“My Story Monday” is a weekly segment where foster parents anonymously share their stories, tips, and advice. It is intended to encourage prospective foster parents and demystify the journey of fostering. You can view past stories here: My Story Monday.
My Story Monday: It Started with a Dream
My daughters were getting older. They were in late high school, and I began asking the Lord where he wanted me. I was mentally preparing to go back to teaching as I had taken a break to be home with the girls for about 6 years. After a while I began to have a series of dreams that were very vivid. I brushed them off, but one day when I was asking the Lord again what He wanted me to do, I remembered the recurring dreams I kept having that would progress a little bit more each time.
My dreams started out with me in a very sterile looking room with a young 2-4 year old African American boy sitting alone on a cot. I kept asking why the little boy was so sad. The dream repeated exactly the same way the next time but progressed to someone finally answering me and telling me, “He’s sad because he doesn’t have a mommy.” The next time I dreamt about it, it started all over again progressing to me bringing him home. The interesting part was that it was my exact home, guest room still unprepared for a child, and my husband was in his office working, just like normal. I remember panicking that we didn’t have what we needed so we headed to Target. I remember that he had remained sad until he saw some Spider Man pajamas. His whole face lit up, so we bought several pairs. That was it. Ironically, one of the littles we have now and have had for 16 months arrived with a Spider Man pajama top on and is an African American little boy.
After those dreams, I questioned the Lord and asked him if He wanted me to foster. I told him that if that was the case, He would have to work on my husband’s heart because I was not going to approach him about it and get in a fight. I waited about a week, chickened out, and sent him an e-mail in the middle of the night. The next morning I crept to my e-mail, since he works from home, expecting to see an angry “NO” and instead was met with “ Let’s do it.”
It took us about 6 ½ months to get licensed through a private agency and 3 days once we were licensed to receive our first placement. There is a little bit more work with an agency, and the licensing is more strict, but the support we gain, in a system where foster parents are basically babysitters and have no rights, is amazing. Plus, they give additional funds twice a year for clothes, they have additional resources for help if the child needs it, they are on top of requests instantly, and they provide extras like back packs full of school supplies, new shoes, incredible Christmas presents from your very own wish list.
We are currently on children 5 and 6. Our ages have been from 6 months to 3 years old. I think the biggest challenge is helping a child through their individual trauma. They all respond differently and it shows up differently and at various times. I was also taken off guard by the attachment you develop with the children and then their return in a system that is so broken. When one has to return to a parent still on drugs, for example, you can’t prepare for that.
Despite the challenges, my husband and I are both shocked at how blessed we feel to be a part of these kids’ lives. We didn’t expect to feel so honored and blessed. Currently we have an almost 3 year old. He came to us at 18 months and screamed for 3 straight months. He now laughs and plays like any normal little boy. For him to go from hitting, screaming, never smiling, gagging over all his food in front of him, to a trusting, loving, joyful child is huge.
As far as our marriage goes, I feel it’s added to our strength. We have had frustrations with each other when we were both tired and the children were struggling, but those are only just moments. I never expected we would love every single kid that we’ve taken in. We still grieve the ones that have gone home to homes that aren’t stable and worry about them every single day. It adds worry in the sense that we hope we did enough to keep them from repeating their parents’ behaviors and patterns.
To make it in this journey, you need commitment, patience, forgiveness of yourself, and the knowledge that you can’t fix everyone and you can’t take them all in. You have to be able to love even when you don’t think you can. When people ask me, “How do you let them go? I don’t think I could do it!” I generally respond with, “Haven’t you ever been through something hard and painful and yet you dealt with it? We are adults and we know we will survive all kinds of emotional pain, but these kids, they aren’t equipped yet. They just need to be shown that there are adults out there that will love them at their worst and meet their needs.”
[This interview has been edited for readability]
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