I am beginning a new blog on foster parenting and adoption through fostering. I’ve now been a foster parent going on three years. The journey began with the intent to adopt a very nice teenage boy with some special needs. My storyline is based on Tennessee Law and each state has different rules and policies which could make your experience diffent. This story will be an ongoing part of my blog with periodic updates on progress until the story reaches a good stopping point.
Its important that you the reader understand I am a 50 something married woman with two grown children and one grandchild. This fact is very relative to this story. Age has a lot to do with many things eventhough the younger we are the more we deny this truth. It all began one late night when I could not sleep. I often transfer from my bed to the sofa, because the transition tricks my mind into thinking I am now more comfortable and can sleep. It was late October and a chill was in the air. I snuggled under the blanket on the soft sofa and fell fast asleep. I am a night dreamer and I believe often (not always) dreams tell us many things, including messages from the heavens. This particular night I had a very vivid dream. In fact to this day I am not sure if I was dreaming or it was reality. Nonetheless to me it was a real event.
I recall sitting on the sofa and Jesus sitting beside me. I dont remember seeing His face or anything, I just knew it was Him. Quietly He said to me I should adopt a child. I replied to Him that I was fine with that but He would have to convince my husband this is something we should do. I did not believe my husband would agree due to our age and the point we were at in life. In the morning when I woke up I began the normal early routine of fixing coffee and getting ready for work. As I went about preparing for the day I temporarily forgot about the vision until…there it was forefront in my mind to where I could think of nothing else. This is how my journey as a foster parent began.
I briefly mentioned the vision to my husband and his reaction was what I expected, he likes things as they are currently. Just the two of us, quiet and no drama, but he agreed to think about my request to make an inquiry. The next morning I asked him again and he reluctantly agreed to making an inquiry for adoption. That morning I got online and was directed to the adoptuskids.org website. It was such a strange feeling seeing all these children listed like the pets at the local shelter. The listings were complete with pictures and descriptions of them and their hopes and dreams for the future. It was heartwrenching and felt so wrong to pick a child like this. But I read through them all several times and one teen girl kept resurfacing in my mind, so I made the inquiry on the website.
The next morning I received a call from the website and was asked if my homestudy was complete? Homestudy? Whats that I asked, she said I had to go through an agency so my home could be verified that it was fit for adoption. She then asked if I had completed the PATH classes yet? Another unfamilar term for the me the newbee. PATH? She then explained we had to sign up for the classes before we did anything else and just to let me know the likelyhood of us adopting this girl wasnt very good because they (meaning Dept of Children Services in TN “DCS”) are really designed for Foster Care. I was very disheartened and doubted that my vision was real. I began to pray very hard and I asked God to confirm this direction so that I am sure this is what I am supposed to do. I believed He would answer in a way I would understand whether I should push forward or not.
The following morning in early November I received another call from DCS in response to my inquiry. I was a bit confused because I already had the call the previous day and I told the woman about the call and that I was dissueded from pursuing adoption. She was upset that anyone would say that to me and stated the previous response must have misunderstood me. She offered to go ahead and contact someone regarding the PATH classes for me and to get the ball rolling. Thank you God for the firm confirmation. I agreed to scheduling the classes and waited for the call. I explained to my husband about the requirements and surprisingly enough to me he agreed. The next day someone from a related agency contacted me and scheduled us to get started on the PATH training classes, and it just so happened they were starting in two weeks right around Thanksgiving. Another confirmation from God in my mind. Great we were now scheduled for the classes. In the meantime I received another call from the “Placement Specialist” for the girl in my inquiry. We talked a long time about what we needed to do to prepare for the possible adoption. The Specialist was excited about the possibility of a permanent home for this child.
Fast forwarding to the month of January…
In January we finished taking the PATH classes to become a Foster Parent. Both becoming a Foster Parent and the PATH classes are a requirement to adopt from the Adoptuskids.org . We began planning a near future visit with the girl, all we had left to complete was the Home Study which we were told does not take very long. The Homestudy is in reality the longest part of the process. This is where you have tons of paperwork to complete with very personal questions about your family background, what kind of marriage do you have, what kind of marriage does/did your parents have, your relationship with your siblings, etc. It also includes a home inspection that have many requirements, a background check, fingerprinting, and so on.
