than you might treat E. Offer them hugs, read them books, get excited over every new milestone.

Ways you can support the system:

1) Mentor! Mentor foster youth, teens to have aged out, or parents who are working towards reunification. They need your support and encouragement and to know they are valued.

2) Work with the system! Become a social worker, a lawyer, a GAL, a CASA. There are so many people working for these kids, but there are still so many more needed.

3) Advocate! Read, listen, learn more and then speak up. We need ideas of how to improve the system, how to support families better so that kids don’t need to be removed, and how to work together to serve our neighbors well.

Want more ideas on how to serve? Check out this great post from my favorite foster blog!

Have more questions for us? Send me a message, I’d love to answer them!

Thanks friends!