A common statement among prospective foster parents is, “I’m just waiting for the right time.” Well, when is the right time? How do you know when it is the perfect time to become a foster parent? If you have been waiting for that “right time” or are on the fence about becoming a foster parent, take a minute to read this story below, written by one of our foster parents.
My husband and I first had thoughts of becoming foster parents when our youngest child was just a year old. We knew that choosing this path was a massive commitment. We were willing but there were so many details that needed to be worked out first. He and I faltered back and forth as to who was ready and when we should start the process. I was ready, he was not. He would be ready, and then I would have my reasons as to why it was not a good time.
At this time, we faced some above-average obstacles in life. We did not have family living near us. My husband just changed jobs, again. We just moved, again. I had received a medical diagnosis that set me back physically, and had just started being able to climb stairs, again. Our oldest son struggled with some illnesses and had just started a new med, again. Our new house needs a lot of work and progress is really slow because we are doing the work ourselves (oh, no, not again!).
When things settle down…When we have formed a tight support network of new friends…When we meet more people from church…When I am 100% healthy…When you are settled in your new job…When we get unpacked…When we finish at least half of the remodeling…When the boys are better behaved… The legitimate reasons for not starting the process continued. We have to have it all together before starting this, right?
One morning during a business trip, my husband called me early and said, “I had a dream. I can’t really explain it, but we need to start the foster care process.” He spoke with such conviction. But….but…how can we bring a child into this mess?! We have never even met any foster parents. That day we began not only listening, but acting.
Our first long-term foster placement came into this mess of ours. But he didn’t see a mess. He saw a loving family, food in the kitchen, and three meals a day. He went to school and attended church for the first time. He developed friendships, ate new healthy foods, rode an escalator, had a birthday party, saw the ocean, and created his own ‘fun day journal’ to document it all. He learned responsibilities and roles in a family, learned manners and social skills, and learned to pray. He made the honor roll for the first time. He was baptized. He didn’t notice the trim missing in some rooms or that some closets were without doors. He didn’t notice the dated cabinets and kitchen appliances, only the awesome food prepared and served in that kitchen. He didn’t notice the days when I was feeling poorly or my husband was stressed with work. He saw only a movie and popcorn night with brothers.
Early one morning, I was taking my foster son to the dentist before school, in the rain, running late. Cold, wet, grumbling to myself about schedules, appointments, time, etc., driving down our rural road, a massive mutant turkey flew out and I hit it straight on. We both screamed. I kept driving to make that appointment on time. During my foster son’s procedure, I called my husband to tell him about the turkey. He asked me if it did any damage to the car. I went out and checked. Sure enough, it cracked the front bumper and grill. Ugh. I sensed a hint of doubt in my husband’s voice as to the size of this turkey. Once we were in the car, I told my foster son that we were going to school the long way as we were going to go get that turkey! He squealed with delight. We slowly drove through the spots where we thought it was. We spotted it in a ditch, but had to safely park down the road. We ran in the rain to grab the dead bird. It was so heavy that we each held a leg as we ran back to the car carrying the beast. As we were running, in the rain, carrying a dead turkey, my foster son called out, “This is the best day of my life! This is going in my fun journal for sure!” In that moment, I realized that something remarkable had happened. My foster son had learned resiliency in a less than ideal situation. He felt happiness and laughter instead of anger and aggression when things didn’t go as planned. Our self-perceived chaos was his calm.
Several months into having our foster son in our home, he became eligible for adoption. While we knew that we were not going to be his adoptive family, we wanted to hold on to our time with our foster son. Just a few days later though, we knew that although so very painful and difficult, we had to tell our decision to the agency without any delay.
In time, we were able to have our foster son’s adoptive family over for dinner so that they could meet him, see where he has been living, and see him socialize without pressure. Our whole family took him to their house for the first time to spend his first two nights with them. We have experienced birthdays, sleepovers, and holidays together. We are the extended family that he never had.
We still don’t have doors on our closets and have unpacked boxes in the attic. The kitchen is still outdated and barely functioning and there are days I don’t feel well. Yet, despite these things, we will continue fostering children, knowing that our worst days can be their absolute best.
If you are interested in being a foster parent in Harrisonburg, Fredericksburg, or Winchester, Virginia, please contact us today!