While we were waiting for the Home Study process to finish an unexpected problem developed with the girl. Our faith is very real to us and my conviction that I was given this directive from above is unflappable. Once of the reasons I felt so connected to this particular girl was she had written part of her story and said she wanted a christian home that would support her in faith. I didnt feel like there were a lot of children that had been the horrific situation she had and still held on to her faith enough to make a christian home critera for placement. At this time she lived in a foster home and had been there about a year. The unexpected problem arose when she was asked to visit with us to see how each of us clicked together. Faced with this she did not want to leave where she was. I questioned the specialist then why would we force her, and was told the current Foster parents did not want to adopt her mostly because of her serious medical conditions and potential for extreme medical bills. I also asked myself why would I want to take this on at this point in my life, but the answer was always the same, because I was sure this is what God wanted. So we pushed forward to see if somehow we could ease her mind and set up the meeting. Meanwhile our Homestudy is finished and it is now the end of February. I remember the call well, the one where the specialist said the girls Foster Parents faced with adopting her or losing her is moving forward with the adoption.
At first I was heartbroken and I didnt understand why I had gone through all of this only to have it end this way. But after some thoughtful prayer I realized this was the plan all a long for this particular girl. If we had not pursued a possible adoption of her, the people she had called family for over a year would not have made the move to make her a permanent part of their family and this is what her heart truly wanted. God used us to make this girls prayers become reality. I am firmly satisfied with that.
So where do we go from here? Was this child a help to progress to the one we are ultimately supposed to help? Adopt? One of the issues for my husband and I is we really do not want to be Foster Parents, our ultimate goal is adoption. The main reason for wanting adoption over Fostering is the turmoil over separation of the kiddos as they come and go. I am a sensitive loving soul, there is no such thing as staying detached for me. I must love them all like my own, I cannot do any less and this sets me up for constant turmoil and heartache. While I am more than willing to obey Gods plan, I can only take so much emotional upset before deep depression sets in.
The placement specialist contact me after a week or so and asks if I am interested in another child. I had been praying and did not feel like my job was complete yet, and so I said yes. I started scouring the pages of adoptuskids.org again waiting for one particular one to fill my heart. At first it just didnt happen. My husband and I did not want to take on a child that was too young. We wanted to help the older ones that are harder to place, just like the girl. There was one boy who’s eyes really kept pleading with me through the picture, but he was special needs and I was uneasy about it. I inquired with the placement specialist about several others from the website and there was one possibility but she thought he was going to be testing the waters soon with a distant family member. But she did have a young man that she thought would be a perfect fit, was I interested in some pictures? Yes and there he was the boy with those eyes!! We set up a first meeting we drove a long way to spend just a few hours with him. He stole my heart all six foot three of him!! Oh and that sweet smile it just melted me. By April he had moved in with us. In order to move forward with any adoption, each child must first be Fostered by you for a minimum of six months. This young man was autistic and needed some special things such as education and proper ettiquette training. We moved forward and all was very well for about three months.
I think it was mid June when he had his first extreme anger outburst at a local kids center we had him enrolled him. When they called me I truly thought they were mistaken as I had not witnessed this side of him at all. From there things went down hill, there were problems at home and school. It wasnt working out and I wasnt equipped to change it. I was heartbroken and so was he the day he left to return to his special residence school. The boy and I had really bonded and it was terrible for both of us. But due to his background he had extreme anxiety regarding men. Eventhough we were going through a lot of family counselling together to try to fix it, the problems were getting worse not better.
After he left, about a month went by when he called me and asked if I minded if he continued to call me, of course I said he could call anytime I truly loved him. This was about October sometime. It was hard to believe that almost a year had gone by since we first answered this calling. It was decided he would make a home visit for Christmas and we would see if things were now better since he had a lot of therapy and was now understanding the consequences his actions can have.
The Christmas Visit.