foster parenting adventure

so apparently I haven’t said a single thing about our new pursuit of a foster care license online. If I think about it, I think I’ve only mentioned it to about two friends in real life…mostly because ever since we decided to pursue fostering, nothing has happened to move it forward. here’s the story of how we find ourselves elbow deep in redundant paperwork:

Last November, Kyle had a particularly heart-wrenching encounter with a little two-year old boy on a call at work. Kyle found this little guy on a bed in a horrible drug house, surrounded by trash and old food crumbs, obviously neglected, drug-impacted (there was drug paraphernalia near his bed) and far behind developmentally. After a stern conversation with this boy’s mother, and placing the child in an emergency foster home, Kyle came home wanting to do something more. We talked and prayed about looking into foster parenting and called our county to start the process.

We received some basic info in the mail in December, and called back to schedule the next step, but were told they do orientation once a quarter and there had been one recently – the next one would be in the spring of 2011. So we went on with life and I read up on foster care kids, foster care challenges and every blog about fostering/adoption I came across. I recalled my experiences as a house parent to 22 kids at the children’s home in Florida and thought how “easy” it would be to only have one or two kids to care for.

Earlier this month we finally heard from the Foster Care Manager that the next orientation was scheduled for this week and gratefully, it fell on a day Kyle already had off and we could easily attend. Grandma Char and Aunt Molly came to watch Jackson and we sat through a 67 slide PowerPoint presentation on how our house needs to be set up, rules and regulations, information on procedures and how the system works and detailed information on foster care needs in our county.

Later in the afternoon we started on our Mt. Everest of paperwork with duplicate forms going to different state and local agencies, realizing once again that government is anything but efficient. 😛 We also heard from a 12 year veteran foster parent on her experiences and some of her favorite tips and tricks to making kids feel at home and loved in a difficult time. She said two things that really stuck with me.

The first: “The hardest part is always letting them go home.” And the other was her personal vision for fostering to adopt.  She hopes is to adopt as many kids as possible from the MN Waiting Children list until she is too old to do so. Let me tell ya – she’s no spring chicken either – I’m guessing she is near 60 and her youngest adopted child is 5. So far she has adopted 8 kids and more are going to be the lucky ones to have her for an adoptive mom.

I learned that most adoptions of kids in the Minnesota system take just about as long as it does to grow a baby: 9-10 months. Sometimes it can take up to a year if its a confusing or complicated case. There are about 350 kids waiting to be adopted in our state right now. I share this mostly because it was interesting information to me, not because we are actively pursuing adopting through the foster care system. We are definitely open to it if God brings us a kiddo that can’t be reconciled to their family and needs a forever home.

I will not lie: this is a little nerve-wracking for sure. You never know what placement you could get. You can’t possibly know all the pain and hard things a kid has experienced in their short life until you start loving on them and it unravels. I feel like we have absolutely no idea what we are getting into, but am confident that with the massive amount of resources and the power of a Mighty God at our disposal, we can do this. “He is faithful who called you, who also will do it.”

Thanks for your interest, prayers and support as we start this adventure! It will take 2-4 months for us to complete the licensing process and are ready to accept kids. Placements have been down over the past few years in our county (a very good thing!) but there is a possibility other counties would bring their kids to us if we’re available. At the beginning, we will be available for emergency shelter care and respite care and later we will move to longer-term placement status and foster-to-adopt.

So here we go! Into the wild blue yonder that is full of clouds of grace and mercy. We just want to be faithful to Christ’s call to be his hands and feet – to care for the orphan and widow and to be His light in a dark world.