Foster Mom: Opening Our Home To Kids In Need Changed My Family Forever

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“I think we should become foster parents.”

When I first made that statement to my husband, he looked at me like I had suddenly sprouted a third eye in the middle of my forehead. We had been considering expanding our family through adoption for some time, but foster care had never occurred to him. Adoption had always interested me but this was a new avenue that I wanted us to consider. When he realized that I was serious, he grinned and said, “What do we need to do?”

I made a phone call to our local Department of Children’s Services and we were on our way.

In our state, you are required to take a series of classes over the course of six weeks to become a certified foster parent. These classes seemed to never be in the same town twice or anywhere near us for that matter. With two school-aged kids, two full time jobs, my chronically ill in-laws that needed our help and very little down time, this was going to be quite the undertaking. We got our work schedules set, babysitters booked weeks in advance, and dove into the deep end of the pool.

We had done our own research about how kids get into foster care but were not prepared for some of the subjects we had to cover during our classes. Horrific stories of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, extreme neglect and severe trauma that could make a statue weep. Stories that will make you go home and hug your children and be sorry for ever yelling at them for not putting away their shoes. Stories that will make you angry, make you sad, make you sick and wring you out. But it was these stories that made us more determined than ever to trudge on.

When we began our training, we thought, “We can do this. No problem. It’s just raising kids, right? We can love them through it.”

We were wrong. Oh, so incredibly wrong. It is taking care of kids with love and understanding, but it’s so much more than that. It’s first night jitters with lots of tears. It’s excitement and dread when a placement specialist calls. It’s staying up all night with a crying child and trying to work the next day. It’s trying this food and that food because they won’t or can’t tell you what they want. It’s crying yourself to sleep because you think you’ve made it worse for them. It’s trying to explain to your biological kids why this child is afraid of whatever they’re afraid of without telling too much. It’s taking them to school where they don’t know anyone and worrying about them lashing out, shutting down, or having a meltdown from a trauma trigger. It’s a lot of the same worries you have with your biological kids, but amplified in ways you’d never even considered before.

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