Getting to Know our Foster Child

The first night we got little girl “A” (to protect her we will call her that), we put her to sleep on the couch and I lay awake next to her the entire night. I was mostly just looking at her. I bet it is the same for new birth parents as well? I was in awe of her little face!

I was also curious about her likes and dislikes, wondering about basic things like where was she born and when was her birthday, unsure whether or not she used a bottle or a sippy cup and if she drank formula or normal milk, and hopeful she didn’t have any allergies we didn’t know about. These were just a few things I was thinking about.

The next morning was a Sunday. It’s kind of weird, to show up at church holding a baby, when the entire congregation knows you were neither pregnant nor are you Hispanic like the child in your arms. At that point most people did not know we were going down the foster parent path. There were a lot of questions and looks.
Most of all there was love. Within hours we had people we didn’t even know dropping off clothes and toys, toddler food, parenting books, blankets, a high chair and a crib!

We made the 45 minute trek to Target that afternoon to get a few additional essentials. Here is another weird part about fostering… We knew nothing about her parents other than the fact that they lived nearby.  With this information I was on high alert with basically everyone we encountered in the store. I was looking up and down at absolute strangers wondering if they were somehow related to our foster daughter. Did that guy look like her? Did that lady look at her a little longer than normal? I was nervous we might run into mom or dad, aunt or uncle or cousin, grandma or grandpa or a family friend. What would we do if some angry person walked up and tried to take her?!

Also, the entire 45 minute car ride I was turning around in my seat looking at her. It is very surreal to just get a baby like that. I wonder if Pharaoh’s daughter experienced any of these feelings after she plucked little Moses out of the river? I was looking at her with love and yet at the same time wondering, “who in the heck are you?” Perhaps it is also like that for birth parents, as you wait for your baby’s personality to emerge? I imagine it’s a little weird for any parent to suddenly have a kid in the backseat? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Xo,

Kara

“God does not call those who are equipped. He equips those He calls.” – and sometimes that just means some very awesome people showing up on your doorstep with hand-me-downs

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The Arrival of our First Foster Child

We got a call on a Saturday afternoon. It was 3:30 PM. It was a caseworker from our county asking if we were available to take in a baby girl that evening. She had left a message. She wasn’t positive the child would be removed from her home, but it was likely. I told Adam about the message fully expecting to have a very long conversation about it. Not because I thought he wouldn’t be up for it. Only because this was uncharted territory and we had plans. We had plans that night, we had plans the next day, we had plans the following week and the following month and beyond. All of our plans did not involve a small child because, well, we hadn’t planned on having one that particular month. The conversation with Adam was not a long one. His response to the invitation was more of a, “Really? Oh my God. Sure.” Adam is just awesome like that.

I called the caseworker back. I asked a few questions. “How old was she?”

They weren’t sure exactly. 

“How long might she stay with us?”

They weren’t sure exactly.

“When will you know if she is in fact being removed from her home?”

They weren’t sure exactly.

With all that information, how could we say no?!

I told the caseworker to keep us posted and hung up. Two hours later she was back on the phone, “the baby is on her way.” Ten minutes later they knocked on the door.

Luckily we had a few donated toys on hand. I pulled them out of our trunk and the baby with the perma pout on her face slowly started to engage. After 30 or 40 minutes and one signed release form later, the caseworkers handed over her diaper bag and car seat and left. I was alone in our house with a baby and without a clue in the world what to do next! It was now 6:30 pm.

We had nowhere for her to sleep that night.

We had no sippy cups.

We had no extra diapers or wipes. (She had arrived with two diapers, 4 outfits and a blankie.)

Most importantly, we had no experience!

It’s kind of an awkward thing, having two caseworkers you don’t know walk into your not-totally-clean-house-because-you-weren’t-expecting-this with a child in arms who is about to be in your care. They came through the door. I rubbed the little girl on the arm and asked her how she was doing. Wait. Really? “How are you doing?!” To a baby who probably can’t speak and is in the arms of a stranger after suddenly being taken from the only life she’d ever known.  I wasn’t off to a great start. Ten minutes later I was at it again when I asked her in my limited Spanish if she wanted a cookie. “Tienes un caballo?” The caseworker informed me that in reality I actually told her that she was now the proud owner of a horse. Shoot! I was zero for two!

In the weeks and now months that followed, it quickly became evident that when it comes to parenting, you don’t actually need that much. You need lots and lots of love. And, if you want to have a ton of fun, a cardboard box!

We have not yet had children of our own, so I am wondering what you guys think of the standard 9-month pregnancy? Does it seem like forever? Is it a necessary period for preparation? Would you make the pregnancy period longer or shorter if you could? Do you have any advice for a different opening sentence for next time – something other than “how are you?!” (omg).

XO,

Kara

“Cause all I know is we said, “Hello.”

And your eyes look like coming home

All I know is a simple name

Everything has changed” – Taylor Swift

Foster Care Process-ing

 

I am afraid of so many things! 

Most involve personality flaws, including the desire to be liked, loved, respected, to have the right answers… the list goes on and on.  The sign to the right hangs in my office. It serves as a daily reminder to step out of my comfort zone and go big. Yet fear sometimes cripples me and holds me back from living bold. Do you experience this?!

One thing I was not afraid of was getting certified to take foster children into our house. I don’t know why I wasn’t scared, I probably should have been! I guess fostering children didn’t interfere with one of my many psychoses. :o) What does make me a little nervous is sharing stories about our experience. Yet I have many and we are learning so much!

My hope in sharing these upcoming posts and stories is multi-fold. For starters, I want people to better understand the foster care process. It is a process you need not be scared of, and there are around half a million kids in the US who are in the system (a quarter of a million children entering the system each year). These kids are in need of homes! (Link to the data.) I also believe God has so much to teach us through children. As a first time mother I would love to share what I am learning and hear your perspective too.

In posts to come I will further outline the fostering process and our experiences, but please comment if you have specific questions and I will try to address. I would also love to know I am not alone… Are you fearful? What are you afraid of? I’m hoping to face some fears head on in 2014. Want to join me?

With love,

Kara

“Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love.” -1 John 4:18

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I am your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” – Isaiah 41:10