We are coming to a close on our experience with DJ. He has been with us for almost 7 months now and he is about to move into his permanent placement. We are sad to see him go but also overjoyed for him and for what we see God doing in this new family he is helping to form.
I thought I would answer a few questions about our experience for those who are considering the process or who have just wondered about it.
Why Did You Become A Foster Parent?
I became a foster parent because I wanted to be obedient to what I felt like God was calling us to and honestly I wanted to see Him move. Life gets way too comfortable around here if we let it and I knew that foster care was a place I could step out in faithful obedience and see God's hand at work. I am afraid of becoming too comfortable.
Trent added to that (when we were praying about it) that we don't think we will ever stand before God someday and have Him say that He is disappointed in us for taking care of the least of these.
How Did You Get DJ?
DJ was the 3rd child we were called on. I say this to encourage those of you who fear what situation might be assigned to you. The first was placed with someone else and the 2nd was going to be more than I could commit to. CPS had spent days trying to find a family willing to take DJ but they all felt ill-equipped to handle his medical needs and the daily trips to the doctor that he required the first few weeks.
When I was told about DJs injuries, it reminded me of a child whom I had worked with on one of my PT clinical rotations. I felt like God was telling me that experience 15 years before was to prepare me for this moment and give me the confidence I needed to say yes. DJs condition did not frighten me but only because I had been exposed to it before.
Why Aren't You Adopting DJ? How Do You Let Him Go After 7 Months?
The number one reason I hear people say why they don't become foster parents is because they don't want to have to let the child go. I get that, but I view it completely different. First, I believe the best place for a child is to be with his biological family (if they are able to care for him) so from the beginning I am for the parents if possible. Second, I view foster care almost like being a school teacher. That child is placed in my home for a designated amount of time. My job is to love them unconditionally, give them stability, introduce them to the Gospel, and help make sure they are ready for where God takes them next. My primary goal is ministry to the child not growing my family. Here me say though, that I fully support growing your family through foster care. That is just not the role God called us to.
It was clear pretty early on that DJ was not going to be returning to his biological family. It was also clear that because of his experiences and how he related to those that he needed to be long term in a home where he was an only child. Trent and I felt like God had placed him in our home for healing but that growth was going to happen in a different environment. Thankfully, the Lord chose parents for him who we are good friends with so we will continue to be in relationship with him and our story will be a positive first step in his new beginning.
Has It Been Hard? Would You Do It Again?
Yes it has absolutely been hard. But think about it, any time you bring a new child into your home it is hard. I was not taken off guard by hard. I knew it was going to be hard and I knew that was where God would continue the work His process of breaking me of my selfishness and it would force me to look to Him. Yes I would absolutely do it again. I think when Maggie is stable and secure in our family unit, we will look into fostering babies some day.
How Did It Affect Your Kids and Family?
I worry that my children are growing up in a bubble. Trent and I choose to be intentional about exposing them to the world outside of comfortable suburbia. This was a piece of that. It has been hard on my kids but for the most part I am okay with that. It is teaching Jack to be more patient and flexible with what goes on around him. It is teaching Sam that it is okay to love and interact with the person who doesn't appear "safe" in their behaviors. I see in Sam a quality that I have struggled with all of my life. We are both able to scan a relationship, determine it might be unhealthy or too hard, and then completely shut down and walk away from it. I saw this in Sam with DJ for the first time and I am now very aware of it and my need to help him become more vulnerable. It was probably hardest on Ruthie, but it showed me the coolest trait in her. She is the most forgiving child I know. I loved seeing how she would forgive and reach back out to DJ over and over.
Trent and I learned to be more intentional about our time together and our time with our immediate family unit. We will carry that intentionality over into life after he leaves and our family will be better for it.
Any Advice on Choosing an Agency?
We work with Jamison out of Clear Lake and I have had an incredible experience. I have several friends who use Arrow and have also had a very positive experience there. I would not be scared away if the first agency's training does not fit your schedule. Check around and compare your options. Each agency has its own set of requirements and guidelines. Also, don't get overwhelmed by the requirements but just tackle them one at a time and they are very manageable.
Have any more questions? Feel free to leave a comment and I am happy to write part 2.