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My Life as a Foster Parent

Foster Parent – Our Life Thus Far with the Foster Care System

While I have blogged about many topics, for some reason, this one has been much too personal.  Training to be a foster parent and taking a child into our home has been something I have kept to myself in many ways.  I have shared with my friends and family that my husband and I were embarking on this journey.  I have even shared with friends about some of our joys and struggles with fostering, but really I’ve kept so much to myself.

I internalize much of my life while sharing windows in, but they are selective.  Today, I’m opening one more window a little wider.  My hope is that you will know a little more about fostering, a little more about how God is blessing our family, and a little more about how God is faithful even in the hard places.

Training to Receive

We began our training to become a foster parent in January of 2017.  As my husband was still unsure of the process and his feelings about being a foster parent, we were planning to do the training in order to find out if fostering was a fit for our family.  I was praying the whole time that God would stir my husband’s heart toward accepting a child into our home.  In honest, our infertility has left a place that I was willing to use to bless a child who needed a home.  I sincerely wanted my pain to become a blessing rather than a curse.

Packet Mayhem

During the training, we received a packet of forms.  This thick packet was to be filled out and returned to the resource worker.  No timeline was given to us for this packet.  So upon opening up this packet, I organized it neatly in a binder.  We slowly filled it out, trying to make sense of the jumble of information.

A few months later, we get a call from MDHS asking us to get the packet finished within the week or everything would be reset and we’d have to take the class again.  Panic!  At this point, James had agreed to complete the packet and the home study so we wouldn’t have to redo the classes, giving us time to decide.  However, we were in a rush to get all of this paperwork done in such a short amount of time.

After asking them to give us until the end of the month, we succeeded in completing the packet, taking the online classes, and finishing all the little details that allowed them to see into our life.  The home study was our next step.

Home Study – Preparation and Paperwork

Our home study consisted of three separate visits.  We met a kind lady who spoke to us about our lives and made sure that we were fit to be a foster parent for Mississippi.  She interviewed me, my husband, and my son, Josiah.  In addition, she had the task of being sure our house was adequate for an extra child.  That meant we needed to baby proof, have a twin bed and a crib (for the various possible ages), and have a generally clean house.  Everything went smoothly although it was a bit of work to clear out the extra bedroom in order to make our home welcome to a new child.  My craft room disappeared and a sanctuary appeared in its place.

The last step of the home study was filling out a form telling MDHS what characteristics you were willing to accept in a child and what you would not allow.  As James and I were going through the list, he started expressing that we could really help a child with ‘this problem’ and that we would be able to really benefit a child with ‘this other issue.’  In this car ride, as we went over this list of possible issues we could face, I began to realize that God had opened James’s heart toward fostering.  He said that he would be willing to take in our first child.

Accepted and Placed

A month after our home study, I called to see if we had been accepted as foster parents.  We had!  I was overjoyed.  We finished up last details with the room . . . and only a week later, we get a phone call.  We are asked if we would accept a young school aged child into our home.  We both said “yes” and our foster journey began in full.

The First Month

The first month went by in a blur.  Most parents have 9 months to get used to the idea of having a second child, then start out with a baby.  We had a little while to think about what it would be like to foster, but two kids are definitely different than one.  We dove right into public Kindergarten after having homeschooled our first through Kindergarten.  Our two boys had a lot to learn about each other and about getting along (they still do).

After Six Months

We have now been foster parents for six months.  While this was a slow journey in the beginning, we can see so clearly how God prepared us to be foster parents, especially for this little child.  Life isn’t quiet and it isn’t simple.  There are more chores to do and bigger messes.  I have had to learn new skills relating to discipline, nurturing, and cultivating positive habits.  We’ve had to CHANGE and GROW.  It has been a journey and it has been worth every step.

Even though the system is broken . . .
Even though the road is hard . . .
Even though the paperwork is lengthy . . .
Even though you won’t know every answer . . .*

Consider if God is calling you to open your home, your life, and your heart to a foster child.  You might very well be committing to have you heart broken, but isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for us?  He committed his heart to be broken and his body to be broken for us.  Is it too much to ask that we risk heartbreak to give security to a child in need?

Brooke Shambley

THE Boholistic Mom

*(Partial inspiration: This Hard Calling – Even When)

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