When people hear about us fostering, these are the top 10 questions they ask us. Honestly, they are good questions, ones that Dan and I have asked before, too. Hopefully, this will shed some light on the process of fostering. Remember, we are not experts on fostering and would never claim to be. Especially since we haven't even been placed with children yet! If any of you have better answers to some of these (the non-personal ones :), please chime in!
1. But you'll have to give them back! Won't that be devastating? I start with this one because it's the most FAQ. People who ask this (including me!) do not fully understand what fostering is. This is a big reason most people do not even consider becoming foster parents. The foster care system in America is not perfect, but it's a system put in place to protect children in need. The goal is always to re-unite child with parent. Always.
Truly, that's a good thing! If a parent can change, grow, get their act together and be a family again, Praise God!! God wants families to stay together and Dan and I are committed to that plan as long as it is what's best for the child. It will be hard, so so hard. But Dan and I are praying for flexible hearts.
2. How many kids are you taking? What ages? Gender? Dan and I are open to a sibling group. They are difficult to place because most people only want one at a time. We feel it might even be easier if a child comes into our home with a built-in buddy :) We are open to newborns - 3 yrs old. We've got all the gear for a baby or toddler so it made sense to us. Plus, they all need to share a room and children over 6 yrs old of the opposite sex have to be separate. Speaking of the opposite sex, we are requesting girls. Some people think it's strange to choose a gender. For us, we thought it would help the boys to be more flexible and open and have less expectations with a 2 yr old girl rather than a 2 yr old boy. We are hoping this will reduce competition in our house...Lord only knows if it will work, though.
3. Do you ever meet the biological family? Yes. We will have visits with the child's bio family throughout their time with us. These visits are supervised, happen about once a month and are just a few hours long. Of course, things can change especially once a relationship has been established between us and bio-family.
4. Will these children have severe disabilities? It's entirely possible that any child we foster could have any number of disabilities. These children come from so many different backgrounds, so it's hard to know what we will be dealing with. Often times, when a child comes into care, there is not much information known about them. It could be something we learn about as we go along. However, there are a few things that we know we cannot handle, such as a child in a wheel chair, because we live on the second floor. We do plan to live in Africa again soon, so we would not take children with severe medical needs, knowing we probably could not care for them properly. Trust me, the list is very very long and Dan and I are open to children from most backgrounds (any race, religion, drug history, some diseases, etc.).
5. Will you be able to adopt these children? The first plan for any child we bring into our home is to reconcile them to their family. The court will give the bio parents a lot of time (as in 18 months) to show improvement, but if there is none, TPR (termination of parental rights) may happen. In that case, Dan and I are absolutely prepared to adopt. However, when a child is placed in your home, there is no way to know their future for sure. We will wait and see.
6. Can you travel with your foster kids? In order to travel, we have to get a judge to approve our trip. Vacations in state and close to home are super easy to get approved. Traveling to Africa with a foster child would be completely out of the question, though. Too bad :( If we are able to adopt a child in our care, we can take them wherever we want after the adoption is finalized.
|Laz would like to add - he is more than willing to drive if we do decide to travel ;)|
7. Your kids are so young...why not wait until they are older? Parents set the tone for their families. For a long time, they are the ones who say what's normal and what's not (until the kids hit their preteens and suddenly declare their parents to be grade A weirdos!). Our particular family life style is one that demands a bit of flexibility. Elijah and Laz are actually pretty good with change. Kids adjust quickly when given help to process what's going on. Elijah has been part of the fostering conversation all along and we think it will bless his life to experience this, not curse him.
8. How long will you foster? Dan and I both feel convicted to do this for a time. We are committed to seeing through our first placement, whether that be 6 months or three years to adoption. There is no way to know at the beginning how long a particular child will stay with you. We are just going to take it slow and let the Lord lead. Dan has one full year left of seminary and ordination, so we won't be going anywhere until at least 2014.
9. How are you preparing your children for new kids? Lazarus is not old enough to have a conversation yet. I often work in the church nursery, holding other babies and he is not the type to push them out of my lap. I take that as a sign of support from him ;) Elijah, on the other hand, is very excited about the prospect of having a foster sister. We have talked through what fostering is (including the possible reasons why children enter the foster care system) and what we will do for these kids as a family. He knows it's probably temporary, but with all the changes this boy has gone through, I think he's pretty prepared to deal with anything. Not to mention, he absolutely LOVES making new friends and is great with ice breakers, ha! I'm somewhat counting on him to make our first few days not so awkward.
The best and funniest question:
10. So...are you DONE having kids? Wow, I'm not sure I could ever feel "done" having kids. I love being pregnant (well, I guess I should say I look back on my two pregnancies with fond memories). I love giving birth (yup...same as above) and I love children. I have NO idea what God has in store for our family. Dan and I do feel called to adopt one day. We're not sure when that day is, but it's pretty important to us. I also know that I want to carry more babies, but it might be a desire I have to let go of so we can give other children a home. Basically, my answer is always "Sorry, I have no idea how to answer that question!".
Did I cover it? Any other questions out there?