Category: Foster Care

The Call

So, we had been nervously awaiting “The Call” for a couple weeks.  Any unknown number would send my heart into a flutter.  On April 12th, my phone rang around 5pm.  “Would you be willing to take a 3 month old boy?”  they asked.  I asked for more information, they didn’t have much more. They asked again, “Would you take him?” I said, “Yes” and got off the phone.  I called my husband immediately and said, “I just said yes to a 3 month old boy. He should be here within three hours.”  Ryan was excited, we both had surges of adrenaline.  There was laundry to do and my well planned for and thought through Target run.  

I headed to Target, having to pull over when I got another unknown number call.  He was coming sooner than we thought.  I asked about formula, the worker didn’t know much but said that the county uses Enfamil.  So, I headed to Target.  I got two small packs of diapers because I didn’t know how much he weighted, wipes and infant formula.  

I rushed home and told Ryan that he was coming sooner than we thought.  Our first placement was less than an hour away.  I checked the laundry, started some more and tried to eat dinner.  

We had a knock on the door shortly before 6:30.  They were here.  They brought Samuel* (not his real name) into our home and then ushered us into the kitchen to sign the paperwork.  

We signed the paperwork as the social worker told us that she was fast with placement papers.  We finished signing and talking in about 10 minutes and she left.  

Samuel* cried a lot the first night.  He hadn’t ever been away from his mom (that we know of) and he definitely missed her.  When he finally fell asleep, he slept all through the night.  I didn’t though, I can’t be sure that I slept more than 15 minutes at a time the first night that we had him and it took me weeks to finally sleep through the night. 

So that began our journey as foster parents.  I can say now (almost two months later) that I was totally prepared to be a foster parent, and I was not prepared at all for all that it entailed.  It has been a crazy adventure, filled with moments of weakness, worry and me fretting if we have made the wrong decision to get involved in all of this.  God is working.  He is faithful, but this journey has not been easy for me.  I will write more to come, but wanted to document the initial call on the blog. 

*Samuel is not his given name it is a made up name for the blog.  I cannot blog his name or post it on social media for his and our safety.  

God is Writing Our Story: The Wait

The other day I realized that this month last year is when I had my last miscarriage.  It has been a year since I have been pregnant. We have been trying to have another baby for almost two years.  We have had two miscarriages in that time.  Now that we are a year out from our last miscarriage, it seems like such a long time.  I was one of those crazy moms that wanted their kids close together.  I wanted kids one right after the other.  My son is going to be three soon and in all of my plans, we should have at least one other child by now.  

Secondary Infertility is no joke.  I haven’t been officially diagnosed, but it seems like that could be what I have.   I wonder what is wrong with me and why I can’t get pregnant around my period each month.  I feel less than other women who struggle with infertility because I have a son already. However, the pain of getting my period each month doesn’t get any less.  The wondering and the worry doesn’t get any less.  The empty womb is painful. 

However, I am a firm believer that God opens and closes wombs.  When it is His timing for me to have a baby, if it is ever His timing for me than He will do it. God is writing our story.  It is the most beautiful phrase that the Lord has ever given me to dwell on.  He is writing our story. 

The first glimpses of hope were when we started to prepare for foster care.  We knew that the process would be long, but we were prepared.  But God, in a way that only He could, fast tracked us through the process.  We finished the training as quickly as one could.  I have been so hopeful to get a call, but the Lord has us waiting.  We have been placement ready since March 16, but our phone hasn’t been called. 

So, we wait. A million times a day I think, “God is writing our story.”  We knew that the area that we live in doesn’t get many placements, so that it may take awhile, but each day that passes, I worry more.  What if we can’t adopt our first placement, how old will our son be when he finally gets to be a big brother?  Will our kids be close or will they be too far apart to be friends? 

But I have to remember, God is writing our story.  He knows. He has the answers.  He knows if I will ever get pregnant again.  He knows when we will get “the call.”  He knows if we will ever get to adopt.  He knows our hearts, He knows our desires, He knows our family.  My job is to surrender my desires, hopes and dreams to Him in this time of waiting.  My job is to trust.  He is calling me to trust and I must be faithful in that trusting.  This is not easy for me.  But, it is a discipline that I am learning and will continue to learn the rest of my life.  God is refining me.  He is calling me to be His, to surrender my will to His will.  This is how I am practically doing it, reminding myself each day that God is writing our story.  

