Saturday, March 20, 2010

Six Months Old/Halfway Point

Christian turned six months old yesterday and today he rolled over for the first time!

Right now we’re at the “Halfway Point” in this placement: Christian has been with us for 3 ½ months and there are 3 ½ months left until the Permanency Hearing when the judge will decide if his parents have progressed enough to have him back in their care. The tricky part about returning him to his parent’s care is that his parents aren’t even together- in fact, they have “no contact orders” against each other so at weekly visits Christian sees his dad for one hour and then his mom comes in a separate entrance of the building for her hourly supervised visit. It will be interesting to see how the judge decides to work out custody.

I hope that Christian can start extended and unsupervised visits with his parents soon so that it will make for a smoother transition back to their care- for his sake and for theirs. There’s a heck of a lot more I’d like to write about concerning Christian, his birthparents, and this case, but I can’t so this will have to suffice for an update for now.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Could NEVER Do Foster Care!

Three of the most common things I hear from people when they learn we are foster parents are:

1) I Could Never Do Foster Care!

2) Isn't it hard to have to say goodbye to your foster children after becoming attached?


3) WHY did You Decide to do Foster Care- Was it in the Hopes of Adopting?

This post is dedicated to anyone who has brought up any of these questions.

I Could Never Do Foster Care

I don't think it's so much a question of not being able to do it as it is of having the desire to do it, and more specifically, the reasons WHY somebody would want to do it.

I used to think that I could never be able to do foster care, either. I'm much too tender-hearted and the thought of dealing with reunifications seemed too painful for me to bear . . . which leads me to the second most asked question:

Isn't it hard to have to say goodbye to a child after become attached?

Yes, it is hard. But despite the heartache of having to say goodbye WE HAVE LIVED THROUGH IT!

In fact, when we were going through the initial training to become licensed our trainer said, "After your first placement leaves your home you may feel like your heart is being ripped out- but you need to remember that the pain you feel is just a measure of how much you have cared. If it doesn't hurt when they leave, then you haven't done your job"

I think that the bottom line of doing foster care is that you must be willing to put your desires and feelings on the back burner and turn your focus to the needs and feelings of a child. If someone is not willing to do that, then I would strongly encourage them to re-examine their motives for doing foster care in the first place.

Because I'm only human, I've been guilty of losing that focus [on the child and what is best for the child] and have ended up feeling unappreciated or resentful at times of how "the system" works. On occasion I've even caught myself throwing my hands into the air in frustration and asking, "Now WHY did we decide to do foster care in the first place?"

Which inevitably leads me to the next most common question/assumption:

Why did you decide to do foster care . . . Is it so that you can adopt?

To answer this question in one sentence I'll tell you: We became foster parents because we "felt" like we were supposed to. It wasn't a question of logic or convenience, but out of blind faith.

I first started having strong feelings about doing foster care when we had been married for about four years. At that point in time we had wanted children but didn't have any, so I'll admit that in the back of my mind I was hoping that these promptings would result in an adoption- it just made sense: we were a childless couple and we were getting strong messages about doing foster care.

However . . . one thing I've learned about how inspiration works in my life is that I am seldom given all of the reasons or explanations for WHY God wants me to do something all at once. Instead I find myself speculating, over-analyzing and sometimes even second-guessing these promptings when I should be listening, trusting and OBEYING!

I wish I could say that we followed those promptings right away, but the truth is that we kept putting them off and coming up with excuses of why foster care was too hard, too weird (unconventional is probably a less offensive word to use), too illogical, etc.

I also wish that I could tell you that our decision to do foster care has resulted in the adoption of a child through the foster care system, but it hasn't. We have fostered six children and all of them have returned to their parents or relative's care.

When people learn that we haven't been able to adopt any of our foster placements many feel sorry for us or think "What a waste of time!" But perhaps those same people don't fully understand that we have been blessed by doing what God has asked of us regardless of the end result. Fostering children has helped us to develop greater patience, love, and selflessness. We've been blessed to have children in our home as part of our family, even if it is just on a temporary basis.

Aside from the blessings fostering has brought into our lives, our experiences have helped us to re-learn that life isn't always about US or having OUR NEEDS and DESIRES met, but it's about REACHING OUT TO OTHERS, in this case the children.

Consider this pertinent statement from a fellow foster mother about her decision to do foster care and her source of strength through it all.
"Sometimes (actually often) if we are listening, God asks us to do things that are hard. He asks us to do things that hurt. He asks us to take risks for His kingdom. He asks us to be used in ways that don't make sense to the world, so that the only explanation is Him . . . It is God's strength, and His love he has put into our hearts for these kids, that keeps us refreshed."

 Amen. So beautifully put.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Disappointed But Not Devastated

We got a call today from our adoption caseworker informing us that the birth grandparents chose a couple to place their grandson with. The good news is that there is a family out there who is overjoyed to welcome a little boy into their family. The disappointing news is that we are not that family.

Many couples have encountered trials along the way to adding to their families, so why should we be any different?

Some women suffer miscarriages or have to endure the heartache of delivering a stillborn baby as they try to have more children. Others have to endure expensive & physically and emotionally taxing fertility treatments in an attempt to conceive. Others have had to deal with the agony of a contested adoption, a disrupted placement, or suffer from an "adoption miscarriage".

I personally don't know what it's like to suffer from any of the heartbreaking trials I've just mentioned, but THIS MUCH I DO KNOW . . .

Any disappointments, detours, and delays we encountered before we adopted M. made us CHERISH her ALL THE MORE when she finally came into our lives.

So we're just considering this another "delay" or "detour" on our current adoption journey and any more disappointments we have to face before our next child comes into our lives will make the experience all the sweeter.