If you have ever considered becoming a foster parent, I’m sure the initial “what ifs” feel somewhat overwhelming. A couple of days ago I began to consider our own journey in the world of foster care. Ours, yours and every other foster parent’s story will never be exactly the same. Circumstances vary and, simply put, every child and family are different. However, there are a few things that really helped us trudge through in the beginning and I want to share them with you!
1. Confessions of an Adoptive Parent
I honestly have no recollection of how I came across Mike and Kristin Berry. I do, however, remember that is was during the paperwork-and-waiting stage. We had just decided to take the leap of faith in the foster world. You may have been there. It felt like a never ending cycle of checklists and we had so many questions!
Every person that we talked to [people primarily in the non-foster community] were overly negative. There was an influx of “Are you sure you know what you’re doings” and “They come with baggage…what if they burn your house down”. I mean, come on….you know that under every layer of rejection and hurt is nothing more than the heart of a child, right? We weren’t satisfied with those responses.
Finding raw information was difficult, though, since we didn’t know very many foster parents yet. “Raw information” is referring to unadulterated, truth. We wanted the good, bad and the ugly. That’s where Mike and Kristin came in.
The first thing I got my hands on was their podcast. I devoured it. Every single episode made its way to my ears at some point. Mike and Kristin are real and truthful and discussed topics openly that may have seemed scary to me at one time. Occasionally there was a guest on the podcast that held their own individual viewpoints, and my favorite, their children! If you are considering fostering, adopting, or both, I highly recommend you visit their corner. They were foster parents for 9 years, adopted 8 beautiful children and are an absolute wealth of knowledge.
Confessions of an Adoptive Parent
And their podcast!
The Honestly Adoption Podcast
Additionally, they have written several good books! If you are a book worm like me, have at ’em! You can click on any of the books below to find them on Amazon.
2. Foster Parent Support: James 1:27
We won’t pretend here. We joined all the foster parent support groups on facebook at first. Sometimes you just have to find your tribe, though. Personally, we kept returning to this one: Foster Parent Support : James 1:27 We felt more comfortable around other Christian foster parents that could understand our mindsets a little better. There are many great groups out there that aren’t necessarily Christian as well, but I found that narrowing your [virtual] community is beneficial. SO, this is the one I want to suggest to you!
You can find SO much information from other foster and adoptive parents, both new and experienced. Be warned that if you are looking for all good news you may need to steer clear for a bit. People go there to vent and get help. Let me reiterate that all children are different and deal with their trauma in different ways, but there are lots of parents there that are just doing their best to navigate various day to day struggles as their children adjust and heal. Be open minded and use this group as a tool to educate yourself. Step in and ask questions. Other parents have “been there, done that” and can offer you phenomenal advice.
Lingo/Acronyms to know:
To give you a jumpstart on the lingo, there are a few acronyms on this page that are used regularly. Here are some that we have seen the most often:
FD/FS=foster daughter/foster son
AD/AS=adopted daughter/adopted son
BD/BS=bio daughter/ bio son
BM/BF=bio mother/ bio father
CW/CM=case worker/ case manager
CASA=Court Appointed Special Advocate
TPR=termination of parental rights
DHS/CPS=Dept. of Human Services/Child Protective Services
GAL=Guardian Ad Litem
**A number after the acronym such as FS4 or AD8 represents the age of the child as it may be relevant to the conversation. (Foster Son, 4 years old/ Adopted Daughter, 8 years old)
3. Family & Community Support
This one is a biggie! YOU MUST HAVE SUPPORT FROM SOMEWHERE. Foster care and adoption is extremely hard. Don’t let the hard deter you, but there will be moments you feel like you just cannot get up. You and your spouse need someone to lift and encourage you through it. If that isn’t enough to convince you, YOUR KIDS will need you to have that support.
Some haven’t had the response they hoped from family and friends. If you are someone who is struggling to find supportive people in your circles, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the story. You just need to build a new circle. Don’t throw away your old circle (unless they are a detriment to your family and your children), but build a new one. Tap into foster parent groups in the community if you can. Make friends with others that are in the same boat. If that is not an option, connect with your church family. God’s people will lift you up. Better yet, do both. And find at least one person in your life that you trust with ALL of your feelings and heartaches, because you’re going to have some. Make sure that person can be trusted with your kids’ hearts as well.
I’m serious, guys. You NEED to tap into your faith. You need a healthy understanding that these kids belong to Him as much as you do. If I could begin to express the many parallels between our relationship with Jesus and the feelings, trauma, healing etc that is involved in foster care and adoption, I would literally be writing all day. Open your bible. Seek answers. He will carry you through the worst storms. And best of all, He will carry your children, too.