Who loves fall more than me?! Pumpkin everything is EVERYWHERE!! I get all giddy on the inside as August starts to phase out. I can smell the fair food, hear the laughs and giggles of people on the rides. Fall makes me think about going apple picking, pulling out my comfy sweaters and leggings, and settling on my couch with a hot cup of cider or pumpkin coffee. There is that smell of crisp leaves in the air, and a walk or drive down the street offers the beauty of all the leaves changing colors.
But, while I love fall, this year is a little different…
A few Saturdays ago, I was sitting in bed when I should have been preparing to go to the Fresh Market, but I was looking at my Parents Magazine that was finally delivered. Parents Magazine reminds me that, even though I’ve been on this journey for 21 years, it’s still nice to know I’m not alone at it. There are others who share my thoughts, and even if they have differing opinions and parenting styles, I’m not tucked away trying to do this thing alone.
We are on another journey in our home with foster care. And when we started preparing for what that entails, I was pretty sure of myself and my parenting skills, to be honest. I found myself reassuring my wife that it wouldn’t be easy, but we would be great.
As the licensing social worker went over things and handed us the mountain load of paperwork, I thought, “we have this in the bag.” I’m a former foster child myself and am now a social worker. So, I thought our foster care to adoption process would be easy.
We had a couple of home visits from the social worker, and a visit from the fire marshal. Then it was time to begin the interview process. I soon started to feel a little uneasy. Not because we had done anything wrong, but my childhood wasn’t perfect. I didn’t hide anything though. Our agency knew from the beginning that I spent most of my life in foster care. So why was I feeling nervous?
As our interview began, my wife could tell something was wrong. I’m usually the talker, the all in your face one; the “let’s put it all on the table one.” But on the day of our interview I was quiet; sort of hidden in the background, having questions asked.
At one point the social worker was staring right at me and I thought I was going to have a panic attack. My wife excused us for a moment and as we went to our bedroom, she asked what was wrong. I’m usually the leader, but on this day, I needed her to lead.
I swallowed hard and then said, “I can’t do it.”
She looked at me with a blank stare and asked what I meant. All I could do was say the same thing again. “I can’t do it.” I said it but I couldn’t believe those words were coming out of my mouth.
I waited my entire life to be a foster parent; to give a child home, keep them from aging out the system without a family, helping them through the trauma. It would be me healing from my own trauma, and finally being able to do my part, what I had prayed so hard for.
So, I said what I had been thinking…
“What if I mess up?”
I continued by saying,
“Look at the mistakes I made with the boys. I’m not perfect, I’m human. People will judge me if mistakes are made. When I made mistakes with the boys, we worked through them within our family. If I make a mistake with these babies/children so many people will judge me; so many others are going to be watching me.”
My wife replied to me and said,
“Are you nuts? No, you’re not perfect but you’re a great mom. Trey wrote his senior paper about you and shared it with the entire school. Even when things are crazy you find a way to mend it. I’ve never heard a parent apologize for their part in a situation, but you do; you celebrate them, you still do their laundry and clean their bathroom. We can do this!”
Then she reminded me that children aren’t looking for perfection, they are looking for love, a family, a nurturing place to call home; a place to know they will always have, a place where they belong, a place to feel safe and work through their trauma, someone to celebrate them no matter how small or how big. They want someone to tell their dreams to, their own cheering section, a place to cry knowing that someone will be there to help them wipe their tears. A place where they can be who they were born to be. This was everything I had shared with my wife as we started our journey together.
We went back to the other room to complete our interview. We shared with our social worker what was going on, and she assured us if we didn’t have any concerns, that she would be concerned. She assured us we would be just fine.
I wouldn’t say fostering to adopt is easy, but when you step into it for all the right reasons it gives you something to think about. Trauma is never easy in any aspect of life but knowing that you were able to step into the gap for a few moments or a lifetime, it’s all the same. Children aren’t looking for perfect parents.
If you can’t adopt, then foster. If you can’t foster, then sponsor. If you can’t sponsor, then volunteer. If you can’t volunteer, then donate. If you can’t donate, then educate. It all adds up. We are standing in the gap and doing our part.
There are more children in foster care than homes that are available for them.
There are 400,000 plus children needing a permanent/temporary home in our nation. If you want to learn more about fostering you can contact your local DSS, DFYS office. A few of our agencies here in South Carolina are listed below:
- Lutheran Services Carolina
- South Carolina Heart Gallery
- Bethany Christian Services
- The Bair Foundation Child & Family Ministries
- Palmetto Association for Children and Families (PAFCAF)