Sunday, May 21, 2017

Foster Care: Take One

If you've been reading my blogs for a long time, you know that I hate change.
I'm all about my daily routine. 
---OCD and what not---
In fact, as much as I love going on vacations, there is always a part of me that struggles not being in my own home, doing my regular routine.

But seven months ago, I made a decision that would impact us and bring about a lot of change. A lot. I called a foster agency and started my licensing process. Orientation, picking an agency, 30 hours of PS-MAPP classes, hours of interviews, two home studies, and one final interview in Phoenix.

And then ten days ago, our lives forever changed. 

I got a call at work about a little girl, older than the age I had requested to start with, that needed our home.
The situation was a little different and the caseworker said I could have a few hours to make a decision (usually you say yes or no as soon as they call). 

And so I said a prayer. 

Could I do this? Could I take on a toddler that walks and talks and could possibly have conflict with my children?

Yes. I absolutely could. 

With the peace that answer brought, I called the caseworker back only a few minutes later and asked her when she needed to drop her off.

And four hours later, we met our sweet Yaya.


That night, Andersen got the first smile in the baby aisle at Target but it didn't last long.
Since then, the smiles and the giggles have gotten bigger and better and more consistent.

The thing is, I'm not just here to talk about how strong and amazing Yaya is, although she is definitely those things.

I realized when I started my foster care classes that there were raised eyebrows and confusion.
And when Yaya was placed in our home, the raised eyebrows came back.

And I immediately felt this need to explain my decision but fought it because quite honestly, I don't owe anyone an explanation for my life choices.


But I've come to the conclusion that I want to explain anyway---maybe not for you but for me. Because someday when I look back on these posts, I wanted to remember all of this.


A few years ago, I was visiting teaching with a friend and we were talking about foster care and how many children were in need of homes. I listened intently as she told me some of her experiences working for DCS. And as she finished, I said something like, "Gosh, I wish I could help but I'm divorced and I don't think they'd let me foster as a single parent." 
It was during this conversation that I found out you can, in fact, be a single foster parent.

Go figure. 

I thought about it more and more before some personal things in my life took precedence.

So foster care went on the back burner. 

And that was the best thing for our family at that time.
But this past year, I felt prompted to look into foster care again.

Why? 

Because I am not---let me repeat that---NOT putting my goals on hold because I'm single.

I know it seems weird because being a single mom is not an easy thing. In fact, this is one of the hardest things I've ever done. But that doesn't mean I don't love my life.

I do. 

And it doesn't mean I am going to sit around and not continue living the life I want to live.


When we met Yaya, my "why" for foster care was cemented further.

I used to tell myself I could never be a foster parent. It seemed too hard.
The unexpected schedules, feeling like you have to be the perfect parent so you don't get in trouble, saying goodbye after falling in love with another child---nope. I couldn't do it.

But when I began this journey, I started to consider how I would've felt not having a safe home growing up. I started to wonder what my life had been like if I would've been in foster care. I thought about my own kids and how blessed they are to have two loving parents in their lives.

And I realized that even though this would be hard for me, it is even harder for foster children. Even though I may not want to say goodbye, they didn't want to say goodbye.

They didn't ask for this. 

And when I considered all of those factors, I knew this was something I wanted to do.

Sure, our schedule is out of whack right now. Sure, I sleep a little less and change messy diapers now. Sure, my house is messier than usual.

But I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing the exact things I am supposed to be doing.

Single mom, taking college classes online, and fostering another child---Bring. It. On.

I know how strong I am and what I am capable of. I know I was put on this Earth to be a mother and also to be a teacher and example. I know I was given this life because I could not only handle it but thrive in it.

God has my back and He has Yaya's back. He is on our side and I absolutely believe that the four of us will be so blessed for the time we get to spend being a family together.