I can’t even describe how happy it makes me when I am in public and someone asks for an update on my foster children. As if the excitement in my voice as I respond to them isn’t indication enough of how much these children mean to me, I’m sure that the proceeding stories, photos, and smiles tell it all. To say that these children have changed my life is an understatement; they are my life.
In case you were wondering what my current situation is with my kids, here is a rundown:
Sweet Pea – My first full-time foster child that I had for almost a year before she was reunited with her mom in May.
She is happy, healthy, and vivacious! Her family and I spend a lot of time together. Some of our recent activities include: having her 6th birthday party at my house, spending Thanksgiving together, watching the Christmas Parade, and attending church with each other every Sunday. Sweet Pea even joined my dad and I at a father/daughter ball last weekend!
I could not be more thrilled with the outcome of this placement. Some people question how I could handle “losing” Sweet Pea when she went home, but I didn’t lose her at all. I am so fortunate that her mom has graciously accepted me into her family and has allowed me to continue my involvement in their lives. Although we met in a very unconventional way, she has become my best friend.
The Troublesome Teen – The 17-year-old I had at the end of summer just before she turned 18 and aged out of foster care.
This beauty is an absolute gem. Although she caused me plenty of grief while she was in my care, I am so thankful to have had her in my home. I was devastated when she chose to sign out of foster care at 18 (she could’ve stayed in until the age of 21) because I was concerned for her safety. Having been in foster care nearly her entire life, she lacks some life skills that are necessary for independent living. But despite the difficulties she has faced being on her on, this girl knows all about perseverance. She may not be living the life that I had hoped for her and that I know she is capable of, but she is learning valuable life lessons while experiencing the freedom that foster care prohibited her from having.
Our relationship has its ups and downs (as any relationship with a teen does), but one thing is always true: we are family. She knows that no matter what the situation, I will be by her side offering support, encouragement, and love. When she messages me to see how my day is going or when she surprises me with a visit at my work (all the while referring to me as “Sis”), I can feel how much she cares. She has never been able to depend on anyone in her life. It is my honor to finally offer her the unconditionally love that she is so deserving of.
The Pregnant Teen – The 17-year-old I was placed with who was 7 months pregnant.
I am always astounded by the amount of personality that comes out of the children in my care – and this chick is no exception! I could listen to her tell stories for days. At a dinner with my family one night, she recounted some incidents in her past that had gotten her into some trouble. Although the things that she did were certainly not a laughing matter, this seemingly innocent and sweet young girl had my family in stitches as she vividly described events that you would expect to see on an episode of Cops.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this polite and respectful teen, but had to say “goodbye” when she went home just before Thanksgiving. Fortunately, we have kept in touch and I even picked her up for a visit last weekend! We are hoping to have another visit around Christmas, but with a due date quickly approaching, we might wait until after her bundle of joy arrives. I am so excited to meet her baby when he is born, and I am so thankful for her presence in my life.
My Little Guy – The 4-year-old with autism that was placed with me in June.
I’m down to one child! I love having a full house with multiple children, but I do appreciate the time I get to have one-on-one with this little man. There was a learning curve in the beginning of our relationship as I developed an understanding of his nonverbal cues, scheduling needs, and triggers, but we seem to have worked out the kinks. His affectionate nature and contagious smile make it hard not to fall in love with him. This little guy certainly holds a very special place in my heart.
In fact, although my goal as a foster parent is for reunification with the biological parents, I am an adoptive resource for him. This means that if his biological mom is not able to fulfill the requirements necessary to be entrusted with him again, I will have the opportunity to adopt. Without an ounce of hesitation, I can say that it would mean the world to me to have him in my life forever. But that choice is not mine. I trust that God has an ultimate plan for us and no matter what way it turns out, I’m sure it will be better than I ever could have expected.
It seems so nice to be able to share some photos of my beautiful family now that most of them are no longer in foster care!
This month, I am two years into my journey as a foster parent. As I reflect on the amount of laughs, tears, and obstacles I have experienced, I realize that there is not a thing that I would change. My passion for foster parenting is truly where I find my solace and happiness.
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.