name is Meagan, and I am so honored to be here!
I will be answering your questions about foster care/foster to adopt. When Shay
called to ask if I would consider doing this post, I couldn’t jump on it fast
are currently more than 100,000 children in the U.S. in foster care awaiting their
forever family. Encouraging families to open up their hearts to foster care is
something I am very passionate about. Before we begin, I am only speaking about
my experience. We are new foster parents, knee deep in love and uncertainty. Each
and every foster care journey is different, just as every placement is uniquely
special, with its own challenges and blessings. These answers are strictly based
on our experience fostering to adopt our two girls.
domestic or international adoption?
fostering to adopt in our hearts, it happened fast and it felt urgent. Before
that, we had only discussed adoption as a future possibility. As we know…God
has His own plans. The cost of a domestic or international adoption wasn’t something
we felt like we could do, but honestly, the calling we felt deep in our hearts
was to adopt through foster care and there was just no questioning it. Fostering
to adopt can be a long process- usually 12 months, or more, but the cost is
very minimal. Regardless of the cost, if God tells you to do something, you
to start, so I called a non-profit in our town called Embrace and asked for them to give me
recommendations for agencies. It was so helpful! I most definitely recommend going
through an agency. Foster care is a very lonely process and your agency can
work as a great support system. God placed fostering to adopt on our hearts, in
November 2014. We started praying and researching a lot and, finally, began our
paperwork in February 2015. Since you cannot bring children to the training, it
took us longer than some to finish our training classes, since we had to get
babysitters. We finally finished the entire process and became a certified
foster to adopt family on September 29, 2015. It was such an exciting day!
foster care is often times funded by the state, and in most cases, there are
little or no fees, which varies by state. Medical subsidies and financial
assistance are often available until the child is 18 years old. During your
training, you pay for a CPR class ($30), TB test, background check (for each
state you have lived in), fingerprints, and our agency required us purchase two
books and a DVD. As a courtesy, some people will pay for the background checks
for babysitters, which need to be certified in order to watch your foster
children. I am not as familiar with the details of the cost of domestic
adoption. Speaking of the financial aspect, several of you asked if you had to
make a certain amount of money or if debt would prevent you from fostering.
There is no income rule, but you do have to disclose everything. And I mean
everything. Your agency will review this and discuss any concerns with you. Once
you get a foster placement, your agency will pay you, monthly, based on your
child’s level of care.
rules…When we were first starting out, I was so overwhelmed. How was I ever
going to keep our house perfect all the time? It made me an awesome person to
live with, let me tell you… That lasted way longer than it should have, and
then I finally gave our family permission to live in our home. As we speak,
there’s legos and army men all over the floor upstairs and I don’t care. It’s
great! We follow the rules, but we no longer live with them hanging over our
heads. That is freeing! Our agency gave us a binder that I keep on the shelf in
our pantry, in case I ever have any questions, I can always refer back. I also
keep an accordion binder, in the diaper bag, with our foster daughters’
information/placement papers. This goes with us everywhere. *Side note: I take
notes on everything from weekly progress to bio visits. This has been super
important. Document everything! Send this to your agency monthly.*
order rule of thumb, has worked best for our family. Discussing this with our
bio children ended up being very reassuring for them. You really have to pray
and trust that God will lead you in the right direction. I know plenty of
people who have adopted older children and it’s been the perfect fit for their
family. This is an area where you don’t need to beat yourself up. You can be as
specific as you want. You know what your family can handle and what you can’t.
Fostering is hard. It is very hard. God will stretch you in ways, you’d never
imagine. There is so much about this process that you have zero control over, but
this is an area where you can. You will be asked a million and one questions
about your placement preferences, between the paperwork and the homestudy. With
that said, when you get a call for a placement, the information they are able
to share with you is often, very little. Our specifics were pretty simple:
basic level/girl/age 0-12 months, but we were willing to go a little older.
Notice I said “one girl, age 0-12 months” and we ended up getting a two baby
called “Matched Adoption.” These are children who are in the foster care system
and parental rights have already been terminated. Most of these are sibling
groups and older children. This is a wonderful option for a lot of people.
Because we have three bio children already, we wanted to stay in our birth
order and adopt a baby. To do this, you have to become certified as a foster to
special needs due to the treatment prior to entering foster care?
is, these children are broken and hurting, so their needs are more intense. The
training classes will prepare you for this. Regardless of their level of care,
they are coming to you with a past you may know very little about. You will find
out more information as time unfolds. It will break your heart and give you
more understanding of certain behaviors. There are two books that I would
highly recommend, that gave me confidence: The Connected Child by Karen B. Purvis,
Ph.D. and Wounded Children
by Jayne E. Schooler
have on hand while we are waiting for the placement call?
questions to ask our agency when we got the placement call. I carried this, a notebook,
and a pen everywhere I went. Once you get the call that you are “official,”
stop screening your phone calls! Besides having their room ready to go, the
essentials would totally depend on the age you are waiting for. Usually, you
will have time to run to the store to grab age specific items, after you get
the call. Or, you could be as lucky as I was and get the placement call while
you’re at Target! Score!
jammies, stuffed animal, swaddle blanket/wombie, night light, different types
of pacifiers, bottles.
stuffed animal, night light, water bottle, snacks (Consider getting a snack
basket for their room. Remember, a lot of these kids have had malnutrition and
this could be a comfort for them. Otherwise, you might notice them hiding food.
