Jonathan and I went through the 27 hours of training required to become licensed as foster parents this past month. I thought I would share a little about it for anyone thinking or considering doing foster care or that found this blog through #fostercare on Instagram.
First of all - yes, 27 hours. It is long, but it is worth it. For 3 Saturdays in a row we traveled to Tulsa to sit in a classroom for 9 hours. It's a sacrifice and commitment, but so is choosing to welcome in a child into your home. Load up on snacks and drinks and get comfortable as you can.
This post isn't going to be crazy long and it's not going to repeat the loads and loads of information and stats that were presented to us. I just wanted to share a few things that stood out to me.
First of all, having a village and a supportive system in your life is so important. My in-laws are amazing and kept all 3 of our kids every Friday and Saturday night so we could leave early and get home late. They played hard and made some good memories. Our kids didn't miss us, and made sure to wear Papa and Nonnie out, but they all had such a good time. Having family, friends, and/or a church family to help support you and your family on this journey (and any journey) is a key for success. We can't do it alone people and we shouldn't have to. Do you know some one out there who could use a break, a coffee, a pack of diapers, or a trip to Wal-Mart alone? Offer help - don't wait to be asked. Most people don't like asking for help, it's hard to do. But people, do it. Ask! It doesn't mean you're weak if you need help. God created us as relational beings and we need each other.
I learned I'm not strong enough to do this... without God's strength! What most of these kids have gone through that are now in the system is unbearable and unthinkable. These innocent little children wear scars, internally and physically. I have always been sheltered and protected from such darkness, and for it to be brought out in front of my eyes, I know it's nothing I can ignore. I have to step up and be a voice for these little ones who are not being heard.
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress." James 1:27
We must know our strengths and weaknesses. Believe it or not, we do not have it all together. And it's ok! Yes, Jonathan and I are choosing to open our home to the hurting and more children, but that doesn't mean we aren't scared. We have fears, concerns, and limitations. We are praying and choosing to trust God to lead us in each decision we are making and will have to make - for our marriage, our bio kids, and our future foster kids. We want to be stretched and live with open hands and arms, but we also know that we are limited creatures and that sometimes that means saying, "No."
I learned that Jonathan and I are a strong team - side by side in all things. As mentioned above we had 6 nights alone without children. That hasn't happened in over 6 years. We had a lot of great quality & quantity time to reconnect, talk, and be on the same page... and eat queso. I'm so thankful for this man I get to do life with. When we first started dating 10 years ago, neither of us could've dreamed up where we would be today and what we would be doing. I am just thankful for the path and direction God has us on and that we are walking it together. I loved the time I got this past month to focus on my husband and see and hear his heart.
I learned that even people on the same team have differences and no matter how hard it is we must respect those differences.
I learned that it's not about me. None of this will be done out of selfish ambition. This journey we are on is not for our benefit. It's to serve others and love others. We will be serving the children entering our home and their mothers and families. Serving in the Foster Care world is not just getting children to add to your family, it's being a mentor and a light for Jesus to the children and their parents/families. I didn't realize how involved the foster parents are/can be with the bio moms. Bio parents aren't bad people, but they may have made bad choices. They are loved by our God just like their children are.
I learned that this road is going to be full of bumps and rough spots. Ones that we don't even know that are coming. These children we are going to love have a past filled with sadness and hurt. Parenting them will be different than parenting our bio kids. But we are ready to be mom and dad to the unloved and unwanted. Because they are loved. They are wanted. By us. And by our God.
Will you join our village by praying for us and all of the Foster Care kids?