We knew from the start that it would be hard. She was older than our age range (15 months when we wanted under a year) and she had some ongoing medical needs. But we hadn’t signed up to be foster parents to only say yes to easy things, and she only needed a home until they finalized her kinship home. So we said yes.
We found out quickly that she was not 15 months, but 20 – the same age as our twins. Not what we wanted to hear. We would not have said yes had we known that.
But we also discovered that her medical needs weren’t as extensive as we had been originally told. We spent a lot of time at the hospital that week learning everything we could about how to care for this little girl.
We also went to our first family meeting and met H’s mom. It was so clear that they belonged together, and her mom was determined to fight to get H back. We enjoyed bridging with H’s mom and seeing her love on her daughter.
H was only with us for a month, but it was by far the hardest month of our lives. Caring for this little girl gave me so much compassion for her mom. I could see how everything was stacked against this mother. She had no support system. We had such a strong one that we had free childcare, assistance in getting to appointments, and home-cooked meals regularly delivered by our church. And still we struggled.
God used H to stretch us, to bring us closer to Him in our exhaustion, and to teach us that it’s always okay to ask for help.
We took some time off after H left our home, which was good for our family. Then in February we took in another temporary placement – a 5 month old boy, M.
A few days later, we got a call about another 5 month old boy. We initially said no, since we didn’t know how long M would be staying and it could be a few more weeks. The next day we were told that M would be moving that weekend, so we told our family worker that if that other little boy still needed a place, we would take him. He did, and for about 24 hours we had M & T together. God used M to set us up for success with T. We knew all the right questions to ask since we’d just been through this with M, and they were the same age.
Then M moved on & T stayed. Our first long-term placement.
T was the easiest, happiest baby on the planet. He was adorable and smiley and loved everyone he met. His hair stuck straight up and his big round eyes drew you right in. Even so, it wasn’t always easy with him.
God used T to show me the depth of my own sin. Parenting a little stranger will do that to you. There’s this misconception about foster parents that they feel an automatic connection to these kids and love them just like their own. That’s not true. You can’t just meet a stranger and love them like the child you grew inside you. You have to work at it, and there were times that I failed hard. Times when I was angry or annoyed or resentful at this sweet helpless baby who had seen 3 homes in his first 6 months and just needed some stability and a mommy who loved him no matter what.
T’s family was very involved and it was such a privilege to get to cheer them on. When he went back with them, it was a little sad, but it was mostly happy that they were finally back together.
T left in August, but in May we started to feel like our lives were a little too comfortable. Steve and I agreed that with T’s case being so cut-and-dry, knowing it was almost certain he’d leave at the end of the summer, we could take on another. We opened our home again on May 27th. Then we waited. And waited. For weeks. Which is very unusual. We occasionally got texts from our worker that she was offering our home for a kid, but nothing turned into a placement.
Then, on June 26th, a call at 6 pm. A newborn baby boy was being released from the hospital that evening and had nowhere to go. I dropped the twins off at the grandparents and took T to the house to get ready. An hour later they brought us baby B.
For 6 weeks we were a family of 6. It was exhausting and hard, but the reunification date had been set for T so we knew it would just be a sprint. Once again, we were supported by our family, our friends, and our church.
Then T left and we were back down to 5, which is where we plan to stay until God shows us that we’re too comfortable again. Baby B will probably be with us for a while, and by the end of the month he’ll be our longest placement so far. We’re working hard at loving him and growing him up healthy. God is working hard on our hearts as we sacrifice our own comforts to support him and his parents as they work towards reunification.
It’s only been a year, but with 4 placements and a reunification we’re already starting to feel like veterans. I know that will sound super naive when I reread this in a year or two, don’t worry. God has so much more to teach me through these kiddos and their families.
My biggest lesson from this year is that God has blessed us so richly. Our support system showed up for us every time we needed it. We have two steady jobs, and friends and family willing to love on any littles we take in. We have a God who gives infinite grace to us, the least deserving of it.
How can we go on living comfortable lives and not use these blessings to serve families in need in our community?
p.s. – To everyone who has loved on our littles, helped us navigate the system, brought us meals, watched our kids, and prayed with us – THANK YOU! A special thank you to our very supportive families & our agency, Youth & Family Services.