Questions and Answers: Foster Care

{This post originally appeared on Not Quite Qualified. Some of the answers are in the process of changing, but I'll get to that at a later date...}

(Picture taken by AWPhotography... If you're in the OKC area, check her out!)

It's funny how, once children enter you life, people feel as though they have the right to know any amount of personal information. I've never been pregnant, but I've watched friends (and clients) cringe when strangers ask to put their hands on pregnant bellies in hopes of feeling a kick or an elbow.

And yet, people don't generally ask someone how quickly it took to become pregnant. There's no question of how the pregnancy was obtained - the old fashioned way, a turkey baster, IVF, etc. Instead, people accept a pregnancy and reconcile it in their minds as being normal.

Justin and I have always talked about adoption. It was a running joke between the two of us that we didn't really want to create a child. We both knew what we had been like as children and teenagers, and while our parents survived those 18 years, we weren't quite sure we would. We've also joked that we weren't quite prepared to have children that looked like us. While everyone goes through an awkward stages, ours had been a bit more than awkward, so we decided to protect any future offspring from immense awkwardness and simply adopt.

Of course, there were a few years when we weren't even sure that we'd ever have kids - even through foster care and adoption. Children are forever. They require an amount of time and energy that we weren't quite sure we were ready to invest.

But then a situation presented itself. We prayed, and we following the calling firmly planted on our hearts and in our laps. There have been many bumps along the way. We've questioned our sanity and our future more times than I count. But even of the absolute worst days, we know we followed the call and do not look back at the past 10 months with any amount of regret.

The questions have stabilized some, but they still come up when we jokingly explain that we went from 0 to 3 kids in one fell swoop.

So what questions do we get? They vary. These are the Top 10 most often asked questions. As well as the responses I want to give and then what I actually day.
1. Why do you foster?
What I Want To Say: Why did you choose to have biological children? Why does it matter? Why don't you foster? What I Actually Say: We feel called to foster care. And to adoption. For me, personally, I feel it is important to care for children who are already born. There are so many children who need a home and need love.

2. Are you all able to have your own children?
What I Want To Say: Does it matter? {Then several expletives.} 
What I Actually Say: We don't know, but it doesn't matter to us. We consider them our kids. {And sometimes I might delve into the personal a bit more, but for the most part, this is as far as I go.}

3. Are they all siblings?
What I Want to Say: Does it matter? Why do you even care? Regardless of DNA, they live in the same house, so yes, they are siblings. 
What I Actually Say: Yes. We wouldn't have three if they weren't! 

4. Do you have any biological children?
What I Want to Say: Does it matter? Biology does not make one child more "my child." 
What I Actually Say: No.  I don't think we'd be able to have three additional kids on top of biological children.

5. Their parents won't get them back, right?
What I Want to Say: We wish they could. In our heart of hearts, we wish all children could be raised by their parents. We would love to be able to form a mentoring relationship and help to reunify a family. Not a day goes by that I don't realize the aching truth that I am raising children who originally knew someone else as mama. Not a day goes by that I don't feel the weight that accompanies the heartbreak children experienced before they came to live with us. They shouldn't have to be in foster care. 
What I Actually Say: We don't know. All we are here to do is to stand in the gap and love them for as long as we have them - whether that is for a few days, a few months or forever.
6. I don't think I could give them back. How do you do that?
What I Want to Say: So you'd rather not foster and protect yourself while thousands of children suffer and spend nights at the shelter? I don't think I could do that. And it's not like there is any guarantee that you will have a biological child for 18+ years. Nothing is certain.  
What I Actually Say: We take it one day at a time. At the end of the day, it's not our call to make. And really? How do we not?

7. Do they still have visitation with their parents?
What I Want to Say: It's really none of your business. And why does it even matter to you?
 What I Actually Say: {It depends on who is asking and if they have a right to the information.}

8. How long have you had them?
What I Want to Say: Does it really matter? Some days it seems like forever and other time it seems like it's only been days. Some days I feel like I can do this for the rest of my life, and some days I feel like time is crawling.
 What I Actually Say: Several months. Though it often feels like they've always been there.

9. Are you going to adopt?
What I Want to Say: I really can't think about that right now. If I say yes and then something happens, I'll feel awful. But if I say no, then I don't want you to think I'm a terrible person either. It changes on a daily basis. Sometimes an hourly basis. Though I firmly believe every family who does adopt... They always find the right child or children. Somehow it all works out even if it doesn't make sense. 
What I Actually Say: Yes, if that is an option. If not, we will love these kids as though they were ours for as long as we have them.

10. How do you do it (meaning work, school, kids, etc.)?
What I Want to Say: I don't know. Most days, I don't feel like I do anything. Most days, I feel like I let multiple people down all at once. Most days, I feel like it's not okay for me to struggle. I feel like people think I've got it all figured out when they ask that question, and I just don't have anything figured out. 
What I Actually Say: I don't do it. I can't do it. Jesus does it. And really, you just adapt to whatever you have in front of you. Starbucks helps too. 

There's a central theme that runs through those questions. At one point, I called it prying. I found it highly frustrating. And while I still sometimes struggle with the questions (and the nerve), I understand that people are, for the most part, simply trying to understand a foreign concept. It's easy to come to terms with two parents parenting their biological children, but it's nearly impossible to understand parents welcoming in children from difficult places with hard behavior.

I choose to believe that people are inherently good, that the questions they ask come from a place of love and of worry. It doesn't mean that the questions don't hurt. Because they do. I've spent countless hours trying to understand why I have to be different. I've spent countless hours feeling as though I am less than other women and other mothers as I do not have a deep seeded desire to birth a baby and care for said baby from infancy onward.

I have learned much about myself since we first began the journey of approval for foster approximately one year ago. I've realized how hurtful some of the words I spoke were. And I've learned to stop comparing myself, my story, and my venue of motherhood to those of other women. We are all different, and those differences include how we choose to start a family or if we choose to start a family.

I think questions are warranted. They are essential to beginning a dialogue about the need for foster parents. But those same needed questions can also hurt. It's up to you and to me to figure out how to engage in the dialogue without making anyone feel as though they are less than someone else.

I am no better than anyone else. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about me that is amazing. I'm flawed (as you can tell by some of the answer I want to give). I have some pretty terrible parenting moments, and sometimes I have some stellar ones as well. 


  1. People can be so insensitive. My hope is that there questions come from a place to genuine interest and not just being nosy. I'm glad you posted your real thoughts. :)

    1. My hope is the same regarding the genuine interest instead of just nosiness. I also truly believe it's a concept few people can understand so they do whatever they can to try and make sense of something that will never make sense.

      Also thank you. :)



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