|Our height difference is staggering in this photo isn't it???|
So it's been awhile since I wrote, I haven't been ready to write a blog post about foster care until now. I wish I could share so many of the amazing experiences we had, but due to confidentially I can only give you certain, and not many details..... I hope you understand.
We got the call from Utah State's foster care in July 2016 for a 3 year old girl who would likely be coming into Foster Care later that day or even a few days later. Zeb and I talked about it and decided pretty quickly we were ready and said yes! We ended up waiting (anxiously) about 2 days while they looked for her. She came to us about 6 pm one night face stained with tears and scared as can be. We quickly taught her about the joys of cell phone games and she played peppi play, explored our fully stocked kitchen, and clung to me all night.
The adjustment was much quicker than I thought it would be (although the first 3 nights were pretty rough). A few funny things, she (appropriately) didn't want to bathe in front of strangers..... so we ran to Walmart for an Elsa swimsuit and referred to bath time as "the indoor pool" instead. Foster care was an amazing experience for her, for us, and for everyone who got to meet her. My mom flew out and (after being background checked) helped us care for her for about a week until we were able to get her into a daycare near my work. We loved and still love her dearly and wanted to (committed to) adopt her. However, after 3 months of her living with us some extended family stepped forward to take her to their home. She is still with them and will very likely be adopted by them. They are nice and all, but of course we think she would be better off at our home! The state favors blood relatives over foster care families - always, without hesitation. Her extended family that she is living with has decided that maintaining a relationship with us is not her best interested and have cut off our contact with her. We do still text her new parents every few months and they send us pictures and have let us know that she is doing great. We are happy for her and grateful she won't have to move again as it was traumatic on all fronts. If for any reason that adoption falls through she would come back to our home and we would of course adopt her, but we are 100% sure they will adopt her and we are so conflicted with those emotions and the emptiness of our home.
I had been concerned that maybe it would be hard to love her, it wasn't. I had been concerned that she would have "issues", she didn't have any more than the rest of us. I had been concerned that our families would have a hard time accepting her as part of the family, they didn't. Foster care is an amazing thing! Our sweet foster daughter was in our home because of her family background, nothing that she had done. She wasn't scary, or damaged, or hard to love. She was an amazing resilient 3 year old that I had the opportunity to spoil, love, and teach for a 3 month "summer vacation" while her family figured things out. I hope we fade into her memory as a fun summer camp she attended when she was younger as she moves on with her life in a safer more secure home environment. But she will never fade from our memory and we talk about her, think about how she is doing, and wonder if she's happy, often.
We decided as a couple to take the 6 month break that the foster care systems provides for us after a foster child leaves your home. It broke our hearts for the state to take her away from us because they favor blood relatives over foster homes always. I think I understand (on a very small scale) how biological families feel when the state removes their own child from their home. It's terrible, it changes you, and leave you broken and empty. Gaining empathy for people's life experiences is an amazing thing! We are healing though.... we look forward to taking care of more foster children in the future. We loved the 3 - 6 year old age range and will likely stay with that for the time being. I highly suggest everyone becomes a foster parent if they are in a position to do so.
It's an amazing, life changing experience. I love to talk about our experiences and answer questions. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE feel free to contact me if you have thought about becoming a foster parent and have any questions. It's a beautiful thing to bring into your life. We appreciate the love and support of all our family and friends as we started our foster care adventure.
UPDATE: Our foster daughter was adopted by her extended family. We have not seen her in about 2 years but do know that she is loved, cared for, and safe. We miss her terribly and decided not to do foster care again so far. It was too hard and we haven't healed yet. What we did decide was to go ahead and gamble on IVF. Spoiler alert - it worked and we have a sweet baby boy who is biologically ours, that we can make decisions for, and share pictures of, and no one is going to take him away from us. I"ll tell you all about that experience in another post.