Hey Mamas! I wanted to start writing for the Orange County Moms Blog from time to time to share my foster mom journey – the good, the bad, and the messy crying. I want to open up and answer any questions that you might have, so that there’s more conversation about fostering children or fostering-to-adopt children in the system.
Our family is called to foster/adopt children in Southern California – essentially our backyard – within our Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) system. I think that fostering and giving a safe home to a scared, hurt, and neglected child is necessary. And I hope to enlighten you on the process and maybe even encourage you to do the same.
The Real Deal
The foster system is messy and often times being a foster parent is a thankless job. (Like, really thankless). Everyone working for DCFS or foster non-profits are really pro family reunification. (Sometimes I agree and sometimes I adamantly disagree with this idea). So foster parents can get lost in the shuffle.
More often than not, we have to be okay with sitting in limbo until things (parental rights, family assessments) get sorted out. When I share with you my journey, I am going to be honest and as much of an open book as I can be. Given that we are an active foster family, I am going to remain anonymous so that we can keep helping children and hopefully welcome one into our family forever.
I am a wife, a mom, a foster mom, and lover of one fur-puppy. I work full-time and (gasp) send my kid(s) to daycare. A huge social butterfly, I can’t help myself but introduce my family to fun activities, fairs, festivals, hilarious people, or host a roaring game night. People motivate me to be better.
My mother was adopted at 6 months of age and my best friends growing up were adopted out of the foster system. Fostering and adoption have been near and dear to my heart for as long as I can remember.
When I was dating my husband I remember asking him about adoption and had to make sure he was open to it (and a lot of other things too). It would have been a deal breaker for me if he were turned off by the idea. Needless to say, we are madly in love and started the journey to foster/adopt several years ago.
Living in Limbo
We’re in limbo…
Currently, we are waiting on our next foster placement and I am trying to wait patiently for his or her arrival. Obviously, I need something to do in the meantime, because here I am writing this blog post for you all (and probably for myself too).
Before our current situation, we had our first placement this spring.
Baby B (I’ll use letters for our placements and Baby A will always be my biological daughter) was amazing and beautiful with dark curls and an infectious laugh. Our placement Baby B came to us at just over 9 months old and was developmentally behind.
We had Baby B for almost 6 weeks and grew quickly attached. The family situation was very messy and completely foreign to us, but somehow seemed normal and familiar to the social workers. We had appointments galore, daycare, sleepless nights, endless poking of eyes and mouths between kids, field trips, and milestones passed. But ultimately, we were living in limbo.
We were wading in the muck of life – especially the life and family background of Baby B. We didn’t have the answers to questions. Instead we were waiting for court orders, visitation schedules, family assessments, HUB Clinic callbacks, and social workers to be back in the office. (You might not think of it, but social workers spend a lot of time on the road and out of the office.)
This was a huge life change for me since I am a planner and instigator of ideas. All plans had to be on hold or go through an approval process. The biggest plan that I have is to add someone to our family and that was in limbo too (and it will be until we are paired with the right child). Initially, I had a sense that Baby B wasn’t our forever family member. But it didn’t make being in limbo any easier. I still would find myself hoping that we would get to keep Baby B. I hear that there is always something special about your first placement and I know that to be true for Baby B and me as well.
Moral of this blog post: fostering and fostering-to-adopt means you have to be okay being in limbo.
But it’s worth it. I rejoiced with great enthusiasm for Baby B when he started to crawl, pull up, and then, take a first (but wobbly) step. I cheered when Baby B would laugh or do something on their own. It was amazing how far Baby B came in just six short weeks. Being with our family was life changing for Baby B and fostering was life changing for us.
I’m okay with sitting in the muck of life if it means one kid had a safe warm bed and food on the table – even just for the 6 weeks that sweet baby was with us.
Think about it. Let the idea of fostering a child sit with you. It might be uncomfortable, but it is far more uncomfortable for that child to be in limbo without a caring and cozy home and foster family.
Looking forward to sharing more soon. Feel free to comment below with any questions you may have. I’d love to help answer them if I can.