God is Writing the Story

Writing the Story

I started worrying again, letting my mind wander…”what if we don’t get a placement for a long time?” “What if there are no baby boys that need foster homes in our area?” “What if the baby is addicted to drugs, can I handle it?” “Am I even strong enough to do this?”

The refrain was familiar.  I have thought it for months since we decided to do foster care and started taking classes.  

Foster care is all about taking the “I” out of my planning for how my life is going to be.  “I want to get a baby who is just born” “I want to be able to adopt a foster child.” “I want a normal life.” “I want our family to be complete sooner rather than later.”  Instead, I have to hand over the controls.  I have to constantly submit my will over to God’s will, and trust him in that. 

As I started worrying again, my thoughts were graciously changed by the Holy Spirit.  I was overcome by peace with him reminding me that God knows what I can handle, he knows what my family can handle.  God is writing this story.  It is my job to trust Him, rely on Him and call out to Him for help over and over. 

He knows when I will get “the call” that a child needs a temporary home. He knows if that child will be reunified, have family adopt them, or possibly have us adopt them. He knows if the child will have suffered neglect or drug addictions. He knows it all.  That thought is what brings peace in the unknown.  He knows.  He knows every detail of what we will be going through.  He can lead and guide us in that.  He will give us more than we can handle because He wants us to rely on Him.  

God has got this whole foster care thing under his control.  He knows us, he knows what we need and we don’t have to be afraid of the future and all that it may bring because God will be caring for us and calling us to love this little ones for a long time into the future whether or not they end up being part of our forever family. 

God is writing this story, and I can almost guarantee that living this story will cause us our highest highs and lowest lows, yet it is exactly what He is doing to call us closer to His heart and to love the modern day orphan in our area. 

Our Foster Care Timeline

Everyone’s timeline for foster care and foster care training is different.  I wanted to document ours so that I could remember the journey that we have taken.  These are all the seemingly insignificant details that have lead us to this point. 

October 25th- We decided  that we were going to pursue foster care in the new year.  

December- At the end of December, we watched a brief orientation video and then filled out a questionnaire. We then signed up for classes.

January 5th- Three Hour Orientation

January 9th- Eight weeks of classes begin each Saturday from 9am-12pm. 

January 21st- TB Testing and Physical

January 26th- Application Submitted to the County

February 11th- Livescan (Fingerprinting)

February 24th- Home Inspection (We passed!)

February 27th- Our eight weeks of classes ended.

March 11th- Our Foster Care License Arrived in the mail.  We are official. 

March 12th- CPR and First Aid

March 16th- PLACEMENT READY!!!

We have a license for one infant 0-2 (hoping for a boy 0-1).  We are now waiting for “the call.” 

Nesting for Foster Care

With my son, I never really nested.  I have friends who move their fridges right before labor to clean behind them, or spend hours on their hands and knees cleaning the floors of their house to prepare for the baby.  I was working full time up until four days before I had my son.  He surprised us all and came a week early.  I was planning to nest, but never really got to do it. 

Nesting

So, in January we started our foster care classes, the first part of the nesting that came in was getting all the paperwork and documents filled out and sent in.  This also included a full physical for my husband and I as well as TB tests and livescans for ourselves and my husband’s parents.  Orchestrating it all was a lot, but for an organized person like me, I thrived while putting it all together.  That was sent off at the end of January.  

However, we had a list from the county of everything that we needed to do to get our house ready for licensing.  I started making lists on amazon.  With my son, I got to create a registry of what we needed.  With foster care, I just created personal lists on amazon of what we would need: fire alarm/carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, pad locks, child safety locks, bedding, new toddler bed for our son, and new mattress among other items. I loved making the lists and couldn’t wait to get the green light to start purchasing the items.  I still look at the lists daily to just make sure that I have thought through everything that we need. 

Slowly, I started acquiring stuff that we would need and nesting around our house.  I read and reread the paperwork that they gave us.  I started figuring out exactly what we needed and where it would go.  The fire extinguisher would go beneath the sink, I would move our smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector from our bedroom to the hallway, and then get a new smoke detector for our room, we would need to get at least four different padlocks to lock up our sheds and our cleaning supplies in the garage, child safety locks that actually kept our cabinets closed, I would need to move all of our medicine to a cabinet that locks.  The list was long, but I have loved nesting for foster care.  

