“My daughter came to live with me when she was 18 months old. I am a single foster and adoptive parent. I have been fostering for 3 years and I had the honor of adopting my son Franklin August of 2017. After his adoption I took a break from fostering. It was a sweet time that we had just together to continue to bond before we restarted our fostering journey. My son was my first foster placement and I was able to adopt him a little over a year later. Even though I had already adopted, I didn’t feel like our foster care journey was over. I want my son to see firsthand how we need to help others in foster care and live sometimes uncomfortable lives in order to make a difference.
After those months together we were then ready for our next placement and to help other children in Jacksonville. I let our agency know we were ready to foster again, but I wasn’t getting any calls. This is such a weird mixture of emotions for a foster parent. You desire to serve and help children in foster care, but if you aren’t getting calls then you know they don’t need you. That’s something I have to remind myself often, it’s good if I’m not getting calls. But the impatient part of me kept checking to make sure that placement knew I was open to taking in kids, just in case there was a miscommunication. My licensing specialist assured me that everything was good on their end, just wait and the right call will come.
A few days later, my licensing specialist called me back.
‘There is an 18-month-old girl who is being removed from family and needs a new foster home,’ she said.
‘I’d be happy to have her live with me and Franklin,’ I replied.
We had the weekend to prepare for her joining our family and we were excited to get her room ready and prepare our hearts for her arrival on Monday. He was eager to meet his new playmate.
On Monday when my daughter was dropped off by her case worker, the case worker said, ‘Her mom is doing well on her case plan and it looks like she will only be in care for a few months. I don’t anticipate her being in your home for long.’ We were thrilled to hear this news and happy to be able to provide a safe place for our new family member for as long as she needed it. The first few days with a new placement can be difficult and sometimes we are just in survival mode. It’s such a short amount of time to have that big a change in the family dynamic. Most people have months to prepare for a new family member, but we just had days (and that is a long time in the foster world). But my daughter was a trooper and adjusted to our family so well. She was all smiles and it didn’t take long for us to hear her sweet giggles. She really enjoyed playing with Franklin’s toys and seeing the little gifts we had for her in her room. I couldn’t believe how quickly she and Franklin bonded. Pretty soon they were chasing each other around the house and holding hands. I kept hearing them say, ‘You’re my best friend!’ They are only 14 months a part, so I felt outnumbered pretty quickly as if I had twins on my hands. I think the fact they had each other helped my daughter adjust quickly into our home.
I was thankful to hear that she most likely wouldn’t be with us long since reunification was around the corner. I think because I was told this, my heart was more guarded and I tried to keep my emotions in check. I didn’t want to have my heart break when she left. I remember the day she knocked those walls around my heart down. I was talking to her on her level and she cupped my face with her hands and she giggled, and I was hooked. She melted my heart and I realized that I loved her. I knew she was supposed to leave, and reunification is the purpose of foster care, but I cared for her. The fact is, no matter what – she needs my whole heart. It is worth my heart breaking if that means she was loved well when she is in care. This is what foster care is supposed to be like.
But sadly, things changed and her time in care kept getting longer and longer. Then it became clear to all those involved that her being reunified was not in my daughter’s best interest. The day in court when the goal changed to adoption, there wasn’t a dry eye in the court room. My daughter was there, and she was playing with the toys in the courtroom and then walking up asking to be held by me, my mom, her advocate. I kept looking at my daughter and thankful she was unaware of what was being decided in the room around her, but sorrowful for the relationship with bio family that was going to be severed. We all had hope that this family would become whole again, but it wasn’t the safe option. This is the heartbreaking side of foster care and one we don’t desire to see.
A few months later I was asked by the case team, ‘Would you be interested in adopting your foster daughter?’ I hadn’t let those involved know that I wanted to adopt her because up to that point it wasn’t about adoption; it was focused on reunifying families as it should be. But for me, it wasn’t a question if I was going to apply to adopt. The first day she walked into our house, it felt as if she was home. We fell in love with her and we truly saw her as family. Even though the journey to adoption is hurtful, I was glad we would be able to step up for her.
We had the home study then completed and we all looked forward to adoption day. I had taken in my son’s biological brother, Theo, in a few months prior and the kids were excited that they were going to share an adoption date in May. Every day they would ask, ‘Is today our adoption day?’ They loved that they were going to share finalization days. But we then hit a bump in the road that delayed my daughter’s adoption. After I completed the home study there was a competing application that came through for her. Until the judge announces that you are a family, I always hold my breath. Theo was able to be adopted as planned in May at a special Mother’s Day event, but we didn’t know the future of my daughter. Here we went to thinking that we would adopt her after sharing our home and hearts for over a year, to thinking she would be adopted by someone else. We prayed for her to be adopted by the right family and to prepare our hearts if it wasn’t to be us. But after months of interviews we heard the news… I was chosen to be the mom of Katherine and she was to be adopted into our family.
On October 29, 2019, nearly 2 years after she was placed in my home, Katherine had her adoption day. She had been looking forward to her day for months and it was finally here. We had a courtroom full loved ones, and everyone involved in her case. Those who felt comfortable had the opportunity to say a few words. The licensing specialist who called me about the placement of Katherine said, ‘Bethany was my one of my first foster parents and I was able to be the one to call her about taking in Katherine as her next placement. It was a long road but I’m glad that they are able to be a family forever.’ I can only describe Katherine’s journey as a rollercoaster for her and everyone involved. But I’m grateful every day that she is safe, she is loved, and she is home.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Bethany Moore. You can follow her journey on Instagram. 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.
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