Greg and I have finally decided what to do about future placements. We purposely avoided the subject once things started looking like we were going to lose Midge. We finally had the conversation seven and a half weeks after we lost her, a little over three months after we knew she was leaving, and a little more than four or five months after we knew it was a distinct possibility. In all that time, we hadn’t discussed what we would do if/when we lost her. We knew that too many emotions would cloud our judgment, so we decided to wait a while in our grief before moving forward.
About a month ago we went to a seminar through the Finally Home Foundation, a non-profit that supports foster and adoptive families. Mostly we went because it was free, including food and a “Super Hero Academy” for the kids, and it counts toward recertification hours with our foster family agency. It was a bonus when we saw our good friends who fostered our little ones after they left us. They have two sibling sets right now, one set of two and one set of three. We’ve had playdates and overnights with the oldest of the three siblings, because he’s the same age as Jake. But Greg had never met the middle of those three…the most adorable four year old girl with such a sweet demeanor. Greg fell in love that day! After the seminar, we took the four year old and nine year old out to ride the ferry from Balboa Island to Newport peninsula, and we ate dinner out before dropping them back at home. It was such a fun night and it sparked our first brief conversation about future placements.
The options for us are so wide open…straight foster care? fost/adopt of one baby or child(second attempt)? fost/adopt of a sibling pair or group? private adoptions? international adoptions? fostering a teenager (with tight screening to find a good match for a home with two small kids)? We had to pray about what parts of the process we were willing to go through and what placements we were willing to accept.
My first thought months ago, when it looked like we would lose Midge, was that I just couldn’t go through the whole fostering process from start to finish again. Too much emotional turmoil, too much uncertainty, too many unknowns for my kids. I thought maybe there might be kids who are with straight fostering parents who aren’t planning to adopt them. Are there kids out there whose parents are already out of the picture? Knowing that finding a single child in that circumstance would probably be impossible, and that three or more kids in a sibling group would be out of the question for Greg, I thought maybe we could find a sibling pair who was almost free for adoption. If we were open to any race and gender, which I am, could we be matched with a sibling pair without the kind of serious behavioral issues that would put our own kids in danger? I pictured us with two more kiddos, a little younger than Tyler.
But that was many months ago, and Greg was dropping hints here and there that he was not interested in any further adoptions or foster placements. Of course, he was grieving Midge’s loss just as I was, even before it happened. But I just didn’t feel like God was done with me and my big empty house yet. We continued to pray separately. We knew that we would need to begin thinking about it soon, though.
After our one day seminar and our outing with our friends’ foster kiddos (who are not available for adoption right now…in case you were wondering), we decided to take another few weeks of serious prayer and then discuss our options. Our church was fasting from one meal a day last week in prayer for our county, and I added our future placements to the prayer list in my mind. On Wednesday I told my bible study group to pray for us. I told them, “It’s not like we have an idea about what we want to do and we’re praying to confirm that it’s what God wants. We are both totally up in the air about our options. There are just so many different possibilities and we have no idea at all what to do.”
When I thought Greg wouldn’t go for more than one child, I began toying with the idea of taking in a foster teen. Young enough to give some real guidance before they became independent, but old enough to give a big enough age gap between him/her and our own kids. Greg and I are both touched by the plight of the kids who enter foster care in their teen years…there is little hope of adoption and often no support for them when they age out of foster care.
On Thursday, the day after I asked my bible study to pray, while we were still fasting with our church, I picked up the phone. I don’t know why. We don’t generally discuss important things over the phone, but I just really felt like I needed to talk to Greg about the possibility of fostering and/or adopting a teenager before I let my mind wander too far into the future.
He was surprised. He asked if I had stopped considering younger kids. I told him that I was considering the possibility of a teenager, and then if things were moving smoothly after a few years, we could look into adopting a child or two younger than our kids would be at the time. He said, “It seems to me like you’d want to do it the other way around. Adopt younger kids and if things were smooth a few years down the road, then look into teenagers.” I didn’t really know what to say. I told him that I didn’t think he wanted younger kids, and that I didn’t think we would be matched with a single child younger than Tyler. That if we wanted young kids, we really ought to expect to take at least two. “Well if you’re saying that,” Greg answered, “then I’m open.” I actually had to ask him to repeat himself to make sure I heard him right. Yes. Two kids, maximum, he said.
I hadn’t called him to have our “big” discussion. But there it was. He tells me that it has nothing to do with him and all to do with God. He really was done with fostering and adoption, but he just kept feeling God tugging on his heart. One thing after another confirmed what he didn’t want to accept. The seminar we’d attended and our time with the other foster kiddos. The visiting pastor who spoke at our church the week before whose sermon had nothing to do with adoption, but who brought up adoptive families and future adoptive families in his prayer and closing remarks. The foster/adoptive support group that he attended with me at the last minute that same Sunday, where the other parents were actually crying and grieving with us over our loss of Midge, and where they’d all opened their homes to little ones in one way or another. It was confirming to him what he already knew and was fighting against. God wants us to move forward with another placement. A sibling pair close to or at termination of parents’ rights, under the age of seven, of any race and gender, considering kids up to age eight if we find it to be a good match.
I know this is making a short story long. But I want to remember this progression and God’s faithfulness to provide us with clear direction. And so quickly! We prayed for almost a year and a half about whether or not we should adopt our first two ESH home boys and their big sister. And it just never set right with Greg. I knew I couldn’t move forward on just my own convictions, so we let those three go. This time we feel certain with our direction within days! (Well, if you don’t count the months of thought and prayer when we weren’t discussing it!)
We met with our agency this week and are officially waiting for a match now. They told us it will probably be a long wait, as most of the kids on their database right now are sibling sets of 5 or 6 kids. So I’m trying to settle in to the life as a mom of two school aged kids for now. But I will be thrilled (and terrified!) when that matching phone call comes someday!