We decided to start a series here on Foster Care. When we first became foster parents I tried to find stories of others who had gone before us and found the pickings were slim. It seemed not many people were sharing their experiences, and boy I sure could have learned a lot from they had to say! I know that fostering looks different for every family, in every state, but this is our story, our experience, and if it helps even one person along the fostering path than I think it's worth spilling my guts. :)
Think back to spring break of 1993. What were you doing? I can tell you exactly what I was doing. I was in Chihuahua. Mexico on my very first missions trip. I was the youngest of the group, but just made the age deadline and there was no way I was going to miss that trip. I honestly don't remember much about that that time, except the enormous amount of Noxzema I had to apply to my face to get all that mime make-up off my face. (Oh Teen Mania!) I may not remember much in the way of specific encounters and experiences, but I do remember that it changed the course of my life. I saw the world was bigger than my small town, and my worries over entering high school were nothing compared to the trials others around the world were surviving through every day.
After that trip I was hooked. I proceeded to go on missions every single summer through high school and then through college. One thing you see a lot of when you do any kind of short-term missions, is orphans. My heart broke for them. I had forever dreamed of being a mommy anyway, so the plight of the orphan has always hit me right in the center of my gut. I decided straight out of high school that I knew exactly what I was to do with my life. I was to become a nurse so I could care for orphans. BAM. There you have it! The goal was set, application was accepted for nursing school, and I was off to the races!
Fast forward a few years and I'm back in my home town working at the local hospital as an RN and married to the fabulous, amazing, unbeatable Jed. Okay, I know it's Valentines Day and I may be gushing a bit, but seriously. Jed is THE BEST. If you haven't met him you'll just have to take my word for it, and if you do know him I dare you to argue with me. :)
|Jed and Havalah. One of Jed's infamous self-portraits :)|
Anyway, it's 2004, Jed and I have been married for a bit and we both know our desire is to live overseas. We both have a heart for orphans and we are just eagerly awaiting our chance to get the heck outta' dodge. We wait....
We have two squeezable kiddos of our own and pray. We look for the opportunity, we pray for God's will and no matter what we do we always get the same answer. "Stay put".
"Huh?? What was that God? I'm pretty sure we didn't hear you right because we really want to love on some orphans and we know you feel pretty strongly about them...so what's the holdup??"
Nope. That's a negative. He definitely wanted us to stay put. So sadly, we put our dreams about orphan care on the shelf until later. Then I happened to have a chat with a friend at a party and I moaned and groaned to her about our hearts, and being stuck in the US. She then piped up with the words that forever changed our lives.
"You know, foster kids are America's orphans. Have you ever thought of fostering?"
What the??? Why no, we had not even considered that! I mean no one else we knew fostered, it just didn't occur to us. Here was one of our answer as to why God had us remain here in the States. Not so we would just hang our dreams up on a shelf- no, the fulfillment of those dreams was just going to look a lot different than we had imagined.
We were about to embark on one of the most difficult and wonderful journeys of our lives; one that we are still on today, and one that I don't regret for a single second.
We contacted the State immediately, attended trainings, filled out massive amounts of paperwork, locked up any medications, picked up some fire extinguishers, installed smoke detectors, passed our home study- and lo and behold- we were foster parents!! The process was long, but not excruciating. Ezra, our second, was only 18 months old and we had told our certifier we weren't going to take any babies until he turned 2, so we figured we had some time to get things ready for whoever our "new arrival" would be.
We should have known not to get too comfy, because 2 weeks later I got a phone call from the state. "We have a baby who was just born and is in the NICU. We feel we definitely need a home with a nurse. Are you really wanting to wait, or do you think you could take one a little early?"
Deep breath. Oh boy. Are we really doing this? Heck yes we are!
Let the games begin!!
To be continued....
P.S. We plan to cover several different topics concerning foster care in the next couple of weeks, so if there is something in particular you are wondering about please feel free to leave a question in the comments or you can email us at johnson commune @ gmail dot com (no spaces).