Becoming Foster Parents
“For years, my husband and I worked with youth through our nonprofit outreach program. At the time, my husband pastored a church in the inner city, and it’s through this ministry we started the outreach program.
Over the span of ten years, we watched and worked with youth in the neighborhood. We witnessed the latchkey kids, those with food insecurity, and those who had been abandoned and neglected.
We noticed there was a need for more involvement. We knew the statistics and the outcome for these kids, especially young black boys. We were fully aware of how little brown children are disproportionately represented in the foster care system.
We knew we wanted to do more, and we had the extra room in our home, so we decided to help. We took the necessary steps and became licensed foster parents.
We waited by the phone, ready to open our hearts and home to a child. We received our first placement, a sweet baby boy, but we felt a tugging in our hearts to do more. Six months later, we received a call for a little boy, a kindergartner.
We would be his second placement — a disruption is what it was called. After two years, the woman he referred to as his foster grandmother was calling it quits. She could no longer care for him. So where would this little boy, this little dimple-faced, high-pitched, cartoon character voice kid go?
His caseworker had already called three other homes and was desperate to place him. He needed somewhere to go. He needed a home. He was a cutie, but let’s face it, before long it would be hard to place him.
From the very beginning, his worker made it known she had no time to waste on his case and she was calling us because we were a ‘pre-adoptive’ home. It was made clear we needed to hurry and decide if we wanted to adopt him or she would try to find another family that would.
We knew black males were hard to place, especially the older they got. We understood her plight and his so… we said yes.
There was truly something special about him. Aside from being adorable, he had so much potential. His previous foster grandmother had done a phenomenal job of making sure he was on task academically.
Challenges Of Fostering
However, the next few months would prove themselves to be challenging. We now had two placements — two little boys equaling two cases, two caseworkers, double the doctors appointments, court dates, therapy sessions, you name it.
Nevertheless, he was home and he’d made himself home. He wanted permanency, and we did too. He wanted answers, and we did too.
The questions kept coming. ‘Will I be moving again? Will I see my family again?’ Questions no kindergartner should be asking. This was just the beginning, the initial ‘honeymoon period.’ This was the testing of our dedication to him, to see whether or not we were truly all in.
Parenting is hard and parenting children from hard places can sometimes be harder. Yet, this little kid with the politician smile and the biggest heart had won us over. One week in and he was already calling my husband ‘dad.’
It would take a while for him to come around to calling me ‘mom,’ and I was okay with that. We were slowly peeling back the layers — attempting to undo and unlearn and replace what was missing.
We were told in our classes ‘our love would not be enough,’ and this proved true. Your love is needed as a foster parent, however, foster parents must be well-educated and trained to help handle the issues or obstacles they may face.
Foster parents should apply empathy rather than excitement when it comes to a placement, understanding this foster care is formed out of trauma. On top of empathy add patience, and possibly expect delayed gratification.
Foster parenting can be challenging, but it’s worth it. In spite of it all, wholeness and healing were taking place and we were slowly becoming a family.
Six months later, we were told he was free for adoption. It was a pretty open-and-shut case. There were no major hurdles to climb, no obstacles before us. It seemed more like a relief for the system.
We were all ready for this day, and 10 months after coming into our home, Dwayne was finally adopted. There would be no more disruptions for him, no more moving.
That was four years ago, but it seems like yesterday. Dwayne, the little kid who needed a home, had finally found his place.
Today, Dwayne is a thriving fourth grader, an avid reader excelling far beyond the statistics, and beyond the negative expectations.
I’d tell any prospective foster parents to consider opening their homes to not just babies and toddlers, but to middle age adolescents and teens.
Please consider those kids who are often looked over and, rather than looking at what you currently want, try fostering love into that child’s future.
What matters most is the love and resilience that resides in the heart of these children.”
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