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My Journey to Foster Care... #IAMFCAO

Tell us how foster care has impacted your life

To say that foster care has changed my family’s life is the understatement of the century.

I would describe our family as a typical all American family. My husband and I met in college, got married, had three kids, and moved to a small town. Our life was jammed packed and mainly revolved around church, football games, and friends.

Foster care was no where on our radar until my husband’s family had a crisis and we were approved for a kinship ICPC. In a crazy turn of events our kinship placements never came, and we felt called to opening our hearts and home to traditional foster care placements.

Little did I know back then how drastically my comfortable life would change and how my outlook would be transformed. Before foster care I saw behaviors and acting out completely differently. Now, I understand trauma, sadness, and a child’s need for any kind of control when their world has come crashing down. I’ve swept up many broken toys, cleaned smeared poop off walls, and held screaming babies who could not be soothed. Nothing could have truly prepared me for the many ugly ways that trauma can appear. I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff. Things that would have driven me bonkers before can now roll off my back. I can over look the fact that there’s crayon on a few bedroom walls here and there. I can laugh about the fact that the back seat of my old SUV looks like it had been mauled by a rabid pack of hyenas. Sometimes there’s dishes in my sink and laundry that needs folded, but there’s also kids that need held and babies that need rocked.

Before opening our home, I did not understand the complexity of biological family relationships. Now, however, I’ve dealt with tantrums and screaming and big emotions after family visits. I’ve supervised phone calls from children thrilled to talk to their parents they’ve missed so much. I’ve also cried silent tears while holding a devastated child who’s feeling rejected by a parent who missed yet another scheduled visit.

Now that my family is a foster family, my children have developed such empathy and understanding. Before, my children did not understand that all children did not come from the same background as them. Now my children understand caseworker visits, DHS policy, and never ending doctor appointments. They’ve awkwardly shared their toys and their parents with children that arrived strangers, and they’ve said goodbye to them after they felt like siblings.

Foster care has been the most gut wrenchingly sad yet breathtakingly beautiful experience of my life. While our family never could have known where this journey would take is, I’m so glad that we dove in.

How has FCAO played a role in your foster journey? FCAO has been extremely helpful to me as I navigated the foster care world. There are so many unknowns and so many ins-and-outs to fostering, and I often felt confused and frustrated. The plethora of knowledge that FCAO and the FCAO Facebook page provided to me was incredibly helpful.

How long have you been a part of FCAO?

Approximately 3 years I believe.

How important is community to you?

Community is extremely important to me. No one truly understands fostering unless they have been there and so having a community of like minded foster parents is essential.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a foster parent? Make sure to have support. I would encourage them to find another foster parent that they can vent to and ask questions. There are so many scenarios and situations that training doesn’t cover, so it’s so important to have someone that you feel comfortable talking to who understands the foster care world.

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all over again? Knowing what I know now, I would definitely do it again. It has been a wild roller coaster, however, I truly believe I’ve made a difference.

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