Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Developing a Heart for Fostering

I didn't grow up wanting to be a foster parent. I grew up wanting to be a mother, a great one, just like mine. This is a desire that has only grown greater with time.

I was one of those newlyweds…on birth control (faithfully, John, I promise!), but kind-of, sort-of, sometimes secretly hoping for an accidental pregnancy.  I hated taking the pills even though I knew it was wiser to wait. I mean really hated them, 'despised' might be a better word. 

My friends talk about all the things they want to do before they have kids, I just want to do all the things you do when you have kids. Call me crazy, but it just sounds like fun to me.

I remember talking with John early in our dating years about our future kids, coming up with names, the silly, love-struck college students we were. I think we talked about possibly adopting at some point, it’s definitely been on the radar for both us since our college years.

As time went on, it became clear that John’s desire for children was very much a far-into-the-future thing, and he began to strongly favor adoption over having biological children.  He had all kinds of good reasons that sounded very Kingdom-of-God-esque. I figured it would wear off eventually; he’d grow out of it after a few years. It didn’t happen quite like that.

Our first two years of marriage we lived in Kansas City. I was in seminary and we chose to buy a home and move into the seminary neighborhood, a lower-income area of town where we were by far the racial minority (at least we fit in as far as income was concerned!). Oh, those wonderful days on E 65th Street.

Side Note (just for fun): We had a shooting on our street while we lived there. Sad of course, but no reason to freak out, it was drug related. Just don’t try to get an IOU for drugs, or steal things, or beat up or shoot anyone else and you’ll do just fine in the ghetto, no worries.

A few months into our marriage, we met some neighbors, two teenage boys. We invited them over for dinner one night, and then the next night, and after that we kind of became their second home. 

We did homework together, played games, cooked and cleaned up lots of dinners, went out for ice cream, went to a couple Royals games, and had all kinds of adventures (including the time they "borrowed" our car and wrecked it). They met many of our family members and friends and became affectionately referred to by all as "the boys". 

They loved our dogs, and I think they grew to love us as well. We certainly grew to love them. 

That experience, the love and space that just naturally opened up in our hearts and in our home for those boys, made us think much more seriously about fostering or adopting someday. There was something about it that just seemed right. It fit who we were and who we were becoming.

A year or so after we moved from Kansas City to Denton, TX, I was really getting anxious to begin the parenting process. At this point we were pretty sure we would foster and/or adopt at some point in our lives, but we weren’t sure if we should try to have our own first or start with fostering. We went to an informational meeting about foster care. 

They told us if we wanted to have our own we should try that first. So we did.

John, of course, was still not so keen on the idea of having a baby, but he was willing to try because he loves me…and he figured once they were five or so it would be okay.

It’s strange to think how willing I was, way back then, to start with fostering. It was going to be quite the journey to get back to that place once the “trying” began.

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