A Typical Morning
This morning began like many of my mornings. With one of my kids lying on the floor.
“What’s up sweetie?”
“I don’t want to brush my teeth!”
“Grown-ups don’t have to brush theirs! I’m never brushing them again!”
I can’t argue with that logic, at least not this morning. I’ve got 4 kids to get ready for the day and a 9:00 meeting to get to. This morning and every morning are probably just like any other parent’s mornings. Fun, loud, chaotic, stressful, full of love. The entire range of emotions before breakfast!
A Desire To Foster
My morning may be like any other mom’s morning, but my family is being built a little differently. I am a foster mom and I wouldn’t change this morning or any morning for anything in the world.
My husband and I knew a lot of people who were foster parents and thought it was an awesome thing. We had that culture built up around us. My husband had a college professor who had fostered over 80 children over the course of 30 years! We saw a tremendous need as well as the tremendous impact. We wanted to be part of that.
A Service Trip Sparks A Flame
Seeing the people close to us foster children was a tremendous influence on us, but we didn’t take action until after my husband and I took a service trip to the Philippines. We were interacting with local people in a non-tourist location and witnessed things that had a major impact on our lives. Now, the child welfare system is vastly different in the Philippines than it is here. We visited a church and found a local pastor caring for 15 orphans living there. It broke my heart.
We began researching international adoption. We quickly found there were a lot of barriers to us being able to adopt internationally. We realized there were a lot of kids here that needed homes too. Our eyes become open to the needs of children right in our community.
How Do You Handle It When A Kid You’ve Fostered Goes Home
I was that person! We were that family, that was absolutely terrified. I knew I could love a child that I didn’t grow, but I didn’t know I could handle it when a kid went home. That was my biggest fear. We began our journey with the intention to foster to adopt. We wanted to know that whatever kids we loved we wouldn’t have to say goodbye to. But, this process absolutely changes you. We’ve been fortunate to have adopted one wonderful child (and are in the process of our second!), but we’ve gone from our biggest fear being a kid going home to it being our biggest hope. We’ve seen two kids go home and it’s been fantastic. Seeing a family be successfully reunited, to see them be put back together is a tremendous and humbling accomplishment.
I’ve Never Parented (a teenager, a child with special needs, a child with behavioral issues) I Wouldn’t Know What To Do
We are capable of so much more than we think we are. We are fostering a teenager right now. I’ve never parented a teenager before, and I don’t know what I’m doing. I taught high school and my husband and I led a youth group. We were around teenagers all the time. We had a lot of experience with teenagers, but we didn’t think we could handle a teen in our home. But it’s not as hard or scary as it seems. We came to realize having a teen in our home is just like loving those teens we taught. There may be new challenges and different circumstances, but if you love a child you can make it work.
How Do I Overcome My Fears?
Fear holds so many people back. Fear has a way of keeping us from doing things that we would otherwise be great at. The fear of what is it going to be like with the other children in my home. The fear of if their behaviors are out of my control. The fear of losing them. These are all valid fears, but they shouldn’t hold you back from doing what is right. Talk to people who have had experience fostering. Know that you will have support from your agency. At Beech Acres Parenting Center we work to build a supportive community around our foster care families. Know that you will have a network to support you.
I Don’t Know Where To Start
I didn’t know where to start. I felt like a deer in headlights. The first step is choosing to be brave enough to try. Bravery is not about not being scared. Bravery is about doing what you know is right regardless. We were prepared and wanting to foster for about two years before we moved forward on pursuing licensing. We were emotionally prepared, but not logistically prepared. Seeing how much joy this has brought to our lives, I wish we would have moved forward sooner.
I Heard (Insert Myth About Fostering Here)
There are a lot of myths out there. Some are true and some, well, not so much.
Myth 1: There are too many rules!
That’s true. There are a lot of rules. Including a number of strange sounding rules, lots of scrutiny, and many standards to comply with. That is true.
Myth 2: You have to be married or have a two-parent home.
Not at all! Loving parents come in all shapes and sizes! Almost anyone who is ready to love a child can be a foster parent. We have many successful single parents, unmarried parents, gay parents, straight parents or unmarried partners that foster.
Myth 3: There is an income requirement.
While it is important that you can demonstrate your ability to financially support a child, your capacity to love a child is not reflected by your financial status.
I Think I’m Ready
You are absolutely able to succeed in this if you decide you want to. It’s all about making the choice to step forward despite the fears you may have. Remember, the effects on the child you care for and on your family are far greater than your fears.
Give me a call, today. That’s right, I’ll probably answer the phone when you call and we’ll get started together. (513) 233-4707 Or visit our website to learn more.
Candace Caudill is a Licensing Coordinator at Beech Acres Parenting Center. She and her husband have two biological children, have fostered four children, adopted once, and had two children they fostered reunified with their biological family. They are in the process of adopting a second kiddo!