Foster Care Part….basically this one is just random.
As I began thinking of my Foster Care Journey Part 2 I started to feel that I needed to address a few things before continuing our story.
Many people have seen our video “A New Family” that our church (Foundations Church) put together (if you haven’t seen it, I think it’s important to see it in order to understand most of my foster care blogs). The video rocks me to my core every time I see it; but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The focus of that video is all of the good that came out of this story and how foster care really can change lives for people. The focus wasn’t going to be on the tears, frustration, exhaustion, etc that came from being a foster family (it is assumed that most people would know that is there; but maybe not). When I watch it, not only am I blown away by the fact that it actually happened or all of the positivity that came out of it, but all of the emotions from those 9 months (and the months following) come FLOODING over me. ALL. OF. THEM.
When we got our first foster children, we knew NOTHING about this family. Nothing. We knew something bad enough happened that these children needed a safe place to stay and we were the ones who had been asked to care for them. First, we were not the same tribe so there was the possibility in the beginning that they would be moved (see how it works is when a child is removed, DHS looks for potential options in a certain order; they look for kinship, then same tribe if the child is tribal, then just any tribe if the same tribe is not available, and then last but not least, just any foster family. They keep searching these options even after a child is placed in a home).
We were #3 on the list; different tribe but a tribe nonetheless. We knew there was no kinship available but we knew the tribe they came from was bigger than ours and there was that potential. We wouldn’t have been prepared for it, but the thought was there. We were told until the child hits 3 months in your home, just know they could be moved for whatever reason DHS/the tribe says. Until they hit 6 months there is still a slight possibility (but after 3 months you could probably safely assume they would be there until they moved home).
See, when a foster child is placed in your home, your first thought is (well your first thoughts are all over the place but your first coherent thought) is NOT, “oh this child might be moved to another home”, you probably, as a normal human being, go straight to “what if we get to keep them?”. It’s natural. You’re an adult who was just brought a child, obviously you’re going to think about that. You KNOW they are your foster child but you don’t KNOW that the parents will succeed right away so you do think it; it’s ok. So in the video, which was made 9 months after our first children went home, we didn’t focus on the first few months of our foster care journey and the times we were told that we would probably end up with them; we focused on all of the good that was done during the time they were in our home and then the follow up (also known as bridging) that continued after our kids moved home.
That video came from a lot of tears, frustration, exhaustion, moments of weakness, moments of not being as humble as I should be, more tears, conflicting feelings as things happened with the case, trying to be positive for the parents but also knowing I wanted the WORLD for our kids, GRACE…so.much.grace, faith (that what we were doing/going through was for a purpose higher than us), again more tears and so many questions. It came from court hearings, visits, phone calls, home visits from workers, doctor visits for kids, sick days taken off for kids, trying to navigate how to talk to people your age while walking with them and their children to your car where their children will get in your car and leave with you, overnight visits which tore our hearts out, emotional toddler evenings after visit days. 9 months of waiting in the car for 5-10 minutes before walking into get the children from their parents at visits because the anxiety washed over you every single time.
Foster care is not easy. Not all journeys end with bio parents who decide to not only allow you in their lives but openly acknowledge what they did was wrong, fix it, and then share that with the world to make others better. Not all bio parents would accept an invitation to church, but ours did. I do not think they accepted that invite on their own. I believe the prayers we prayed for them and over them and specifically about them did not go wasted.
Foster care is hard. When I started I knew 2 people personally who fostered but as I write this I know multiple people going through their very first cases (and it brings back every.single.memory from our first case). I know the frustration, the feeling of ZERO CONTROL, hopelessness, exhaustion (from trying to do it all). I know it and I feel it with you.
If you’re a foster parent who is new to this gig, DON’T GIVE UP. God called you to this for a reason and no matter the amount of time you get to have with a child, YOU get that time. YOU are making a difference (even if it feels insignificant and not fair at the same time). You cannot change the beginning but you can change the ending (even if that ending is not with you).
If it were easy, more people would do it. This is our journey and I am just so proud of each and every person who has stepped into it with faith. We do not have control but neither do the judges, workers, parents, or even “the system”. We know who has control and even in the hardest of hard moments, we HAVE to remember that.
*and if you know a foster family, give them grace. Don’t remind them that this is what they signed up for; they know that and it doesn’t take away all of the hard stuff. Be kind because you don’t always know all of the hard, behind the scenes things. Assume that there are hard, frustrating things happening and be kind to them. Be supportive. We heard this from time to time and it’s just not something that’s necessary