Saturday, May 5, 2012

Top 10 - Things People THINK They Need

Dan and I were very hesitant to move towards fostering or adopting, mostly because we are poor. No, not poor in the sense that we live in a one room house with a dirt floor. We've seen that kind of poverty and it's very real. But by American standards, we are pretty low down there. Much of our monthly income still comes from generous supporters who believe in what God is going to do in our future ministry (wherever that may be). We get help from the government which means all of our "eating out" happens at a grocery store. We cloth diaper, make our own laundry detergent and shop at the Covenant Free store. We are BLESSED with SO MUCH, truly, but we are definitely not your average American family.

Still, the Lord has always given us faith in His ability to provide. We've been to far away places and participated in amazing work around the world because of His provisions. I am so thankful that He gives us His vision for our lives and the strength to move forward even when it looks foolish to others.

There are many other things people think they need in order to foster or adopt children. Finances was one of our biggest, so we will start there.

1. Money. "How will we provide for these children?". The good news about fostering through the state is you get a small stipend. It's enough to cover extra food costs and activities. As well, foster children are immediately put on Medicaid and the state pays for daycare should you need it. Private and International adoption is expensive, but there are grants and other ways to raise funds. Satan would love for money to be the reason Christians do not welcome children into their homes...don't let him convince you!

2. A big house. Can renters foster?? Of course they can! We live in a 2+ bedroom apartment duplex (the + being an 8x10 room without a closet or a door). You need one twin sized bed for each child or crib for children 2yrs and younger. Currently, we have bunk beds, a crib and a toddler bed in the boys' room with one dresser and a small closet. It's the sleeping quarters and it works great. Children over 6 yrs cannot share a room with the opposite sex which is one of our reasons for fostering younger kids. We converted Dan's office into a play room and we have a fenced in back yard (shared with our down stairs neighbor). It's plenty of room people!
honestly, this is all you need, perhaps minus the stuff :)

3. Maturity/wisdom. Again, you do not need to be older and uber mature in order to foster or adopt. Teenagers become parents all the time. Now, I'm not condoning that by any means, but just trying to show that anyone can become a parent. All that is required in parenting is a great amount of love, humility and a teachable heart. In raising my two boys, I've learned (and will probably continue to do so) that no matter how much you think you know about parenting, you actually don't. As well, parenting your bio kids does not automatically make you 100% ready to parent foster children. Each child is so different, but on top of that, children with disabilities and rough backgrounds are even more different.

4. A spouse! This is somewhat of a hot topic (why is that? do people honestly think it would do a child harm if they had A mommy instead of NO mommy???), but single people are allowed to foster/adopt and I think it's awesome. Emily, the co-founder of One Heart Family Ministries is a single mother to four adopted girls (all through the foster care system) and is currently fostering twin toddlers. She's got six children under her roof!!! I have been incredibly blessed to learn her story and see what it looks like to truly give your life to God. There were also three single women in our class who plan to foster. Seriously, the love and support they are eager to give these children is immeasurable. God calls ALL Christians to care for widows and orphans, not just married people, experienced parents, ministers or missionaries. ALL people. That certainly includes single people and I have no doubt that single people can bless and change the life of a foster child forever.
Emily with her four adopted girls

5. Older kids. Your bio kids do not have to be out of the house and no one says you have to stop growing your own family in order to foster. In fact, it's possibly better for there to be children in the home, giving a sense of safety and belonging to foster children. Safety concerns are real. Discuss these fears and talk through what age group might be best for your bio kids.

6. Any kids in general. Although it might be helpful, you do not need to have children in order to foster. You do not need to be an expert on parenting either and THANK GOD FOR THAT! I admired the child-less people in our class for stepping into this role with no experience in parenting. If you think about it, every first time parent is in this situation. Only difference is that they took part in making the child.

7. You have to be young. Our original plan was to adopt when our kids were older. We would try out all of our parenting techniques on our bio kids, pay for all of their counseling and then adopt once we were experts. I kid, but honestly, older people really do have an amazing opportunity to share their success and stability with kids in need. Although it's not required, older people do have more wisdom with experience and could possibly make the best foster parents ever! I pray that more people would consider using their retirement to care for the lost instead of playing golf every day. (or whatever else retired people do...ride boats? visit casinos? search for the perfect puffy paint Christmas sweatshirt? clearly i have no idea).

8. A degree in counseling. Like wisdom, it would be helpful if you got your degree in counseling or child psychology, but it is not required. Nothing can fully prepare you for the issues and situations you will deal with when it comes to fostering. Each story is so different! You should build a support group around yourself, though. Get to know other foster/adoptive families. Talk with them and gain wisdom and encouragement. Seek a counselor for your kids or yourselves!! There's no shame in recruiting help, in fact, it can only enrich your experience.

9. A plan. In fact, it's probably better if you don't have a plan, ha! Fostering and adopting is not like being pregnant. You have NO idea who will enter your house or when they will come. There is no 9 month waiting period with a due date (although the doula in me should note: due dates annoy me!! it should be due months as there is no way to accurately know exactly which day a baby will come and far too many moms and doctors obsess about this!).

10. You have to "have it all together". It seems that most Americans feel they need to have their life in order before they allow themselves to move on. Before getting married or having children, a man needs to have a solid job, own a house and drive a car that is less than 10 years old. Ha, we've broken all of those unspoken rules! We think that once our children get through a certain stage, the timing will be perfect. Once you've landed that dream job, then you can start the process. Don't get me wrong, timing is definitely important as you should be a in a healthy place to start fostering. BUT, Dan and I both know that children are a blessing, no matter how bad the timing is. You get through it and move on. Don't make too many excuses, waiting for your life to settle down. Move forward, take the plunge and pray for guidance.

Now for a quick list of things you DO need:

-A support group whether that be family, church, friends, etc.
-Bed for each child (notice I did not say a room for each child)
-A vehicle to transport them (hence our "new" van!)
-A vision for these children. One that goes beyond yourself.

Yup, it's that simple.


  1. good post Bethany. We have started praying about if/through what means God has for us to adopt.

    Okay, off topic: While I totally agree with you about due dates, I am one of the few that has a due date baby. Yliana came right on her due date :) But I know that is rare. When I book newborn shoots I book for the due month because you just never know. I have a set of twins I am doing pictures of next week and they came just shy of 39 weeks! I thought that was a pretty darn good healthy pregnancy for twins! Anyway, we'll be praying for you as you welcome some little ones into your home. Will we get to "meet" them here on the blog or are there rules about posting pictures?

    1. it's funny you say that piper because both of my boys are due date babies, ha! still, i think we are part of the 5% who actually deliver on their due date :)

      you will be meeting their little toes and dresses but i cannot post pics of their faces.

  2. Thanks Bethany. Enjoyed this.

  3. Hi! My name is Johanna. I'm a good friend of Heidi Dillow's, and she pointed me to your blog since we are in a similar place - licensed to foster and planning to adopt in the next year. (Possibly from the DRC, or domestic African-American.)

    I also LOVE my Keep Calm and Carry On pendant my husband bought from your CityThistle shop for me for Mother's Day last year! (You can thank Heidi for that - she showed me your shop and I passed him the link. haha.)

    Anyway...this is fantastic. I'm going to link it on my Facebook wall. Thanks for sharing it - my prayers go with you as you go on this crazy journey! you can learn more about me on my blog:

  4. haha - and I had a due date baby too! :-) Not my firstborn, but my sweet girl that came last October. So fun.