Even our one year old did this when she first arrived. She would hide cheerios
under the corner of the rug. It just broke my heart).
and prayed for the Lord to prepare their little hearts to serve. It’s one thing
to dive into this with your spouse…It’s another thing to ask your children to
join you in something that’s going to flip their world upside down and bound to
break their hearts at some point in the journey. Ultimately, we spoke to the
kids, and told them very simply that God had put fostering to adopt in our
hearts. We explained what fostering meant and told them there was a baby out
there that needed a safe, loving home and that we wanted to offer our family to
them. It’s so easy for the kids to forget that the babies don’t belong to us,
so we do a lot of reminding about “loving on them for as long as God has them
in our home.” Keeping it short and to the point is important- you can always
give more details if they ask.
came, I was concerned that someone would recognize them, but that quickly stopped
when we ran out of milk and cereal. Life goes on. Doing normal, everyday things
with these kiddos helps them feel like a real part of the family. We do not
live in the same county that they were removed from, so this isn’t a big worry
for us. I know this is not the case for many.
safety reasons, we have very little contact with the bio parents. I send a note
about the girls to every visit. I know several foster mamas who send a notebook
and pen, in the diaper bag, and write back and forth with the bio parents,
often sharing milestones, so the parents can still feel apart. I was able to
spend an hour with our girls’ bio parents, at the CPS office. It was very
difficult and I was a basket of nerves, but I am so glad that I went. It was a
meaningful experience for me.
the child without permission. Most people have “lovey” nicknames that they use
instead, especially on social media. If not, using an initial, like “A” is
perfectly acceptable. Doing this keeps things private. We call our girls
“Sissy” and “Sister.” We are adoption-minded, so we have a running list of baby
names, in a safe place, in case the girls become a part of our forever family.
Some people may decide to keep their birth name, or a piece of their name to
honor their birth family. Other families change their name completely,
signifying a fresh start.
most popular question and I am not a bit surprised. I get asked this all the
time, but I hear- “I could never do foster care because I could never let them
go” or “It would be too hard.” We have had the girls a little over 3 months
now, and just the other day, we thought they were leaving. Just like that. I
felt a pain like I can’t explain. Loving a child that might leave is the most
difficult thing we have ever been called to do. We are committed to
experiencing the pain of loving and losing these girls. Even if they leave us,
they have gained a great love they might not have experienced before. We are
backwards in our thinking, if our fear of sadness overrides the fact that no
child deserves to be without a stable, loving family.
a disservice if I were not completely honest with you. Foster care is a high
risk commitment. Parenting hurting children is a whole different ballgame, and
then throw in a bunch of tedious rules, an agency, CPS, and an attorney. For
our family, the biggest risk was that we could end this journey with broken
hearts, instead of an adoption. For us, it is worth the risk to love these
children, with all our hearts and accept the costs that may come because it’s
worth it. Foster care is a beautiful expression of the Gospel. It’s worth the
risk, this I know.
become a foster family?
I would have researched the Department of Family Protective Services for my
surrounding counties. This is something I didn’t do beforehand and regret. Join
a Facebook foster care group for your area. This will be a great resource. Foster
care is a whole lot of waiting on the system. The State’s number one goal is
reunification and the process is long and not always logical. Document
everything and commit to being their voice. If you don’t speak up, it’s likely,
no one else will. When no one else is fighting for them, you do it. You be
fearless and faithful until. Foster care can feel very lonely sometimes. Try to
connect with other mamas who foster or who have adopted. It will feel like a
breath of fresh air. Find friends who are your safe place, who you can be
completely honest with, without judgment. I’m talking about the ones who will go
to the grave with your secret kind of friends. Hold them close. Live and love
in the moment, it’s all you are guaranteed. God will stretch you and refine
you. It hurts, but it’s also the most beautiful experience. These children are
in God’s hands. You have to trust in that.
the opportunity to answer your questions. I will be praying for God to stir in
your hearts, a desire to serve Him through foster care. If you have any other
questions, I am happy to answer them in the comment section.
If you have questions, please leave them in the comment section, and as she has time, she will answer them ;). To see all of my posts on adoption, click here.
Now, bonus…Meagan is also my resident expert on another very important topic…and will be sharing that with us next Wednesday! Thank you Meagan for everything! Love you friend. xo
On my foodie blog today…
See the simple recipe for this fancy sounding dinner here.