We’ve always discussed the possibility of fostering since the beginning of our marriage. After our careers allowed us to transition to Atlanta, we knew it was the perfect time to move forward with our initial plan. However, we didn’t quite know what to expect with the process, and it had its challenges.
Our process began with attending an informational session at the local foster care office. Following our attendance, we were given a large packet of information to fill out and return. We were required to provide documentation about our finances, previous residences, social history, references, and even answer questions about our childhoods. Honestly, this is where our frustration first began. We submitted our packet a total of three times because, unfortunately, it was lost twice. Even with the disappointment of losing our packet twice, we knew that we had to keep the process going and try again. It was not about my husband or me. These were minor setbacks in comparison to the bigger picture, which was the kids and their futures.
After our required packet submission was reviewed and accepted, a home study was the next step that had to take place. The agency visited our home to ensure it was safe for children, and they looked everywhere!
Life is hard enough, and there shouldn’t be an added weight on their shoulders at such an early age.
Once our home passed the home study, and we passed the background check, our orientation training was up next. Throughout two weekends, we underwent extensive training. Admittedly, some days were heavy because you’re placed in the child’s shoes, and they show you some of the experiences children in the system go through.
But the reward proved fruitful because we became officially licensed as foster parents! Overnight we went from having only one child to a total of three. Our biological son was five, and we added two more sons to our family, a four and another five-year-old. It was a huge transition, but one thing that helped us navigate the challenges was that we included our oldest son in every step of the process. We communicated with him before moving forward with any decisions. We wanted him to know that his voice was heard, and any feelings he experienced were valid.
Even with preparation, there wasn’t anything that could’ve prepared us initially. We quickly realized within the first week of all of us being in the house that one of our sons had development issues while our other son had behavioral problems. Luckily, my husband and I are advocates of therapy and fortunately, we found a therapist for both boys, but subsequently, we each had to take a lot of time off from work.
That initial adjustment made us second-guess whether or not we made the right decision. One of the challenges was us having to take off work and sit at school with one of our sons to ensure he behaved. At that point, we were on a first-name basis with the principal. Our other son, we were fostering, had severe developmental delays and unfortunately, these concerns were not discussed before they were placed in our household. It was a lot to deal with mentally and emotionally, but we endured and prayed for guidance, and after a while, we decided we weren’t going to let this overwhelm us.
It took us a moment to remember the “why” behind us wanting to foster children, and it was to ensure kids knew they were loved and experienced it as well. We advocated with the foster care system to enroll them in therapy sessions and provide the special services they needed to thrive. Over time we started to see a significant change. One of our sons went from having behavioral issues at school to being tested for the gifted program. Our other son was previously in a special needs classroom but is now in a regular class with minor modifications.
This entire journey has taught us that when a child is loved and genuinely supported, they have no other choice but to succeed.
To see them now and how far they’ve come, we can’t begin to thank God enough for the joy and happiness they brought in our life. In March of 2018, it was an awesome day for our family because we adopted both boys. They are forever ours! This entire journey has taught us that when a child is loved and genuinely supported, they have no other choice but to succeed.
If you are considering adoption, I encourage you to attend your local foster information session and ask questions to determine if this is the right fit. If you can’t foster right now, consider supporting a local nonprofit backing the foster care system. We founded a nonprofit called Village Connection Inc. that provides foster care love bags to children when they enter into the foster care system instead of having their belongings put in trash bags. Remember, every little bit counts, and no child should grow up believing they are not loved. Life is hard enough, and there shouldn’t be an added weight on their shoulders at such an early age.