Padlock Needed
Using my finger to measure what size padlock was needed for our shed. Everyone does it before having a baby right?

I am not a cleaner, I have never liked cleaning, it is not relaxing or fun for me (who are those women who like cleaning?  I don’t get it). However, with our home inspection looming, I started to notice everything and I desired to clean it.  I wiped down base boards, ceiling fans, cleaned underneath furniture, scrubbed all of my stove burners and the metal parts under them, dusted, organized closets and bookshelves, dusted on top of high things, etc.  For the first time (possibly ever) I was excited and energized to be cleaning my home.  It served a purpose. 

The funnest part of my nesting, was something that I did do for my son, but it was putting together a new toddler bed and then changing his crib (that was set up as a toddler bed) back into a crib.  I raised it up (anticipating a younger baby) and put fresh sheets on the new mattress.  

So, I am now completely nested.  This does not take into account the last minute rush when I find out the exact age of the child that I will be getting and will need to book it to the nearest Target to get diapers, bottles and formula.  As stressful (in a good way) that it may be, I am so excited to make that dash to Target…you can imagine me pretending to be on supermarket sweep grabbing baby things that I need.  =) 

The Insignificant Details of Foster Care

So, my blog is the The Insignificant Details, it points to all of the little ways that God moves in our lives and how He is in those details.  This past weekend, I was reminded of this blog’s name and I wanted to document the little insignificant details that led my husband and I to start the foster care process.

In 2005, I moved to Simi Valley.  Three days after moving there I met Todd and Lisa, the High School pastor and his wife.  They became some of my first friends in Simi Valley. 

Some time after that Todd and Lisa decided to start the process to become foster parents, at this time, he was the executive pastor and was preaching a bit more.  Through watching their lives and learning about foster care through them, I started to see how they were being used by God to take care of the modern day orphan in the US: the foster child.

One of my first memories is holding one of their foster kids for the first time.  I held little “I” for an hour of so.  The longest that I had ever held a baby, and the smallest baby that I had every held at that point.  I fell in love with him instantaneously. 

I was single, but I felt that at some point in my life, I would be doing foster care. Todd and Lisa continued to model loving foster children to the church and the church responded.  I watched couple after couple and family after family start the process of fostering children.  Some being able to adopt and others just loving these kiddos until their parents were fit to take them back. 

Flash forward to Ryan and I starting to date.  We had both been at Cornerstone for awhile.  I shared my heart to some day foster, and Ryan told me that he wanted to foster some day too. As we got closer to marriage, we thought that we would have a couple biological kids and then start the process for foster care with the hope of adoption. 

So, foster care was always in our plan, but if you have read my blog for awhile you know that there have been some bumps in the road of “our” plan.  We have miscarried two times and the Lord graciously showed us both that His timing is different from ours.

On October 25th, we both went to church.  While there, I felt so convicted that the time was right to start our journey.  I prayed that Ryan would bring it up without me mentioning it.  We were five minutes into our weekly drive to Costco when he said, “We need to start foster care.”  I was amazed that the Holy Spirit worked in both of our hearts the same way on the same Sunday.  

So, in short, those are the insignificant details that led us to start the foster care journey. James 1:27

When God Calls You to Sadness

Sadness.  It is something that most people try to run from.  It is something that has become my friend over the past three years. I have labeled this time in my life as a time of sadness. Now the Lord has called my husband and I to foster babies.  

Let me tell you, I am so fearful of this calling.  I wonder if I can be strong enough or if I can hold it together.  I think of a child whom I have loved reunifying with their parent or parents and I know that it is the way that it is supposed to be, but it terrifies me.  I have seen my friends do it.  Multiple times.  I understand the loss and the grief experienced. However, I worry that the loss will remind me of the two losses that I have experienced through miscarriage. I worry that I won’t be able to keep myself together and still parent my son after a baby gets reunified. I worry that I will be so broken that I can’t be fixed after a baby leaves our home.  

You hear preachers telling people that as a believer, you shouldn’t experience pain or hardship.  That you shouldn’t have financial struggles and should be blessed abundantly.  I don’t see this in scripture.  I see that those people who are firmly devoted to the Lord experience pain and trouble and many times death because they have chosen to follow the Lord. 

God isn’t calling us to be comfortable in our lives.  He certainly is calling believers to be faithful to Him.  In that faithfulness, believers should be called to uncomfortable places.  

