Early in our dating relationship, my husband and I discussed adoption as something God had placed on our hearts. We were 17. It felt forever away. When we were married at nearly 23, we continued to talk about adoption…in the future. Our plan – by the way, if you’re interested in foster care/adoption, throw your plans out the window and into the street, then run them over with your car – was to enjoy married life, travel, become financially stable (what does that even mean?), have biological children, then adopt. Foster care wasn’t on our radar. Letting ourselves get attached to a child that will likely leave? No thanks. So how did I end up as Mama to three beautiful [foster] children with a year of parenting under my belt at age 26? I could write a novel, but below you’ll find my attempt to condense it into five reasons.
5 Reasons Why We Became Foster Parents:
1. We Felt Called
Adoption was the plan. Then, out of nowhere, we began to feel God shift our hearts. He brought Foster Care to our attention through strangers in restaurants, passages in the Bible, social media, friends working for non-profits, friends beginning the process themselves…it was everywhere. I’ll never forget the night we became homeowners. My husband said, “We have two empty rooms and children are sleeping in shelters tonight.” That’s when we couldn’t put it off any longer.
2. Oklahoma Has a Foster Care Crisis
At the end of October, 10,866 children were in OKDHS custody. They come into care through no fault of their own – the most common reasons being abuse and/or neglect. Children who go through the trauma of being exposed to the unthinkable need safe, loving homes with families willing to invest in them as they grow emotionally, socially, cognitively, and physically. This gives them the opportunity to develop healthy attachments in order to be more successful adults. Governor Fallin recently launched the “Oklahoma Fosters” initiative with its foremost goal being to recruit 1,000 new foster families by June 2016. Will yours be one of them?
3. If Not Us, Then Who?
Often, when I read a heartbreaking story I think, “Oh, that’s sad. I hope somebody does something.” If everyone takes this approach, then WHO will do something? We have to take action. My family tries to live life according to God’s Word. (Keyword: TRIES. Thank God for grace!) We truly believe EVERYONE is called to care for orphans in their distress (James 1:27). For some that means being foster families, for others it looks different. There are many ways to support Oklahoma’s foster children. Would you begin to consider your role?
4. Foster Care Isn’t About Us
Foster Care is difficult. It’s not always fun. It’s inconvenient. It’s weird. It stretches you in ways you didn’t know you stretched. But foster care isn’t about us. It’s about the children who didn’t ask for any of this. Our first child lived with us for 280 days. I was her Mama. He was her Dada. There was so much love, but there were also visits with biological parents, case workers coming and going, paperwork, court appearances, appointments, etc. And after all that, when she went home, FOSTER CARE HURT. But would we do it all over again? A MILLION TIMES YES, just to know her. I would much rather foster care hurt me in an attempt to protect children from that hurt.
5. We Don’t Have A Lot, But We Have Enough – and you do, too
Our family has a modest income. We don’t have a big home. We don’t have the experience that comes with biological children. The list goes on. What we DO have is the willingness to share our home and love to give, and that’s been enough. God has been faithful to piece everything else together. The graphic below has been shared all over (source unknown). It’s a list created by an Oklahoma Foster child entitled, “Things I Want in My Family”. Do you meet the requirements?
Dena was born and raised in the Metro and is proud to be an Oklahoman. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Science from Oklahoma State University. Dena has been in love with her high school sweetheart, Daniel, eight years and married three. After two years of marriage, God stirred their hearts to become foster parents. Since their first placement in November of 2014, Dena has been Mama to 3 beautiful children through the blessing of Foster Care. She works full-time outside of the home but nothing gives her more joy than her husband, children, and puppies.