One is a teenager and one is a toddler. And both are girls. My poor husband is going to be outnumbered. He has already requested that friends be his alternate caregiver.
Me? I can't wait to buy clothes for both the kids. My poor husband may need to get an extra job or two in addition to having an alternate caregiver.
2. What made you want to foster?
I've been a social worker for about 5 years now. And since the beginning, I've known I wanted to foster and adopt. There are so many wonderful kids who simply need to be loved and told they are worth something.
We (meaning I) had planned to wait for another year to begin the process, but God apparently had other plans.
3. Do you want your own kids?
I understand this question. It comes from a place of curiosity (I think), but it's always a hard one to answer. I tend to get a little overly passionate when it comes to foster care and adoption, and sometimes I take questions personally.
For me, it doesn't matter if I birth a child or if someone else births the child. They can still be my child even without shared DNA. That being said, I'm going to consider any child that comes into our home my child. And I'll care for them as I would care for my own child.
As far as getting pregnant? I don't know.
4. When did you know that you wanted to be a mother?
I never really wanted to be a mom. I never understood it, and I thought that I would spend my days without children. And then this need for foster parents became very clear to my husband and I, and all of a sudden, I was a mom.
5. What is the hardest thing about fostering?
Our kids aren't in our house yet, so that's hard. The other thing that is so hard is how thankless foster care feels. We have an amazing support system through our church and the close relationships we have with members of our church. But there are a lot of people who don't seem to understand why we're fostering. I want to be able to explain it to them but I tend to get a bit overly passionate, so I'm letting God work on my heart and my tongue so that I can talk to people in a way that will really reach them.
6. How can you foster knowing the kids may leave?
How can I not? Foster care isn't about me or what I'm doing. I'm not doing it for myself. I'm doing it because every child deserves to have somewhere to call home. And I'm doing it because God has called me to. Also I'm not amazing for doing it; I'm simply obedient. And really my life is the one that will be changed more than a child's.
I know not everyone is called to foster, but we're all called to do something. God is the one who will provide guidance on what that something is. And these kids, these wonderful and amazing kids, need as much help and whatever kind of help people want to give.
Someone from our church bought paint so that we could turn our spare bedrooms into homes for the kids. Someone else from our church is going through the painstaking process of taping off chevron and stripes in the rooms. Another friend from church is hemming a prom dress for a girl in foster care. We have friends who have offered to be alternate caregivers and help us bolt furniture into the walls. Justin's grandma gave us a crib. One of the therapist's from my physical therapy donated a small suitace and clothes for the teenager. And countless people are actively praying for us.
Those things mean the world to me. Seeing so many people come together to help us and love on our kids reminds me of what the church is meant to be. I love that we all get to be the church to one another and to kids who may never have known what love is.
7. You get paid for fostering, right?
I hate this question, too. Because it hurts me - cuts me to the core. I know people ask because they don't understand. And I want to educate people. However, I feel like there is such a stigma attached to being paid for foster care.
Do we receive a stipend? Yes. And it all goes back to the kids. We also will receive help with daycare. I equal it to taxes for couples with their own biological children. When you have kids, you get a tax break. When you pay for daycare, you get to write some of those expenses off. We won't get a tax break or be able to write off expenses.
Also, we're not yet approved, and we won't be fully approved when the children get placed. Which means we won't receive the stipend. And I almost don't want the stipend. I know it will help, but I already consider the kids as ours and as such I will do everything I can to care for them - regardless of the stipend.
There are some people who foster for the money, and it makes me sick. These kids are people. They deserve to be loved and not seen as a paycheck. Also the stipend is nothing, so I can't comprehend how or why people would do this for the money.
8. Why did you have a shower?
Because we wanted to celebrate. It doesn't matter that the kids are already born. They deserve just as much celebration as an unborn child. And we wanted to include people in our lives - to show them what we're doing and why. We also wanted people to have the chance to meet our kids. This question hurts me because it makes me feel like I'm worth less than someone having a child biologically, and it hurts me for the kids we're getting because I want to provide as much as I can for them.
I'm so blessed to have a friend who got it and threw us a shower. I loved getting to fellowship and show off our kids. I also loved that other friends brought their foster children. I held one little boy and fell deeply in love with him and his 8-month-ol chunkiness.
And we have a lot of needs. This is our first time becoming parents, and so just like any first time parents, we need things like bottles and cups and playpens and toys and clothes and diapers. We still have a lot of those needs and are on the look-out for good deals. Some of our needs were filled on Sunday, and we are so grateful.
9. What do you need?
We still need diapers. And a stroller. We also need a bedding set. And toys. I would love a second playpen, too. And that's just for the toddler. For the teen, we need things like a hair straightener and a comforter set. I could honestly continue the list, but the stuff isn't the most important thing. Yes, it helps, but love and support and friendship and prayer are more important. God has called us to foster, and so I know He will provide. We're registered at Target and Babies R Us, and I plan to look for similar items at garage sales.
I wish people were more accepting. I wish more people would talk to us about our decision to foster. I wish that people didn't think it was so weird. I know it's different and confusing and that people have a hard time understanding it. But I'd love for people to truly talk to us about it.
I also wish people knew how common it is. Since we announced our decision to foster, we've been able to meet others who share a similar heart, and I've loved getting to know those people and have loved that so many people have come alongside us to help us and support us. It brought me so much joy on Sunday to see that happen.
I also wish people understood how little these kids often have. It doesn't matter how old they are; they still have needs. So many kids in foster care move with just trash bags full of belongings. They store some things at offices because they can't take everything to their new "homes" and often those "homes" are not permanent so they lose more every time they move. That's one thing I want to make sure of. I want every child, especially our soon-to-be kids, that this is their home.
I also wish people knew that they could do something. Really do something to change lives. And I wish people would talk to me about it more. I would love to be able to share my heart.