For us, that place is destined to bring sadness. Any child that we have in our home will be coming to us because of some sort of trauma.  In their short life, they have experienced something so sad that it caused them to be removed from their parents.  They have already lost something that so many of us take for granted, a family. 

So, we are stepping into their sadness, which may also bring us into sadness, because we firmly believe that God is there in the sadness, that He mourns over the trauma this child has experienced. We also believe that in the sadness, God will bring joy.  He will allow us to see a person grow and learn and change in a way that would be impossible otherwise.  He will allow us to whisper to these children how incredibly loved they are by an infinite God who they can call Daddy. 

Our God is a redeemer.  He will redeem these situations and our part is to love on these special kids for as long as He wills us to. We need to be okay in the sadness, knowing that within sadness there can also be joy. 

The Delicate Art of Preparing to Be Licensed

We are now two weeks into our foster care classes.  We are starting to learn more of what we can expect.  We are also to be preparing our house to be licensed.  We first must be licensed and then we must do a bit more to be placement ready. 

For me, this has taken “nesting” to a whole new level.  When nesting while pregnant, you know what to expect.  You will have a brand new baby coming home and will need all the things that go along with a new baby.  There are things that you don’t worry about right away like baby proofing.  You know that you new baby won’t be able to move much, so you don’t worry about it.  You typically get stuff put up around 3 months after the baby comes home.  

With fostering, you never know exactly what age you are going to get, so while we are requesting 0-2 for our first placement, we could get an 18 month old or a newborn.  That means that we have to be ready before a baby even is in the picture.  Every plug must be plugged, every cord put away. Cabinets locked, all just to be prepared potentially months ahead of time. 

I have found this part of the planning to have a “hurry up and wait” feeling.  The truth is, we could get a placement days after our home is ready, or we could wait months to get a placement. 

The thing is, I want to nest.  I recently went to a huge baby store to look at things that I may need.  I initially went and looked for child proofing equipment but when I was there I started to think of the other things that I would need.  When I was pregnant, I would wander around those stores, so excited.  I loved registering for things and planning for my son.  With this, I am not sure who I am going to get or how old they may be. For a planner like myself, this makes life a bit difficult.  I want to buy things.  I want to make sure that I have diapers and formula.  (That caused a whole semi panic attack when I realized that I don’t know how formula works).  

There are so many unknowns in this.  I feel constantly uneasy throughout the day trying to figure out how to make things “perfect” around my house.  I am trying to figure out how to do all the right things and cross all the required T’s. 

It honestly makes me see how much I do that in my life.  The pressure to be perfect is overwhelming.  I confess that I don’t often look to the Lord in those moments of stress, but rather rely on my own strength. 

If there is anything that I am certain that I will learn from fostering children, it is that I cannot do this on my own strength.  I am not that good of a person.  I need to rely on the Lord to get me through this.  He is the one that is leading this decision and He should be the one that I am running to in the fear.  

He already knows.  He knows the children who will live with us.  He knows who we will get the privilege to adopt and who we will help reunify with their parents.  He knows. He knows the heartbreak that we will face. He will be using it to bring us to him. He is leading.  God is going to use this tornado to mold us into the people that He wants us to be. It will be my job to rest in that. 

Willingly Walking Into a Tornado

Many people look to the new year with excitement and hope for what the year may bring.  I have that.  I am excited for what God has been calling my family to.  I am excited to be surprised by my God and all that He has for us.  He surprised us big in 2015 (with the purchase of our house).  

However, I know that in 2016, I am willingly walking into a tornado.  This tornado is going to cause me and my family to be picked up and mixed around in ways that we can’t predict.  We will experience the depth of pain, joy, heartache, loss, love and fear.  We are not sure of where we are going, but we are called to walk straight into the tornado.  We are starting the foster care process.  Tornadophoto source

We have seen so many friends go into this process.  We have seen them come out of it battered, bruised, joyful, fulfilled, stressed and loved.  We have seen them live the gospel in their home.  This is not an easy path, all of them would agree, however, it is a path that is walked because our love for God is greater than our personal comfort. 

So, we are willingly walking into the tornado.  I may share about our journey here (in very vague detail).  Know this, we are scared, excited, terrified and called to this. We know what we are getting into and we have no clue what we are walking into.  But the one thing that we do know is this: our God is good, He has led us here, He will never leave us nor forsake us, He is the one that will be holding us up and allowing us to do this.  To God be the Glory.