Well apparently I’m still in the spontaneous ugly-crying at random times phase of grief. New Baby has been gone for six days. We are adjusting slowly. We miss him, pray for him daily, and are practicing trust moment by moment. As we adjust I thought I’d answer a few questions.
Every once in a while I get questions about fostering. I do not feel like much of an expert or consider myself to have all of the answers, but I thought I’d share a little bit of what we have experienced on the licensing/preparation side.
1. Choose an awesome foster agency. We LOVE ours. We are licensed through Methodist Children’s Home. We were blessed to have several friends who paved the way for us in terms of researching agencies in town, so when it was time to choose it was an easy decision. We had heard great things about MCH and we have not been disappointed. They are so supportive and encouraging. Our caseworker is the best – she has talked me off of many an emotional ledge! And they are PASSIONATE about the kids.
If it is possible for you to meet with different agencies and ask questions, do it. An even better option might be to meet with families who use different agencies and hear their thoughts. Every agency is a little bit different. Some will license you for fostering AND adoption, which saves you a step when adoption nears. Just feel free to ask LOTS of questions – they want you to be informed too.
2. Understand that fostering to adopt and seeking to adopt through an adoption agency are different. Both come with their own set of challenges and heartaches. Being a foster to adopt family means that if there is a chance that a child might become adoptable in the future then they will most likely be placed with a family willing to consider adoption. But the reality is that you may not know for MONTHS if the child in your home will be adoptable. So if you are fostering to adopt you need to take time to consider that not all of the children who enter your home will be in your home forever. We thought our first placement would be with us forever. He was gone in 5 days. We thought Maddie would be temporary and she’s now ours forever. It is such a roller coaster. It never gets easier to send kids off. It is only by the grace of God that anyone can foster, or adopt, or have kids at all in any way for that matter.
3. Find a supportive community. John and I have been incredibly blessed with families and friends who have been nothing but encouraging and supportive since we started down this road. I don’t know what your back story is, but find a supportive community – your family, friends, church group, other foster families – whoever! You will need these people. I know exactly who to call for advice on legal proceedings that are unfamiliar, who to call when I need some ice cream and magazines after a bad court date, and who to call for clothes and baby supplies that we don’t have for last minute placements. Which brings me to my last thought….
4. Buy what you want and borrow what you can. I do not mean that you should go crazy in Babies R Us. Baby stuff is EXPENSIVE and there’s a lot if it. But I will say this: make your nursery great. You will use your nursery for lots of different babies for a long time. There are a lot of things that will be out of your control. Let your nursery be a place of comfort and fun. Decorate it. Make it like you want it. It makes since to make it as unisex as possible, but if you are going to lean toward a gender my philosophy is that girls can hang with some boy stuff, but little boys look a little funnier in Blush and Bashful.
When we got our nursery together (it’s olive green) we bought our crib (the standards are so specific we thought it was easier to buy it ourselves). We bought a set of onesies in every size group (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, etc. up to a year) for both boys and girls so at we would have something if we got a last minute placement (which is usually how it goes). That will buy you some time to gather resources from friends, make a quick trip to Target or Walmart, etc. We were also blessed with a baby shower where we received lots of toys, clothes, and various baby items we never knew we needed until we had them.
We borrowed (and still borrow) a lot of stuff from friends until we decided what we needed. Every baby is different. It’s not worth spending tons of money on something like a swing until you know your baby loves a swing. We ended up with a bouncy seat, a high chair, a bumbo, a pack and play, and some clothes. We have borrowed swings, excersaucers (we have GOT to buy one soon – babies love them!), a rock and play (also legit!), and tons and tons of clothes. What a blessing.
I hope this was helpful for some of you – for the rest, thanks for being the huge support group of which I speak. We love you.