Adopting a sibling set from foster care
I am so happy that so many adoptive families are willing to share their story with our audience for Foster Care Awareness Month! We are an adoptive family and as one might imagine, I love hearing adoption stories, and I have found our readers do too. Sadly, I was mostly out of stories to tell (at least for now), so HUGE props to our friends here that are willing to share inspirational adoption stories! Thank you to this Foster to Adoptive Mama (who will be known as “M”) for sharing about adopting a sibling set from foster care. It is a beautiful story.
With no further delay, here is Mama M with some inspiration for your day ………..
With no further delay, here is Mama M with some inspiration for your day ………..
Adopting a sibling set from foster care.
Jeff and I were married in August of 2011. We originally met working at a Christian’s children’s home in 2003. We met some amazing people, made lasting and life-changing relationships, and learned so much during our time there (more than I could ever put down on paper). The reason I am telling you this part is to help explain that we were destined to do what we do. We met working with children, so it only seems natural that this is what we are doing now that we are together and married.
Back in 2011, right before we were married, we began taking care of a toddler. I was at the tail end of completing nursing school and we were planning our wedding and future. This was a wonderful and extremely difficult time for us, as we unexpectedly began our marriage with this young child. After about 6 months, he went back to live with his birth mother. This was a hard time for several reasons that I won‘t go into detail about, but we learned a lot- and this is when we began to learn about how the state system worked. It’s safe to say our interest in foster care started here.
We became licensed foster parents in February 2012 after a lot of classes, paperwork, and home studies. We had a big home- and decided we would focus on taking in sibling groups- since they are so often split up as there are not many foster homes that can accommodate multiple foster kids. For the home-study portion, we had to set up our home with multiple beds, cribs/toddler beds and twin beds to show that we were prepared for any age between 0-12 yrs old. We had to have potty chairs, cabinet safety locks, and high chairs. We had booster seats for eating, and booster seats for the car. We had to get car seats and sippy cups. Mattress pads, sheets, pillows, and blankets to cover 6 extra beds were also on the list. Needless to say, we had a lot to do before we were licensed!
We got our first call on a Tuesday in late April of 2012 about sibling group of 3. We drove 2 hours (the nearest big city from our rural house) to meet them on a Wednesday, and then went to a family planning meeting where the parent/family, social workers, counselors, and us met to discuss the plan. This was so new for us! We were wide-eyed and excited and nervous all at the same time. We took the kids home that Thursday. I remember Jeff and I (and the cat and dog) all sitting on the couch after putting the kids to sleep that night- we were exhausted. We looked at each other and didn’t even have to say a word. WE WERE CRAZY!
C was 5 yrs old, with big beautiful eyes and long thick hair. She was the mother-hen- directing her little brother and sister in everything they did. A was a cute, silly 3 yr, who loved hugs and attention every chance she got. M was a short, shy 2 yr old boy who was scared and followed his sisters everywhere. We had a lot of stressful long days/nights filled with tantrums, nightmares, arguing, and just plain getting used to the situation (and I don’t mean just the kids =) Nights were the worst- filled with sobbing and tears and missing their mom. I have say it was heart-breaking to hear them cry out for their mom at night. Jeff and I tried to just be available, offering hugs, prayers, and stability and reassurance- all we had to offer was our presence.
And this wasn’t just hard for the kids. It surprised me how hard it was not to be who they wanted. I was not who they were crying for. This actually became more difficult as more time passed. As we got to know them, and them us, we were becoming more and more attached. It is hard not to be loved back. That’s all there is to it. This was a big lesson that we had not prepared for. We loved them, fed them, clothed them, were there for them, etc.- but they still wanted their mom.
For our children, visitations were inconsistent due to various reasons we can’t discuss. This made for a lot of instability that was out of our control. As foster parents, Jeff and I soon learned that we had to be advocates for these kids- because no one else was. Sure there were social workers and CASA workers, but they are VERY busy with HUGE case loads that honestly require superhuman powers to manage. We had to fight for services, for required call-ins before the visits (so the kids didn’t drive 2hrs to a visit only to have to turn around and drive 2 hrs back when there was a no-show), for our oldest to not have to miss school for visits/appts. , and for better supervision at supervised visits. We became those annoying foster parents who called a lot, email a lot, and asked a lot of questions. As we learned how the system works, we knew what should be done and were learning the importance of being advocates for every kid that we have in our home.
(In January of 2013 we started get phone calls to take in more kids. We did, and soon had our house filled with 6 kids. At one point- we had ages 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 in our house! We ended up moving to a bigger house, and even bought a bigger car (9-seater) to accommodate our growing/changing family. If we counted correctly, we have now had 28 kids come through our home. Some have stayed for a weekend, some for a week, and others for months. All the while, we have been blessed to keep our “original” 3 kids with us. )
At some point along the way, we realized that C, A, and M were likely going to come up for adoption. Though we hadn’t started doing foster care with the intention of adopting a sibling set from foster care, there was no question that we would adopt if the state allowed it. This was not a smooth process, with many court hearings, disappointments, and frustrations. We desperately prayed that these kids would be allowed a life filled with love, stability, and safety. There were many times where we thought we might lose them and that thought was crushing. In October of 2013, right before a termination of parental rights trial, an open adoption agreement was signed. It was then that we could finally breath a sigh of relief in knowing these were our kids. The adoption finalization for us is scheduled in early June and we couldn’t be more excited! We also currently have a set of brothers ages 3 and 5 that we have had approx. 2 months.
Fostering/Fostering to Adopt is not easy. In fact, it is hard. Really hard. But Jeff and I firmly believe that God calls us (all of us!) to follow His will- and when we do- God will provide. He will see us through. He is enough. Whether we get “what we want”, or we suffer loss (which we have numerous times in fostering), He is enough. We would have quit fostering a long time ago if we were fostering for us. It is too much work, too sad, too heartbreaking, too time-consuming, too frustrating. We have to literally remind ourselves that this not about us. It is a ministry. It is about living out what we believe, about living as scripture tells us to live. To live selflessly. There are times when we have wanted to quit. To walk away from fostering when it “got too hard”. To live “normally.” Each time we were reminded that we don’t want to be like the rest of the world (see Romans 12). Every reason we had for quitting was a selfish reason. To be able to travel, to be able to have Jeff/Me time, to be free from annoying appt’s and inspections, even to be able to sleep in! Every day we have to work on being selfless and choosing to live selflessly. We aren’t perfect at it by any means, and hopefully we will get better at it as we go.
And in response to the many many many times we have heard “I could never do that”, “It would be too hard”, “How can you let them go?”, “There’s too much risk of losing them,” etc. 1. We don’t do it alone- we pray every day for the strength to do what we do (and guess what, we are granted it every day!) , and we ask for help from our family, friends, community. 2. It is hard- but does that change the fact that the kids are still there?- it is even harder for them. 3. We let them go because we would be arrested if we tried to stop them =) At least we were able to provide a loving home while they were with us, and we can continue praying for them even once they are gone. 4. Yes- there is that risk- but aren’t they worth it? Imagine if we’d decided it was too risky. We wouldn’t be enjoying school concerts, girl scout skits, preschool awards, dinosaur birthday parties, millions of hugs and “I love you’s”, laughter and innocent silliness. We would’ve missed out on the opportunity of having C, A, and M in our lives forever!
*Thank you so much to M for sharing her story! What a beautiful family you have been blessed with! If you would like to share your adoption story, please contact me!*
Are you interested in adopting a sibling set from Foster care? Or just adoption in general? Start here if you are interested in pursuing adoption!
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