Saturday, April 27, 2013

Do you have a question about my child?

I had started off writing this as one long blog post, but have now divided it into two.  I'm going to start with a variation of the same intro, though.

So.  It's not a secret that I'm licensed to foster a little one and have been researching and learning so much about how to be the best foster mom I can be.  That means I now have friends that are fostering, friends that are adopting domestically, and friends that are adopting internationally.  Some of these friends are people I've never met, but we keep up with each other via Facebook and blogs, and I've been blessed to meet several by dropping meals off when needed.

I read this post, by Missy at It's Almost Naptime, a blogger I have been following for years, more years than I've been in the foster care process.  We've never met.  But y'all.  She's real.

I read this post a long time ago and have been mulling it over for awhile, because I resonate with it in a completely different way than the topic she is writing from.  I can see where she's coming from.  But, I haven't lived it yet.  I currently resonate with it in a way I wrote about here.

Since the topic of fostering and adoption is close to my heart, and since so many of you that read this are dear to me, I'm going to pretend that we're each holding a cup of our favorite drink, with our shoes kicked off and our feet tucked up underneath us while chatting in my living room.  Because that's exactly how I'm sitting right now...join me!

Missy's main point...that I that before you ask deeply personal questions, ask if now is a good time to ask a question.  Everyone may have a different reason for that.  I will only speak for me.  When you ask me, "Hey, can I ask you a question?"  I immediately know the question (which will become more than one real fast!) is personal.  I'm cool with this, but it helps my mind prepare, and I can help the conversation to become the serious and in depth one it's about to become.  Just ask ahead of time and you won't catch me off guard. :)
Okay, here we go! :)

Fostering and Adoption are not the same thing.  You may read that and smile, but many people think they are the same thing.  Or they think people only foster until an adoption can be finalized, and that's not true either.

Foster Care is something adults can do, through the state, so that children being neglected, abused or without care for a time can be taken care of, in a safe home, until either their biological parents can care for them properly or the judge terminates parental rights and the child becomes adoptable.  This process may take 6 months to 1 year, typically, though I've heard of it taking up to 2 years.

Adoption is when parent(s) enter into the process intending to bring home a child to their forever home.  This means, from the beginning of the child entering the home, the parents intend to go through all the legal needs to make the child a part of their home forever.  It ALSO means the child is already adoptable.

It is possible to foster-to-adopt.  This means the child(ren) is/are not yet adoptable.  They currently need a foster home, but the current legal situation looks like the child(ren) will be adoptable eventually, and the parents enter this relationship with the intention to adopt the child once the child is adoptable.

Many people have asked me if I'm intending to adopt and my answer is a fluid one.  I don't know.  I didn't think so.  But maybe now, yes?  You might ask me that question once and get one answer and then hear me answer it completely differently when another person asks me that question a month later.  I thought I could compare this to whether you want to buy a house or build a house and how someone's answer might change to that, but I don't want to compare a child to purchasing a building, so I don't have an analogy for this.  It's just where I am right now.

I'm not far enough into this process to have heard many questions, yet, so this list will not be lengthy.

Q: When will you get a child?  or  When will they call you?
A:  This question is similar to "When will your water break?"  It's a little ridiculous, because there is NO WAY TO KNOW! :)  At this point, I am "due."  I'm licensed.  They can call at ANY TIME.  2am or 2pm...they can call.

That question is usually followed with this one.
Q:  Why don't you have a child immediately?  I thought there was a huge need for foster parents.
A.  There is a huge need for foster parents.  However, every foster parent has the right to put parameters on the age, gender, medical-needs of a child they're willing to accept.  I have said any ethnicity, girl only, ages 5-10 (elementary school aged), only one child, without a violent history.  The major restriction I'm placing is that I'm only willing to take ONE.  Many kids in foster care are siblings.  Since I am single, I am only willing to have man on man defense.

Q:  Once they call, when does the child come to your home?
A: This depends on the placements.  From what I understand so far, there are planned placements and emergency placements.  Planned placements may take a couple of days.  This gives the child (usually a teen) time to say good-bye to others.  In an emergency placement, the child may be in my home within 30 minutes, but probably a couple of hours.

Once I explain my parameters for a child I'm willing to foster, there are other questions.
Q: Why only a girl?
A: Since I am single, and many children in foster care have been through things no human being should be able to imagine, I am only willing to work with my same gender.  This one can be a little offensive to people sometimes.  Usually if they're a parent of boys.  I don't mean to offend (though, I admit, I don't think it should offend.)  I'm trying to make the best decision for me and a future child.

Q: Why not an infant?  They're precious and you could raise him/her from the start.
A: Yes, infants are precious.  They also need child care.  Most of the foster parents I've met are a couple with a stay at home mom and a working dad.  That does not describe me.  I can't afford child care and the state of Texas doesn't provide for it for foster kiddos.  Not to mention, infants are awake a lot and I have no one to trade off middle of the night wake-up calls with.  :)

 That's all the questions I'm being asked right now.  (See, I told you the list wouldn't be lengthy!)  I'm sure the list will grow once a little one joins my home.

A little heads up.  In the future, when you see me with my little girl and you do have questions,  please do not ask anything in front of her.  That's one thing I haven't ever experienced with Angela.  No one has asked me a question about Angela or disabilities in general when Angela is around.  (See this post for questions about my sister, Angela, who has Down syndrome.)  Please show the same respect to my future daughter(s) and do not ask any questions while she is there.  Also, please know that it is HER story to share, and I may not be able to answer all of your questions about her background.  There may be information I do or do not know that I cannot share with you.  I have signed a legal confidentiality agreement to not share this information.  Even if I had not signed that, it is not my story to share, but hers, and just like you wouldn't want all your personal business hanging out for all the world to see, neither does she.  However, if you have questions about the fostering process in general, I will be more than happy to answer them!  These questions are still better asked when a little one is not around.


  1. I really like your admonition not to ask questions about your little girl while she is with you. And I also love your point that her story is HERS to share. Both of these have been challenges for us since Julius joined our home as an infant. At three years old he understands what other people are asking, but but that is not the context in which he needs to hear his story repeated. And even in the past when he was too little to understand, I regret having been so free to tell anyone who asked how he came to us and what his background is. This is personal information that he deserves the right to share as he pleases. I have to remind myself that people don't NEED to know. They are curious, just like I would be, but they will survive without all the gooey details. For me I have to get more comfortable with gracefully saying no when asked. This is hardest for me when kids ask, because unlike adults they really can't conceive why Julius is brown and I am not. Or if they can, I want to clarify their notions. A second grader asked me the other day in front of Julius, "So it didn't work out with his parents?" While I thought her phrasing was hilarious and I wanted her to have the chance to understand, I had to tell her we could talk about it another time. But I'm not even sure whether or not it is my place to talk to her about it at all. Anyway, I'm learning; I just pray that God and Julius deal gracefully with my mistakes along the way.

  2. Oh, Heidi! I TOTALLY understand! There were major things I didn't think about before C came to live with me. There were things I thought would be a big deal that weren't a deal at all, at least with her. I pray for the Lord's guidance and discernment for both of us!