‘My little sister and brother were taken to a foster home. They were only 5 and 3 years-old. They were so scared.’: Woman recounts journey to becoming a foster parent ‘we needed to take one step at a time’

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“I don’t know why I remember it was on a Tuesday. Why do we remember things like that, but we can’t remember what we had for breakfast yesterday or where we put our car keys?

My eleven-year-old self-ran to my bedroom fighting back tears. I called my best friend. Isn’t that what eleven-year-old girls do when something happens? She didn’t know what to say. I just blurted out when she answered the phone that my little sister and brother had been taken to a foster home. I didn’t know when I would see them again or even where they were. They were only 5 and 3 years old. They would be so scared.

A few weeks later we finally were able to visit them at their foster home. They seemed happy. The foster mom was nice. We only got to play with them for a while, but it was wonderful to be able to see them. Not long after that, they moved in with us. We were all four together again. Our lives were forever changed.

That was my first experience with foster care. It was a personal one. But still, I’ve never been a foster child. I wasn’t oblivious to the fact that foster children existed. I knew there had to be children that weren’t living with their parents in my school. I just never heard anybody talk about it.

Fast forward my life for about 20 years, and I decided to start a foster journey of my own, but this time with my own family. I wanted to be the nice foster mom. The thoughts of foster care popped in my head here and there a few times, but I never said anything. I honestly didn’t think my husband, Jeff would go for it. Would he be understanding? Would he care about foster kids? I really didn’t know.

We were just hanging out one evening on the couch watching mindless television. I had never remembered seeing an advertisement on tv for the need for foster parents, but there it was. I still didn’t say anything. But he did. My husband just blurted out, ‘We should look into that.’ ‘Into being foster parents?’ ‘Yeah,’ he says. So of course, I do a google search. I think that’s standard procedure for literally anything that you decide to do. We read a little bit of information. I put my Kindle down and that was it.

Time goes by so fast. Life happens. Occasionally, being a foster family would cross my mind. Occasionally, I would mention it to him and that would be all that would be said. Literally one year after that first Google search we went to the information meeting in our county. I really had been praying about it and decided if God wanted us to do it then we will. If He didn’t then for Him to do something to make it stop. If there was any kind of roadblock we would just walk away. I mean we did already have two boys, jobs, and a house, and you know, our own life to take care of.

That first meeting was a lot. Lots of information and terrifying statistics about our county and the number of foster children. It was so heartbreaking. We walked out of that building into the dark parking lot on, yes, another Tuesday night, and just didn’t know what to do. So much information was given to us that night. How could we help but also protect our little family? Would fostering these traumatized children hurt our boys or help them? Would we have time? Would we have enough love to give and energy to give it? So many questions that needed answers.

Then we realized we didn’t need all the answers. You don’t have all the answers when you’re having your own child. Why did we need so many answers now? We’re supposed to be letting God take the lead on this. So, we needed to just take one step at a time. One decision at a time. That’s all.

We already decided that we didn’t want to foster children that were the same age as our youngest. They had to be younger. We thought that would be the first roadblock and that then God would have stopped us, so we’d walk away from it. But Social Services said that was fine. We can say no when we get a phone call if the child’s age or for any reason at all we do not have to say YES to every call. Then the training, oh wow the training, so many hours. My husband worked out of town. There’s no way we would have been able to commit to the initial training. That’s it, I thought. God has stopped us.

Nope, they worked around it. We were able to meet one on one with a social worker so we could get our training and ultimately a license. Another roadblock cleared away.

Our journey started in January and by the week before Thanksgiving, we had our license. We were officially a foster family.

Do you know a foster family? Were you once a foster child? How do you help foster families?”

Courtesy Julie Long

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Julie Long. Follow her journey on Instagram hereDo 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 stories from Julie here:

‘I had to remind my son whose prom has been postponed, ‘It could always be worse.’ School was their haven. It was their happy place.’: Mom asks others to not lose their perspective, ‘It could always be worse’

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