‘The social worker brought out a 5-day-old baby, wrapped in a blanket, and said, ‘Here you go!’ There were so many unknowns.’: Foster mom shares journey, ‘It’s beautiful chaos’

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“We were young and in love at the ages of 18 and 21. We got married the following year, at 19 and 22 years old. In the beginnings of our relationship together, we had many conversations about our future family, including kids we would adopt from foster care. We have had several close family friends adopt children through foster care, and we saw ourselves following in their footsteps.

Fast forward a bit— we had been married for several years and had two biological boys of our own. In February of 2018, we were watching an online event put on by some dear friends and one of the topics the speaker shared was foster care and adoption. The speaker had his wife and kids come up on stage (some of whom were adopted through the foster system) and they shared some of their story. They then shared the urgency for families to open their hearts and their homes for kids in need. We were both a weepy mess— a good kind of mess— but our hearts were awakened in a way they hadn’t been before.

Courtesy of Carleigh Conant

For the next several weeks, we continued to grow more confident our time was coming soon to open our home as a foster family. We talked to our kids and we all agreed this was our next step together.

Courtesy of Carleigh Conant

It took about 9 months to take all the necessary classes and go through the approval process. Once we were approved, we got a call later that week about a 5-day-old little girl. We took a bit to talk and pray about it and then ended up saying ‘yes’ to taking her in. We quickly added some infant girl clothes in the laundry and prepped the house for a newborn. This was the first week of the pandemic, so things were pretty shut down and there were so many unknowns about the whole situation. We weren’t allowed to go into the group home where the baby was temporarily staying, so the placement worker brought her out to our car wrapped in a blanket and said, ‘Here you go!’

Courtesy of Carleigh Conant

We signed all the paperwork and finished up the practicals remotely. It was quite a shock to get a call and pick her up within a few hours, as simple as that. We were told it was a likely adoption situation, but like all things regarding foster care, there are no promises.

We loved her as our own. She was such a joy to have in our home. Our biological boys absolutely adored her. They helped feed her, change her, and loved to hold her.

Courtesy of Carleigh Conant

We had baby girl with us for 10 months and then she was transitioned to a loving biological family member’s home. Of course, our hearts were broken, but we trust the process and are grateful she is in good care. The grief comes in waves. Some days we seem to be doing just fine, while other days we mourn the reality this sweet little girl is no longer in our home. Thankfully, we have been able to keep our relationship with her family, and have occasionally gotten to see her. This has truly been a gift.

Courtesy of Carleigh Conant

Being a foster parent comes with all the feels. It takes you to the highest mountain tops, and also to some pretty low valleys. There have been days we want to throw in the towel and choose an ‘easier life.’ But we know ultimately this is what our family is called to do, and there is so much joy and fulfillment in that.

Being a foster parent is not about what we can gain. It’s about what we can give. We are here to bridge the gap for families who couldn’t do it on their own. Whether the children reunify with their biological family or end up getting adopted, we are loving these children for however long they are in our care as if they were our own flesh and blood. As foster parents, we have the privilege to offer love, safety, nourishment, and stability these kids might not have otherwise received. It’s not always easy, but my goodness, it is a beautiful chaos.

Courtesy of Carleigh Conant

Currently, there are over 437,000 kids in foster care in the United States. 118,000 of those kids are waiting to be adopted. More than 23,000 foster care youth age out of the system every year and many end up homeless.

We hope our story inspires others to realize you don’t have to be a perfect parent or wait for ‘the right time’ to do foster care. You just need a safe, loving home, and a willingness to learn. If you are interested in hearing more about how you can be a part of the foster care solution, contact your county’s social services organization or find a local foster care/adoption agency to get more information.

Steve Limones Photography

All you need is a safe loving home and an open heart. Together, I believe we can make a change that impacts an entire generation!”

Courtesy of Carleigh Conant

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Steven and Carleigh Conant from Orange County, CA. You can follow their journey on Instagram here and here, and their website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more touching stories like this:

‘Are you ready for another?’ What would we do with a newborn? We knew he was supposed to be with his siblings.’: Couple adopts 4 siblings from foster care, ‘They changed our lives’

‘Did he think we abandoned him?’ I was still grieving. He hardly slept day or night. I struggled to feel connection.’: Couple foster to adopt, ‘If you don’t get attached, you’re doing it wrong’

‘At 11, his adoptive parents abandoned him at a hospital, never to return. ‘Mr. Peter, can I call you my Dad?’ I began to cry uncontrollably.’: Single dad adopts 11-year-old boy from foster care after biological, adoptive family abandon him

‘That night I cried in my driveway for a child. 10 minutes later, I got a call. ‘Can you take in 1-year old twin boys?’: 26-year-old single foster mom says ‘I was called for plans bigger than myself’

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