Monday, May 11, 2009

Foster Care Journey

Paul and I have been on an interesting journey for almost three years now. Let me explain.

In the fall of 2006, we visited some friends of our from college. They worked at a place called Mooseheart, which is "a residential childcare facility located on a 1,000-acre campus 38 miles west of Chicago. It is a home for children and teens in need, from infancy through high school and cares for youth whose families are unable, for a wide variety of reasons, to care for them. Some have lost one or both parents; others are living in environments that are simply not conducive to healthy growth and development." Our friends worked in a home with early elementary school girls and it was really neat to see how their "home" functioned on a daily basis. Ashley, my friend, had mentioned she thought Paul and I would do great at work like this and it wasn't until I was there in the midst of it all that I'd even considered the notion. Paul and I talked and prayed about Mooseheart and the possibility of moving there to work in a home for a number of weeks. In November 2006, we started the application process, including interviews and another visit to the campus. In early summer of 2007, we prepared ourselves for the possibility of moving away from Paul’s family and our current house to our new position in Illinois. At the time, the home had a few job openings that we didn’t feel we could do our best work. We wanted young children, like our own children, not middle or high school children. The home had a few concerns about the size of our family (then, 3 children) early in our application process, and when a younger home needed positions filled, these concerns came back up into conversation. Every reference we had believed we could do this position well, and that it was a perfect position for Paul and myself. We knew our children would have to make some changes and sacrifices with their time and possessions, but we felt God was calling us to work with under-privileged children, no matter what the sacrifice. Well, through lots of conversations with the leadership of the home, and prayerful consideration, we decided that maybe this was not the best situation for us. We thought their lack of confidence in our abilities would conflict with how we were treated in a position and decided to not continue with the process in mid-June. Also, right before we came to this conclusion, the home told us that if we were to become pregnant with another child during our position there, which we were planning to do in the near future, that they would have to let us go. We found out less than a month later that we were pregnant. It was not the position for us, which left us wondering why God had led us to pursue this position for an entire year.

After lots of discussions and suggestions from others, we decided that we could do this work here in Fort Wayne through foster care. We knew that God was preparing our hearts for change over that entire year, and that he was placing an even greater love for hurting children in our hearts. We were sure that this was what God wanted us to pursue next. So, in July/August 2007 we started our 30 hours of class for a foster care license. The classes were incredibly eye-opening and we were excited to start on our new journey. With a new baby on the way, we thought we should take things slow and didn't rush our paperwork or application. Once we were in 2008 and were due within a few months, we decided it would be best to wait to apply until after our baby came. It took me a long time to recover from having Boo Boo, meaning a long time to get back into a good routine. Once I felt good about how the house was running (Jan 2009), I found out yet again that I was pregnant! It was somewhat of a shock and I was very sick for over 10 weeks. I was determined to turn in our paperwork anyway, so by the end of January our paperwork was completed and turned in.

Now it's May and we finally have our interview through Catholic Charities tomorrow. Our homestudy should come soon after. I am incredibly excited to finally start this journey that we have been traveling for a few years! I know our home can only hold six children according to Allen County Foster Care, so our time to do this work is limited. I can see us continuing this type of work once we move into a larger home, but that won't be for a minimum of six years. We would also like to adopt from foster care, so we are hoping God can work miracles quickly. We are continuing to stay prayerful and trying to stay within God's calling for us. Although I have my worries and hesitations about doing foster care, my yearning to help these children out-weighs my fears for my own family and how it will be affected. I am trusting that God will protect our family and lead specific children into our home that we can have the greatest affect on.

I started a book today called Another Place at the Table, and it's about a foster family that has been operating for over 13 years, and they have taken in over 100 children. I believe it will give me a good perspective before we take in any children. I have a feeling it will be a hard book for me to put down.


J-momma said...

this question may be too personal so don't feel you have to answer it, but if you really want to adopt but your home can't fit more children, couldn't you just NOT get pregnant? if God is calling you to foster or adopt, wouldn't you want to follow His plan instead of getting pregnant again? no judgment, just curious. for us, we were called to adopt from foster care and chose not to get pregnant at all (meaning not ever) and to build our family entirely through adoption, even though we have no infertility problems that we know of. to each his own obviously, but i feel like we were following what God wants for us even though we've used birth control to do it. again, you don't have to answer.

Mommy K said...

Well, we definitely still have a desire to have more children. Our plan was to wait to have #5, but God had other plans. =) We have been in this process since we only had 3 children, so our family has just grown in the midst of it all. We feel called to do this type of work, but we also don't have any clear signs we are working against God's plan in raising our own family. I have told Paul I would like to be more careful in getting pregnant with our next one because I'd like to have more time to do foster care and possibly adopt. Maybe when we get into foster care, our hearts will change about having more of our own....?? I really don't know how it will go. I feel we are open to children even later in our lives too, through foster, adoption or biologically. We won't use birth control and God's will can transcend any type of "control" we think we might have in that department anyway. So, I feel as long as I stay open and am prayerfully following God's plan, I'm exactly where I need to be. =)