Conviction is a funny thing.
I found over the last few years that it comes in a variety of forms. Sometimes it bubbles under the surface, sometimes you can push it away, sometimes it pierces your heart and you can't ignore it anymore. But the reality is, if it is from the Lord, you cannot outrun it forever. It will catch you.
So here begins our story. Years of running and then the dead halt slam into U-Turn sign. Sobbing uncontrollably in the aisle at church. Knowing. Hearing your husband say "Okay, I get it now."
It has been a crazy couple of months.
So I thought I would start with the questions I know are likely running through your minds. The whys, the hows, the how comes. We'll start there and then I'll keep writing. Updating on the journey as we walk through it. It will be raw and messy and hard - thank you in advance for reading.
Why foster care?
"learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause."
Scripture clearly outlines that we are to care for orphans. While not every person or even every Christian is called in the same way or at the same time, we feel strongly that the Lord has called us to this. It's a conviction and a leap of faith. Equally terrifying and exciting!
What is foster care?
Foster care provides a home to children who have to be removed from their homes due to neglect and abuse. The ultimate goal is reunification: the reunifying of a child with their biological family, which happens in ~60% of cases. When a bioparent or family is unable to meet the needs of a child, parental rights may be terminated and make the child eligible for adoption.
Foster care and privatized adoption are the systems that replaced orphanages in the United States. Research shows that children who are not nurtured and cared for as infants and children often have developmental delays, behavioral/emotional challenges and attachment disorders. To replace the rows of children laying in cribs staring at the ceiling, foster care was established to allow children to be in families during critical growth and developmental periods.
So are you fostering or adopting?
Great question! TBD. Peter and I will be dual-licensed which means we can do both. There is a fork in the road in which we will decide if we want to do a matched adoption in the foster care system (adoption of a child when parental rights have already been terminated) or foster-to-adopt (the temporary placement of a child in our home that we would adopt if parental rights are terminated).
What is the process to become a foster family?
Short answer: Paperwork, training, home study!!!
Long answer: Paperwork includes a 20-page application, a copy of every document you can imagine (tax returns, birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.), babysitter applications, daily schedules, etc.
There are 40 hours of training we will attend in-person or online to equip us for parenting children of trauma and assisting in the reunification process.
The home study is 6-8 hours of in-person interviews that ensures our agency knows our family, can make recommendations for how many kids/what ages and verifies our house meets the standards for placement (fire code, locking up all meds/controlled substances, etc.)
What's an agency?
An agency is an intermediary between us and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Essentially they represent our family (and others) when it comes to placing children in foster homes or for adoption. CK Family Services (our agency) is a Christian organization that will be by our side throughout the licensing process, placement and post-placement. We are so grateful for the resources and support they provide!
What "kind" of kids are you considering?
Pete and my hearts are truly for the least of these. Children who are 8+ years old, in sibling groups or a minority have increasing difficulty in finding placements or permanent families. Added to the mix is that foster families often do not want to disrupt the birth order of the bio kids which means younger kids are more likely to find homes. These factors often leads to sibling groups being split up or older kids being placed in group homes. Not to mention that 19,000 teens age out of the system every year.
That all being said, we are considering kids who are 8+ (including teens), teen moms, sibling groups and kids of both genders and all races. We will defer and listen to the wisdom of our support network and agency when making final decisions on placements.
When will this happen?
We hope to be eligible for placement by April-May 2018! We have begun the paperwork and have started training. We will complete the majority of our training in January and then continue to plug away on house projects and more paperwork to get ready for the home study.
Couldn't you just do private adoption?
Yup! But that's not what we feel called to. Given our unique life experiences (a mix of adoption, trauma, etc.) we believe that we can offer a safe, loving and nurturing home to kids experiencing the same.
What about having your own kids?
We're going to have a quick vocabulary lesson for this question. :)
First and foremost, any child that enters our home will be our "own." Regardless of whether I birthed them or they are with us temporarily or we adopt them...they will be "ours."
If you are wondering about biological children, the answer is: more to come! Our pursuit of foster care is not a "replacement" for biological children or due to any challenges with infertility. In fact, we both thought we were a few years away from trying to start a family! The Lord works in mysterious ways.
Here's what we do know: whoever the Lords brings us, in what way, for how long and at what time does not matter. We are not guaranteed biological kids. We are not guaranteed any children. But any child that we are given will be loved, cherished and deeply valued. And they will be ours.
This sounds hard - are you guys ready for this?
Thank you for your love and concern for us. We walk into this knowing full well it will be hard. It likely be harder than we can possibly imagine.
We believe we live in a world broken by sin. As Christians, our aim in life is not to numb out the brokenness, pursue happiness at all costs or take it easy. We believe that in due time, all will be restored to its original purpose and intent when our King returns, but in the meantime we are image-bearers of Him. We choose to love when we are rejected, we pursue when we are pushed away, we bear our cross in the face of hurt and pain.
Jesus is our peace and our prize. That means we can have joy in suffering and rest in the hard. We walk into the hard in faith of who He is.
How can we support you?
While we are just making this public, we have been absolutely floored by the outpouring of love and support we have received. Truly astonished and humbled! We are so grateful and walk into this with even more confidence knowing we have an incredible community by our side.
First, we absolutely covet your prayers. Y'all - this is HARD. While we do not have any kids yet, it's easy to be weighed down in the process. The facts are staggering, the reality daunting - hard, hard, hard. Pray for peace throughout the process, for unfathomable unity between Pete and me and for clarity when making decisions. Big, massive decisions seem like they are around every corner!
Anything after prayers is just a bonus. The reality is we have a lot of financial obstacles to tackle in the coming months. We need to redo closets to actually be functional, remodel the "kids" bathroom, bring our house up to code, lock things up...oh, and actually make the house ready for kids! Not to mention there is some cost associated with the licensing and/or adoption process as a whole. There's a few ways you can help.
1.) Good Book Coffee proceeds will all go towards our foster care journey! We hope to be able to offer subscription services in the very near future - stay tuned! In the meantime, you can shop his current selection.
2.) Amazon Wish List will be updated with things we need for our home and more kid-specific stuff as we get closer to knowing who will be joining our family! (eek!)
3.) Stay tuned. We have more fun fundraiser items to come!
Thank you for your love and support! We look forward to #buildingthebybels with you!
Devin & Pete