My path to becoming a foster and adoptive parent began almost entirely out of selfish reasons. When we lost Lia I felt I needed a baby in my arms to be whole again. I knew nothing could ever replace her, but having another baby would help ease my pain, and I couldn’t wait 9 months plus however many months it would take to get pregnant again. The feeling of leaving the hospital without your baby is truly indescribable. Expecting a child in 6 months, only to wake up the next day “un-pregnant” after the traumatic delivery of a tiny, lifeless baby is a harrowing ordeal. I was desperate to feel like a mother again. I had a hole in my heart that could only be filled by a baby. And I couldn’t wait a year or more for that to happen.
As the months passed, my motives slowly transformed from mostly selfish, to about half selfish and half wanting to help others. When we began the licensing process I realized how difficult it was going to be. The amount of paperwork and training was going to take a lot more time and energy than I anticipated. I also learned that accepting a foster child into our home might be emotionally traumatic for us. We could fall in love with a child only to have her removed from our home. The point of foster care is reunification with the children’s biological family, so once the biological parents fix the situation that got their kids taken away, the county gives custody back to them.
There is also a very real possibility that we could get placed with a child who has suffered horrible trauma, was born addicted to drugs, and/or has a mental or physical handicap. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for me and Charlie to know our foster child had been abused, or to care for a child with special needs while we are both grieving from our own trauma. So at this stage in the process my motives were about half selfish and half selfless — I wanted to foster/adopt equally for my own benefit and to help a child in need. There were a lot of drawbacks I didn’t see at first, but picturing these children in need of loving homes really pulled at my heart strings.
Finally, as more months went by, I reached the point in the process where my motives were mostly selfless, which I think is only fair to children in the system whose needs outweigh my own. I finally came to realize that fostering is not about me or my need to complete my family. Fostering is about nothing more than the child you bring into your home. Fostering is about providing a family to a child who has no one. And I want to help so badly I feel it burning inside me.
I want to change a child’s life, whether he or she is with us for a week or for the rest of our lives. I want to show a child love who has only known neglect, abuse, instability, and/or lack. I am currently 20 weeks pregnant so my previous desperation for a child has dwindled, and even if I could snap my fingers and have all the biological children I wanted, I would still want to become a foster and adoptive mom. There is nothing more beautiful than opening your home to a child in need, and I cannot wait to be given that privilege.
Even though I believe foster children deserve parents who are in it for the right reasons, there is nothing wrong with getting as much out of fostering as you are giving. I’m just happy I got out of my grief bubble long enough to accept that our placement is for the child first and us second. There is no doubt we are going to receive priceless benefits from being foster/adoptive parents. The satisfaction of knowing we are helping a child, a family, and our community. The ability to love and be loved by a child without having to go through pregnancy with that child.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have cherished all my pregnancies and hope very much to have more of them, but pregnancy after loss is indescribably difficult. First of all, there is no guarantee my current pregnancy will end in a live birth. Second, I’m not sure how many more times I can go through the anxiety of pregnancy after loss, or how many more times I can lose a baby. And finally, I am less than a year away from being a geriatric mother. So if I can have the big family I’ve always dreamed of, while sparing myself and Charlie some of the anxiety of pregnancy and pain of pregnancy loss, then awesome.
Fostering and hopefully adopting a child (or children) from foster care will truly be a win-win for us and for the children in the system. And it’s all because of Baby Lia. She was the inspiration behind this whole journey. She has caused positive change without ever having been born. Her short three month existence is helping to change the world! She certainly changed our hearts and opened us up to something we would never have otherwise considered. I am beyond excited to see where this journey takes us!
Our paperwork and training is finally complete — we just need the official approval from the licensing board. We’ve delayed the process a bit because we do not plan to accept a placement until after our baby girl is here in four months. Having a brand new infant for the first time, as well as accepting our first foster placement, would just be too much. It wouldn’t be good for us or for either child. In my perfect world we would have one more biological child, one or two children from foster care that we adopt, and one spot open in our home for a temporary foster child (i.e. space available for children to come and go). In our county you can have up to 5 children in your home, including biological children.
I reserve the right to change my mind, as does Charlie, but having a big family is my dream. We have the financial means, we have the emotional capacity, and we have the desire. We both have so much love to give. I’ll be excited to read this post in 5 or 10 years to see what our family looks like and how my initial vision pans out. It will no doubt be a difficult road ahead, but we’ve proven to ourselves we can get through even the worst of times and come out stronger and full of even more love. To the future Forbes children, we can’t wait to meet you!