I wanted to give you an update on our Foster Care Journey here in Florida. I know I mentioned it before, but the process is a bit different here from Wisconsin. It took Dan and I almost 6 months to become a licensed foster care home in Wisconsin and to say I was disappointed that we never received a child would be an understatement. We got 2 calls, but neither of the kids ended up getting placed in our home. Fast forward to now. Now we live in Florida. We had to close our license for Wisconsin and I was more confused than ever.
We began looking into the Florida foster care system as soon as we knew we were making the move. It has been quite the whirlwind, but we are 3 classes away from gaining our Florida Foster Care License. It has taken us less than one month to go through the process, fill out all the paperwork, complete our home study, and “pass” the home visit. We thought we were going to have our license by now, but we have to attend a few Saturday classes over the next few weeks to make us official. Yesterday we attended our first class.
The two women that are leading the class have both been in the social work field for quite some time. They have experience and have both fostered and adopted children of their own. In my head, I know I have had a vision of what the “perfect placement” would look like. A new born baby that I can snuggle and hold and help grow into a healthy human being. In reality, that type of placement will never happen. These ladies started to read to us real life situations where children have been removed from their families. At first I thought they were trying to scare us out of doing foster care. I mean, some of the stuff they were trying to prepare us for was real bad. The thought may have crossed my mind, multiple times, to run out the door as fast as we could and go back home to our semi-“normal” life. Our biological children weren’t born with drug addictions. They haven’t been neglected or abused. They haven’t fallen in between two beds and forgotten about for days at a time. They haven’t had to eat their own feces because they have been so hungry. The stuff we heard that was actually happening in our county was truly unbelievable.
So there we sat. We had two choices. #1. Bail. Admit that this whole foster care thing just isn’t for us or #2. Stay. We chose to stay. I am not going to lie, I am scared beyond belief. I know we can try to be prepared as much as possible, but in reality, we have no clue what is about to hit us. How will this impact our bio kids? Are we equipped to handle a child with trauma? How will we handle a child that doesn’t listen or causes harm to themselves? As we sat there and listened to the social workers, my heart ached more for these kids than ever before. Just because life might get a little messy or hard doesn’t mean these kids don’t deserve a chance. We might have to give up everything “normal” we know to open up our home to a child and show unconditional love to a child that may have never experienced the feeling of love before. Take that in. Some of these kids have NO idea what it feels like to be loved. That is something I just cannot run away from.
Yes, we have our own kids to care for. Yes, things are tough and hard. Yes, we live in a new state with little support. However, all those “yeses” don’t stop there. Yes, we have a van that can fit more kids. Yes, we have a house with a little bit of room for a crib or a bed. Yes, we have a heart that is ready and willing to love. Yes, we have a God that is bigger than any problem we can come up with in our minds. Yes. Yes. Yes.
We now have a crib set up next to our bed. The master bedroom that I was so “proud” to finally have, will soon be shared with a child. We got rid of all our baby stuff. We simply have a crib. (and a crib mattress from a friend soon). All those things I can remember “needing” when we were having a baby, we don’t have. All those items I just had to have and put on my baby registry, we no longer own. Those things have all come and gone. We have nothing left, but yet we have everything we need. We will have to run to get what we need when we get a call. Life looks a lot different now that we have raised 7 kids. Our wants and needs are different. The uninterrupted nights will be a thing of the past for a while. Every logical cell in my brain tells me to bail and take the crib back. I have done this 7 times already and it was exhausting. However, every piece of my heart says to stay.
The foster care system here is overwhelmed with kids. There is only a 45% re-unification percentage for kids going back and successfully living with their birth parents. (and that percentage is very generous). There are SO many babies born each day addicted to drugs and alcohol. These babies are sitting in the hospital detoxing on their own, with no one to come hold them and love them. Kids aren’t learning to walk or talk because they have been so neglected. I know we can’t save them all, but we can step out in faith and walk this path with God leading the way. I don’t know what God has in store for us in this foster care journey, but I will do my best to lean on Him and share the good and the bad with you!
And…I can’t post a blog without a few pics! We are still really lonely down here. School starts in 3 weeks. We WILL make friends. However, until then…we have resorted to creating our own friends for now! The kids have stuffed pajamas with stuffed animals and they are keeping them company!
The kids will ALL be attending the SAME school here. That is right. ONE SCHOOL BABY! It’s a K-12th grade school and even better…they have to wear uniforms! This has made school shopping extremely easy! While this is something we all have to get used to, I am secretly beaming on the inside. Besides looking adorable in a polo and a khaki skirt, there will be no wardrobe fights in my near future! With 3 (almost 4) teenage daughters, this is a HUGE WIN!!!
I have so much more to share. More to come soon! Please pray for us if you think about it and our foster care journey ahead!