I've been wanting to write a post for a while now to fill you in on our experiences with foster care but I didn't know where to start. There's a lot that simply can't be said for privacy reasons but there's still so much I want to say about this experience thus far. Our situation is an unusual one for sure.
Two months ago we became what is called "kinship caregivers" for a sweet baby boy. He came to us from the hospital. Of course you know that we set out to adopt and never expected to be foster parents. It's not that we were opposed to it, we simply had too many children in our home already. Being considered "fictive kin" (i.e. the parents asked for us to care for him) is the only way that we can be foster parents at this point.
Since we were only one class away from being a licensed foster home, we went ahead and took the class. For the last two months we have still been a kinship home which falls under the oversight of CPS. Once our license goes through in a few weeks though we will be under Buckner. While we have had no negative experiences working with CPS we are happy to continue our relationship with the kind ladies at Buckner. Again, we are so happy we chose to go through them on this adventure to adoption and now foster care. It seems that everyone is a little baffled by our situation. With Andrew gone so many weeks at a time, five kids already in the home, and expecting another addition in a few short weeks, there's plenty of red tape to deal with, papers to sign, waivers to get, It seems we are the exception to the rule!
God's hand has been evident in this from the very beginning. Again, there are many details that I simply cannot share, but this is entirely a God thing. Not only has he given us the privilege of caring for this little guy and giving him the best start we can, but He has surrounded us with a community of believers to support us and encourage us along the way. There is simply no way I could do this alone. Any one of the circumstances we are going through right now is more than I could handle on my own. When people ask me how I'm doing this my answer is always the same: "By the grace of God." It's the absolute truth.
Despite the difficult situation and the extreme emotions (foster care combined with pregnancy combined with knowing his parents and feeling for them), we have been blessed over the last two months by countless people. Our church family has helped meet needs for meals, for diapers, for baby items, babysitters, and constant prayers. Our neighbors have enlisted the help of folks from their church as well. No need we have had has gone unmet thanks to all these wonderful people. I wish I could thank them each by name but I would surely forget someone. I have been brought to tears on more than one occasion by the love, support, and generosity of those around us. I am so thankful that God brought us to exactly where we are and surrounded us with this community of believers. They have helped sustain me, given me energy, added to my life, and helped me fulfill a calling.
We were even able to get our big, ugly, practical, beast of a van. Twelve captains chairs to spread out, keep little people in their own space, and the best part is that they can't even touch each other! Do you have any idea how wild it is to get 6 little people buckled into car seats? Or just the fact that we HAVE 6, soon to be 7, car seats? Andrew and I have often joked about needing limo glass between the driver's seat and the rest of the car but now there is no need. We need walkie-talkies to be able to hear people more than one row behind us. It's not an urgent need though. For now, I can just tell them, "I can't hear you, let's talk about it when we get home." Seriously though, this vehicle has been a tremendous blessing to us. Now we just need to sell our Expedition. Any takers?
There are definitely moments when it's hard. I don't think it's adding a baby to the mix that has been so difficult really. He is such an easy going little guy and I of course welcome the opportunity to sit with my feet up and feed him or snuggle him. It's all the regular, every day tasks that have me exhausted. Without my better half around there are plenty of things that have been let go. Washing dishes daily, folding and putting away laundry (at least it's clean!), anything more than a bubble bath for the girls (it's fun AND clean!), eating on anything other than paper plates, cooking dinner from scratch every night, going to bed on time, getting up and to school on time, and the list goes on. We are managing though, by the grace of God!
And now we look forward to baby girl Shipp joining us in the coming weeks. I admit, that part has me a bit panicked! Two babies. How am I going to handle two babies? And five others? Yes. I know it's crazy. I covet your prayers for patience, strength, endurance, and the ability to keep it together in those first few weeks. And prayers for Andrew to get a great job much closer to home. I'm going to need him for this!
We do not know what the future holds for us or for this little guy. For now we will continue to give him all that he needs and to pray for him and his parents. Our prayer has been that this little guy would have a bright and glorious future, that he would grow up in a loving Christian home, and that all his needs would be fulfilled. We don't presume to know God's plan for him, and we ask for grace to accept whatever that plan may be. I'm sure there will be many tears on all sides throughout the coming months. Please pray with us for all involved. Foster care is a tough situation for everyone. Our priority right now is to love and protect this little guy and to maintain an open relationship with his parents. Please keep them in your prayers as well.