Recently, we made a huge life decision. I know...another one!
Just know like all of our other decisions we didn't come to this lightly, without weighing the pros or cons. We've thought about doing this for awhile, but it was never the right time for our family.
Recently, Chase and I have decided to become foster parents!!!
I know, I know...that probably came out of no where! But this has been something we've discussed doing since before we were married. After we had Haven we quickly came to the conclusion that we are done-zoids when it comes to having more children naturally. Sure, its partly to do with my mean old uterus, but a lot of it has to do that we are just purely content in having just two kids the ole natural way. I know, not very normal in Utah, but then again I don't claim to be a normal Utah resident.
Many may not know that I have a degree in Psychology and that one of my main interests during school was of children who have been through trauma. I also plan to become a caseworker in either adoption or for CPS. Eventually I want to get my LCSW but dont plan on pursuing that until my kids are in school. So I am not uneducated in what we will be faced with as a family and I know that foster care isn't for the faint hearted. It's going to be hard work. It's going to require sacrifice of our time and attention, but its something we are both extremely passionate about.
I also believe in the training we are recieving from DCFS and the support system they have set up for foster parents.
When we were dealing with infertility we briefly looked into doing foster care to adopt. It was a cheap way of adopting and we liked the idea of helping children in need. But our hearts weren't ready to be broken when they were already broken into pieces over not being able to concieve. When it came down to it we wanted a baby and we wanted one that was going to be ours with a ZERO percent chance of being taken away. In foster care that just isn't ever a guarantee. We had to deal with our own baggage before we brought that into an already difficult situation.
Our hearts were just not ready for it.
I'm so glad we waited because our lives are in such a different place right now. We are completely content with our two children. And we are going into foster care with the perspective that our main goal is for reunification to the birth parents, not for adoption. We are very open to the possibility of adoption if that is on the table but its not what we are seeking.
One big hurdle was also the fear that I would be so heartbroken if reunifcation occured. But I had to change that perspective because in reality thats very selfish. If you only help people for the prospect of what you may or may not get out of it then you aren't thinking about the person in need but only about yourself. It's an understandable concern and I'm sure when that happens to us it will be difficult but I see no reason for that to be a reason NOT to do it.
Another thing...I understand why people may have reservations doing foster care especially when having young children. You don't know what these kids have been through and you wouldn't want to invite these kids to cause physical or emotional harm to your biological children. We understand this concern but we have taken the adequate provisions within our power and with our caseworker to prevent this. I have worked with children that have had traumatic pasts so I am not naive to this concern. And although these children can be a handful its important to remember that these kids need love and attention too. They aren't black sheep who need to be turned away. They are CHILDREN. Most of them are absolute sweethearts in a sticky situation.
In foster care they have 3-4 levels of placement difficulty. The first level is the easiest and most basic physical/emotional needs and up to the most difficult of 3-4. For first time foster parents they almost always match you with level 1 placements. As DCFS trains you more and you gain more experience they give you more difficult placements if that is what you want.
When I was in high school we had a family member come to us in need for a friend to have a place to stay for awhile. It was a man who had a family and was traveling. He was in a sticky situation and needed a temporary place to stay and so they thought of us. We had 3 open bedrooms and 1 open bathroom. We had plenty of space. My dad and I were very reluctant. We didnt know who this guy was and I was a little creeped out that he would be living near me--a teenage girl. I let fear get in the way of not helping this guy who was in need of help. My dad said the final say was up to me since I'd be the one who'd be in the same area of the house as him. I told my mom absolutely not! Then my mom said well I hope that when we sing the hymn "Because I Have Been Given Much" we can keep a straight face. I stuck my nose in the air and said "Too bad! It's just not smart."
Sure, maybe I saved myself from a lot of heartache and a bad situation but I still think about that man very frequently. I let my judgments and preconcieved notions get in the way of helping someone out. I really regret turning away that man that needed help. And have decided to not let fear stand in the way of helping others.
Does that mean that I won't be smart and put my children in a bad situation? Absolutely not! We've decided that teenagers are out of the question for the time being. We have asked for children from the ages of 0-5 and no older than 10 if in a sibling pair. We will be able to hear the background of every case before we accept or decline (as much as the caseworker knows of course). And we are asking for the most basic of needs to begin with. I won't ever put my kids in a situation that could put them at risk. My children will never be alone without my supervision. In fact our trainer said the first 6 months of any match he suggests watching the sibling interactions very very closely.
With that said, I know there are reservations and frankly people can think what they want. I understand foster care hasnt been a positive experience for everyone but we've done our research and feel comfortable with the decision we've come to.
We hope to expand our family through adoption of older legally free children but we're not going into it for that reason. We want to teach our girls to love unconditionally even if there is a chance that child wont get to join our family.
We appreciate others kind words of encouragement, but frankly I don't want to hear anything negative about our decision. We get its not for everyone and some people may disagree with our decision but if you feel that way please keep it to yourself.
Chase and I are beginning the 32 hour training every tuesday and thursday for the month of Februrary. After that we will get a homestudy and background check done and have to fill out a mountain of paperwork. They also have great support groups of other foster care parents in our area which I think will be such a vital thing to have. At that point we will then just have to wait for a match. It could take awhile to get a match or it may take no time at all. We are very excited for this next chapter in our lives!