You read that right the other day (if you made it all the way to the last line), Jason and I are becoming foster parents. I feel the need to explain why we’re doing this crazy thing. It’s not because we can’t have kids biologically or that we’re impatient with trying (though that might be a valid reason for some people.) It’s not because we want to adopt and becoming foster parents is an easier and cheaper way to do it (though it is definitely cheaper and in some ways might be easier.) Our reason is ultimately because God has called us to do this. He has put it heavily on our hearts the past few months and has made it clear that this is His plan for us. We probably will have kids biologically some day. We probably will adopt one day. But today, we are moving down the path of becoming foster parents.
Our pastor Lindell Cooley often says God can’t steer a parked car. Jason and I have talked about adoption occasionally over the last decade but this past year we started researching it and talking about it more. Through online exploration we found our way to foster care and I felt a new door creak open in my heart, revealing a passion God had been quietly working on for many years. We talked about it, prayed about it and took the first step of faith by calling around to the local foster care agencies to find out where we’d be a good fit and how to get started. The car moved into drive and God has been steering it ever since. It’s picking up momentum and we’re fully trusting Father that it’s going to be an exciting, amazing ride, and though scary at times, we know He is in control and lovingly directing us.
Here’s how it works, in case you’re as unfamiliar with the foster care system as we were a few months ago. When child abuse or neglect is discovered kids are removed from their parents and taken into state custody. The state makes every effort to locate another family member or family friend who can care for the kids. If no family member can be found, the kids will be placed with foster parents who are licensed and trained by the state. The goal in almost all cases is for the kids to eventually be reunified with their birthparents. The birthparents are given an outline of the aspects of their lives that need to get in order over a certain timeline so they can get their kids back. There is a real ministry opportunity for foster parents to build relationships with birthparents to encourage them and cheer them on towards restoration of their family. A judge with the guidance of case workers and lawyers will determine if and when the kids can be returned to their birthparents. If the parents are unable or unwilling to comply with the courts, sometimes their parental rights are terminated. (Around 25% of the time.) At that point, the children become legally free to adopt and the state tries to find a permanent home for them. The foster parents are typically the first choice if they are willing to adopt because the kids already have formed healthy, loving attachments there.
Our plans are to open our home up to a child or sibling set of 2 (they try really hard to keep siblings together) up to age 5. We understand and support that the goal in most cases is for the kids to be reunified with their parents. However, if we are caring for any kids who become adoptable, we will likely adopt them. The state covers all costs for adoption and offers foster parents a daily stipend to assist with costs for child care (food, clothing, medical expenses, etc.) There is minimal monetary cost to us through this process but the potential emotional cost is high. We have 3 more weeks of training, then 30 days or so of home studies. We should be certified and can take our first placement by sometime in June.
The most common reason I hear for why someone says they could never be foster parent is that it would hurt too much to fall in love with a child and then have to let him or her go. I know it’s true. It will hurt. It will probably tear our hearts out. It might just kill us. Maybe everyday. I’m pretty sure that’s God’s plan. Because the more we die, the more He can live in us and through us. These kids need the kind of unconditional love, acceptance, healing, restoration, patience, forgiveness and joy that we, in our human limitations, cannot offer. But God can. He is more than able to take care of His babies. He will take care of these dear little ones. He will take care of us. He will take care of you.
How you can help:
Pray for us. We’ll take all the strength, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, energy, unity, etc. that God is willing to pour out.
Pray for the kids. There are approx. 9,000 kids in foster care in Tennessee right now. And probably many more who are in abusive situations that have not yet been reported. Pray for their safety and protection. Pray for their salvation. Pray that they would be moved to a better situation. Pray against fear, bitterness, lies from the enemy.
Pray for the parents. Pray for wisdom and good decisions, for restoration and salvation. Pray for humility to ask for help and resources to meet their needs and their kids needs.
Pray for more foster and adoptive parents. There are kids here in Tennessee and every state, babies not yet born all across the US, and children all around the world who need homes. I can’t wait for the day when there are waiting lists of foster parents in this country because there are more safe homes ready to accept children than there are hurting kids who need loving parents. I believe it will happen someday. I’ve heard a statistic that if 1 family out of every Christian church in the United States would foster children, there would be no more kids waiting for homes in this country.
Will this affect my blog? Yes. How—I’m not sure yet. Even though my blog tagline is “musings on a life inspired by art, faith and family” I realize most of my posts are home related. Foster parenting weighs heavier on the faith and family side of things, however art is infused through every aspect of our lives and our home is our favorite canvas. For now, I’m planning on writing about our foster parenting journey at least once a week. We’re currently in the rapid-pace process of education and training, going to appointments, and filling out stacks of paperwork. We are also in hyper-nesting mode preparing our home with projects (like the chalkboard door, repainting the nightstand, finishing up the fence) and researching and shopping for kid stuff (like strollers, cribs, beds, car seats, toys). So I’ve got plenty of bloggy material, is what I’m saying. If you’d like to hear more or less about our foster parenting adventure, please let me know in the comment section below.