I began the process to become a foster parent in January of last year. I was tired of waiting for Mr. Right to make it happen. I thought I would be a foster parent for several years, help some families, and eventually be able to say yes to forever.
On August 30, 2017, I received an email saying I was approved, and there was a sibling set.
I became a first-time mom to three kids. Everything I imagined it would be was wrong.
I was able to help out some local families with respite for their kids over the next three years. Three days before Christmas, I experienced my first reunification. I look forward to the day when I can experience that again.
I got a call for my now forever son in January 2019.
He would end up in adoption because his mother had a long history with the state. I was nervous but excited when I said yes. His early days were hard. I had two rambunctious boys that I loved, but they were a lot on their own. When he came to us, he was so small that we called him Tiny. He struggled a lot in those early days. Every day was a fight to stay healthy. He came through it like a champ.
In the beginning, he had a few visits with his mom and that’s about it.
It took a long time to get us to adoption day because he was hardly cared for. It was ten times harder if you had no family. There were a ton of legalities that had to be met to ensure the cabinet did their due diligence in trying to find his parents. Post that, Covid had shut down everything.
Finally, we got our date in the court on the 18th of June.
His worker said the hearing was the shortest she had ever been to, and the judge gave the order to end parental rights in 15 minutes. We were allowed to adopt children. We made it there three months later. Tiny’s name was now Thomas Holstein.
On the other hand, a girl named Akyra or Okra (as we call her) came out as a surprise.
I received a call from my favorite social worker.
She said, “I know you don’t do teens, but I have this girl. She and her foster family need a break. What about the weekend?”
I was willing to help, so I agreed.
The kids called her their big friend. I loved having someone around who was a fan of my movies. Over the next few months, I did respite for her.
When her foster home was put on notice, she came to me temporarily.
I was not ready to say yes. At the time, I had five under five. She deserved better than a single mom on a tight budget with a house full of little kids. They found her a long-term placement that she was excited about.
Exactly after one year after the first call, I received another one.
Just for the weekend. Again. I had just taken in a newborn sibling, leaving me with six kids under the age of six. She was part of our family at that time and there was nothing else for her to do. They had a temporary placement until they could find a long-term place.
She asked to stay as long as she wanted but did not want to be adopted at that point. She wasn’t willing to move again.
The plan was for her to stay with me until she graduated and then go into independent living in our state.
Teens who are going to age out can recommit themselves to the cabinet until they are 22. They are set up with housing, a stipend, mentors, help with jobs, school, and other things. It allows them to have a gradual transition into adulthood instead of being expected to take care of themselves.
We were joking around about her future and she asked if we had ever considered adopting a teen.
The rest was history. We said it was forever after coming to me for the last time. They squeezed us in three days before she turned 17 so she wouldn’t have to spend another birthday in the system.
It has been a few weeks since then and it still doesn’t feel real for me or her.
She was invited to an out-of-state trip with one of her friends. She reminded me that we needed to call her social worker to get it approved and then smiled.
“You are my mom now. We don’t have to ask permission from anyone again,” she said to me.
About twenty-four placements in over a decade.
I hope our story encourages more people to open their homes to foster. You do not need to have it all together. God knows I didn’t. I would have missed my kids if I waited for the right time. There are children in your community who need a safe place to land and they are not going to care if you have a small house, aren’t married, or are still trying to figure this whole parenting thing out.
They don’t need perfect families.
Say yes to adopting older kids.
I will tell you that it is not all sunshine and roses. When you have to climb through the trenches to reach the roses, they smell sweeter. Every child deserves a family. Every single one. Some people insist they don’t because they’re almost grown. Especially them.