My Advice to Prospective Foster Parents

A few months ago, I volunteered to be part of the foster parent panel at our agency for prospective foster parents to ask questions, hear our stories, and hopefully learn something.  Attending this class is a requirement for becoming licensed, and I remember how helpful it was to hear the stories of ‘real’ foster parents a few years ago when we were sitting in the class.  So I jumped at the chance to join the panel for the evening to share our story and prayed that someone sitting in the class would be helped by our experience.

After sharing how our family came to be, I wanted to pass on ideas that we had while we were going through the process and preparing for the arrival of a child or children.  

  • Gift Card Shower– many friends and family want to do something for you when they find out you’re becoming foster parents, but registering for gifts when you don’t know the age or gender of the child you’ll be caring for is just not practical.  My co-workers threw a gift card shower so that when the call came, we could go get the things we would need without worrying about the cost.  It was so helpful to have that to prepare for A’s arrival, but especially came in handy when H came to our home with only a few hours notice!  
  • Tour Daycare Centers– While we were waiting for our paperwork to go through to become licensed, we toured daycare facilities so we would be prepared and know which centers accepted CCMS.  We then had a narrowed-down list that we could go to when the call came.  And when the call came, the daycare that was at the top of our list had an opening!
  • Doctors– Another thing we did while waiting to become licensed was look for doctors on our insurance that would also take Medicaid.  By finding a doctor that took both insurances, we were hoping to lessen our chances of having to switch doctors if we did get to adopt.  Since adopting, we are blessed to have been able to stay with the same doctor who we love!
  • Babysitting Training Dinner- The last piece of advice that I have is something we did that I thought was kinda brilliant. 😉  One of the most difficult things about being a foster parent is not being able to call up any of your friends or family to baby-sit unless they’ve been approved by the agency/CPS.  When A and H were placed in our home, so many friends and family wanted to get on our babysitting list so we hosted a dinner at our house and asked our case worker to come teach the SIDS class.  (We’ve had the best case workers!) Then all that was needed was proof of CPR certification, copies of drivers’ licenses, and filling out a form for our agency (which we had copies of so they could do it that night).  We ended up having 5-10 people on our approved baby-sitting list, which made getting a date night out much easier!  It also helped that everyone was already CPR trained through their place of employment.

So there you have it!  My two (er, four) cents for prospective foster parents!

Unsolicited Opinions

A few months ago, I mentioned to someone who was asking about our future in foster care that we were praying about adopting internationally.  I was surprised at their response, especially since they are very aware of how our current family has come to be.

“But there are so many kids here who need homes!”

Seriously?  You’re telling the person who has gone through foster parent training, who has adopted two children through foster care, that there is a need for homes for foster kids here in the US?

It’s amazing (and not in a good way) the things that people feel they can say to you, especially about how your family is built.  It starts with the constant questioning after you’ve been married for an amount of time, then continues on until I guess you get old enough in age to where kids are out of the question or until you send a letter to cease and desist.  Then for us, as we’ve fostered two beautiful children and were blessed to adopt them into our family forever, we’ve been subjected to comments of all kinds.  Some of my personal favorites (ha!) have been:

  • “I could never do what you do.  I would get so attached!  It would break my heart if they were to leave our home.”  (Yep, lucky for us, we got to leave our heart at the door when we signed our papers the day we were licensed.)
  • “I could never take on someone else’s problems.” (This one breaks my heart and makes me feel sick simultaneously.)
  • “Don’t use that word around them!”  (The word? Adopted.  Yes, I was told when I took A and H to get haircuts last week that I should not tell them about being adopted.  I’m going to guess this has to do with something in this person’s history that left a negative connotation on the word, but D and I are committed to the kids knowing their history, and not feeling like we’re keeping anything from them.)

And the comment that started this post,

  • “But there are so many kids here who need homes!” 

It’s not a here vs. there, an us vs. them.  Kids need homes, families, people to come around them and love them through whatever trials, struggles, and challenges they may face.  To make it anything else is to place one’s importance over the other.

As for us, we’re not sure what the future holds.  With a three year old and a two year old, we’re pretty content (and too busy to even think about adding another member to our family).  We continue to pray about different avenues we feel God is leading us toward, and trust in God’s plan for our family.  We also have friends and family who are at different stages of exploring foster care and adoption, so we’re excited to see what happens in the lives around us and are hoping to be able to provide support and encouragement to them on their journey.

Here’s our newest little two year-old:

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 And here’s a picture I didn’t get to post from the night she arrived, but here she is at one month old- straight from the hospital to our home.

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 A on H’s birthday

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 A and H on Easter Day

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