Today our blog comes from my dear friend, Pat. I have known Pat for over 17 years and Pastor Husband has known her for much of her life as they grew up going to the same church camp and their families knew eacother. Pat is the wife of a real sweetheart of a fella and momma to one sweet little boy and foster momma to currently one little girl. Please let Pat know how much you appreciate her. Thank you, my wonderful friend, for sharing with my readers! I love you!
I never, ever thought that it would be me…
My dream was to be a wife and a mom…it took a long time for the former; I wasn’t planning on waiting too long for the latter. On our first anniversary we stopped taking birth control and waited to see two pink lines on the pregnancy test. Month after month, nothing, finally, one month, I saw two pink lines…only to have a miscarriage two days later. The trauma of two years of fertility treatments soon followed. We discovered that we could conceive, but for some reason, I wasn’t able to carry a baby for more than 5 to 6 weeks.
I was devastated. I felt that I was letting my husband down, my family down and that God had cursed me with barrenness. I especially felt that God had let me down. I was so angry and so scared. The desire to be a parent was SO strong in both of us, and we couldn’t have a child. Every time I went to the grocery store and saw a baby bump, every time I checked Facebook and saw announcements that another friend was going to have a baby and every time I saw one of “those” news stories of a parent harming their children I raged against God. Why was he punishing me, why was he hurting my husband through me? That is a whole other story in itself, but I must say that I had to grieve. I had to grieve the six angels that are waiting for us in heaven that we never held in our arms, and I had to get to a place where I said, not my biological child, but the child that God places with us.
The very first place that I began to look was into private adoption. First, I wanted a baby…second; I had seen all the “lifetime” movies about kids from foster care. I was very afraid that a child would be placed into our lives that we would love with all our hearts and 5 years later, it would be decided that they should go to their bio family and they be ripped from our arms. First let me say that private adoption is a beautiful thing. A birth parent that chooses to place their child for adoption chooses life for that child when there are so many who would tell them to kill it because it was convenient, BUT we didn’t choose an agency that helped us to feel that. Instead, the deeper we got into the process with the agency the more expensive it got, and the more it felt like we were trying to buy a baby. In the process of working with this adoption agency, we conceived and miscarried babies number 5 and 6 and our case worker decided that I was “too emotional” to be a parent. She told us that we were going to be dropped from the agency…to me that was the final nail in the coffin of my being a mother, and again, it was my fault.
One of the most devastating things that happened during these struggles was all of the commenters and “Christian” advisors. I was told everything from, “relax and you’ll get pregnant” to “What sins have you committed that you haven’t confessed?” I dropped completely out of church, I detached myself from all of my friends who had children, and I told my husband to find a wife who could help him be the father that I knew he could be. I felt completely and totally abandoned and rejected. I gave up my dream of ever parenting, but the desire was even stronger than ever before.
(If you want my husband’s perspective on all of this, you would have to ask him…that’s his story)
In July of 2010, a friend who had known of our struggles sent me a message via facebook with the contact number for Arrow Child and Family Ministries (http://www.arrow.org/). He posted that 3500 kid in Texas alone were waiting on families, but I wouldn’t contact them…I’d been dropped by another agency.
In December of 2010, I got a call from a social worker in Arizona. My mom had spoken to them about our desire to have children and that we were thinking of adoption. Because I was raised on the Navajo reservation and am an “honorary Navajo” they were approaching me about the possibility of adopting a Navajo child. I was floored. I told the social worker that there was no way that she or anyone else would give us a child due to the experience with the previous agency. She asked if there was something in my background check that came back bad. When I explained the whole situation, she said, “That’s the craziest thing I ever heard, and she asked to send me an application. This got me to thinking and that afternoon, I contacted Arrow.
Mike and I transferred our file to Arrow and began our training classes in January of 2011. Many of the fears that I had about adopting from foster care were alleviated. I learned that children can come into foster care as early as 2 days old. I also learned that in the state of Texas, a bio parent has about 18 months to change their behaviors and to work a parenting plan if their children are taken into custody. I learned that adoption from foster care is virtually free, and that the state gives incentives for children to be adopted from foster care. I also learned that children adopted from foster care come with baggage and I had to be ready cope with that.
We completed our classes in February, had our home study done in March in in April received a call that a 4 year old boy was free for adoption. We were approached to submit our home study for him because they were being very selective about who he would go to. We said sure…this was on a Friday. The following Tuesday, we got a call that we were at the top of the list for the child to be placed with us, please send pictures of our home and of ourselves. Thursday afternoon, we got a call saying that we were selected to possibly be this child’s future parents and that his foster mother needed respite for the weekend…did we want to try him out. All this came about without us ever seeing a picture or knowing anything about him other than he was 4 years old.
J came to our home Friday afternoon, Mother’s Day weekend. Nia Vardolos talks about seeing her 3 year old adopted daughter and thinking, “I’ve found you”…That’s what I felt the second I saw J. We had to take him back to his Foster parents that night, but he was with us permanently 4 days later. We hope to finalize his adoption in December.
We now have 3 year old foster daughter who came to us at 3 a.m., we are keeping our fingers crossed and sending up much prayers that we will get to keep her forever as well.
Our story is not typical for adopting from Foster care…Here are some things that you do need to know about this journey.
Most kids already free for adoption are older, part of a sibling group (please keep them together) or have medical needs. There are two paths to adoption from the Foster care system…matched adoption or foster to adopt. Matched means that they are free, and you’ve been selected to parent (most of these are older children). Foster adopt…most of the babies are put in these types of placements. The children are not legally free for a time, but if they do become free for adoption you are the first one asked. This is risky but rewarding.
1. Find an agency that will support you. If you are a person of faith, Arrow is wonderful and has a wide reach in Texas.
2. If you can’t find an agency, DFPS will train you as a foster parent, just don’t expect much support.
3. Things you MUST be able to do if you become a foster/adopt parent:
a. Get fingerprinted by FBI…this is one of the only expenses that you will incur
b. Get your home inspected by both the health and fire marshals, check with your agency or city about requirements.
c. Decide what type of path you want to take in adopting from the foster care system.
d. Know that you can discipline a child without being physical. (You cannot physically punish or spank a child in foster care…after you adopt…different story, but not always best).
e. GET a support system.
f. Get your home study done, and wait for placement.
4. Foster parents DO get a monthly stipend for the children in their care…if you think this will help you earn money…it won’t…if you are in it for the money…we don’t want you.
Going this path to adoption is not the easier path…children are not in foster care for no reason…ALL children in foster care are there due to abuse, neglect or abandonment…the orphan child whose parents were killed and has no place to go doesn’t exist anymore. Be prepared for great rewards, but be prepared for greater heartaches. Have your own “stuff” dealt with, because a kid coming into your home will bring it to the surface.
I look back on my journey now, and find that God was leading us into a direction that I really didn’t want to go down, but at the same time he did some preparation along the way…the anger, the abandonment and rejection I felt are all things that my children felt and continue to feel. Do I still want a baby? Yes, but there are advantages to having your children come to you potty trained and able to tell dirty jokes (J’s favorite…the white horse fell in the mud). Who knows who else God is going to put in our lives, but can I imagine our life without our children…no.
Once I heard a story about a couple of kids to be placed with us, and I asked Mike…Why could that person have children and not us? He responded, “so that hurting children could have a place to come.”