In May JJ and I officially started our foster care journey.
Yet, the process began long before all the paperwork, informational meetings, and training. As cliché/corny/dramatic as it sounds, God started preparing our hearts years before we ever said the words “foster care” out loud.
JJ and I both have always loved working with kids. Actually, we literally met thanks to kids. The first time I ever saw JJ was at an orientation for new Sunday School volunteers. Side note: Every time I tell this part of our story, I immediately think of that episode of The Office, where Michael Scott decides it’s a brilliant idea to make the user name for his online dating profile, “Little Kid Lover,” so that potential matches know he wants to have kids.
Even before we got married we talked about how many kids we wanted and what we thought our lives would look like in the future. JJ started at wanting four kids, but then one day in the car when I said four names all in a row, he quickly said two kids might be a better idea…
Growing up if you asked me how many kids I wanted it would have ranged from three to eight. I wanted as many babies as possible without going completely broke. However, in college I started having some health issues appear. That was the first time I ever thought about pregnancy and the problems that could arise for me. Since I wasn’t really dating anyone (meaning I was as single as Fraulein Maria at the beginning of The Sound of Music aka nun status), I didn’t give it much thought. After I met JJ my health problems started to take a nose dive that would continue to decline until I crashed and was diagnosed with EoE in April 2017. (If you are a new reader, I have a good amount of blog entries on this journey, so please feel free to explore this blog if you don’t know what EoE is. Before I was diagnosed, I had no idea either what it was.)
As we waited for answers about my health issues, we also kept “randomly” hearing about foster care. As I sank into depression due to my condition and gave little thought to my future beyond the complete certainty that it would be awful even if I had one, God was laying seeds for something beautiful.
After I got diagnosed and was on the path of healing, God kicked up His divine appointments by a hundredfold. We began “randomly” meeting people pursuing foster care, kids that were currently in foster care, seeing foster care played out on This is Us, hearing about foster care on NPR, seeing it show up as we scrolled through social media. It was literally like God was saying, “Don’t miss this! I’m not going to let you miss this.”
So why are JJ and I pursuing foster care?
Because we don’t want to miss out on what God has planned. Sometimes God is silent, but sometimes He shouts and basically shoots off a flare gun in the direction you should go.
As simple as it sounds we just want to love on these kids, and be their biggest advocates and supporters. I see my friend’s kids and my cousins’ kids, and they are all just so precious and so adored. At the end of the day foster kids may have a special label, but they are just kids. They are not their trauma. They are not their issues. They are kids that just want to be loved and seen, just as the other kids in our lives.
When we first started considering foster care, JJ and I both wrestled with fear. Not having any biological children, we have no clue how to parent. As we thought and prayed about it though, we began to realize no one knows how to parent until they actually become a parent. In training we learned that even experienced parents have to learn a whole new way of parenting because foster kids will differ from their biological children.
In our own lives JJ and I have seen God show up. We have seen others be the hands and feet of Jesus to us, and we want to be that for these children and their parents. Most of the birth parents we will meet most likely grew up in the system and were once foster children themselves. It’s a cycle that is very hard to break, especially when you are trying to do it without love and support. Also, not all foster homes are equal, and we heard of some terrible ones during training that would break your heart and fill you with a holy rage.
Going through foster care training has reaffirmed how much we need Christ and how much we need other people to help us take a stand for these kids. We can’t do this on our own. We are going to need a constant covering of prayer. Just as we were stretched and pulled as we entered marriage, moved across the country, and walked through illness, this will be a season where once again God will ask us how much we trust Him. Already you all have been so supportive with your messages of encouragement. Thank you so much. It takes a community to bring up kids, and we are grateful for each and every one of you.
We have one more home study in a couple of weeks. We will be working with kids ages newborn to ten to start with on our foster care journey with a specific focus on working with sibling groups with up to three children. We just learned that in the coming weeks we might be working with a current foster family with three kids: a 4-year-old boy, a 2-year-old girl, and a newborn.
- Pray that God continues to fill us with His peace and His confidence, and that we rely on Him as we welcome these children into our hearts and homes. Pray in advance for our hearts on the day these kids will leave us and return home. Even though “we know what we signed-up for,” it’s going to be so difficult, especially in cases where the home they are going back to is still unsafe and dangerous.
- Pray for these three siblings. Right now, one home has the two girls and another home has the little boy. These kids have just gone through something unbelievably traumatic, and on top of being taken from their parents and the only home they have known, they have the additional trauma of being separated from each other. Cover these little ones in prayer.
- Please pray for their current foster families as they love on these children and their birth parents.
- Pray for the birth parents and over their situation. Like I said before, many of these birth parents were in foster care themselves. The bias is to think that all of them are terrible people that don’t love their kids, but they might be doing the best that they know how to do or are able to do.
- Since JJ and I are starting from scratch, we have barely any of the necessities required to take care of this age group. Newborn to 10-years-old is pretty wide. We are relying on a bit of a miracle. We are slowly accruing items as our budget allows, and my parents have graciously bought us one of our needed cribs, a crib mattress, and crib mattress pad, which we needed before our final home study. Thanks Mom and Dad! I’ve created wish lists on Amazon.com and will include links below. If you all could help us with any of these items and share this blog post with friends and family, it would mean so much to JJ and me. We literally want to tell these kids that they are loved by so many people across state lines and across the world, and that a community of people saw to their needs and wants as they play with toys, drink from bottles and sippy cups, and lay their heads down to sleep at night.
- http://a.co/hSitX1Y– Foster Care Must-Have Items
- http://a.co/aQuk7NL– Foster Care Books and Toys