Foster to Reunify
Read about one family taking in a young sibling set for two years only to have these children reunified with their biological family. Although extremely hard, this family knew it was for the best!
When my husband and I began our journey to become foster parents we had 2 young children at home (4 and 2 years old). We had talked about adopting and foster care off and on our entire relationship. As we began to fill out paperwork and go through training to become foster parents, I stumbled upon some blog posts about ethics in adoption, and I was immediately awakened to the reality of birth families and the need to protect their rights. I realized then and there that God wanted us to enter into our fostering journey not just to rescue kids from a bad situation, but to pray for restoration of a family.
We began telling our family and friends that we were not in this for hopes of adding to our family, but we believed that God's bigger picture was that a family would be transformed and put back together. Well, all of that was revealed before we had broken and hurting children in our home. In the late summer of 2013 we got our first placement, a terrified little 2.5 year old boy who did not speak at all. He pointed and cried, but no words came. But that was ok with us, both of my kids were extremely verbal and would happily talk for him.
A few months later we were called and told that our little guy had just become a big brother, and were asked if we would be willing to take the baby. Now this was not in the plan, in fact I had expressly told our agency that I didn't want infants. I valued sleep too much and was finished with that part of motherhood for good. BUT this was our little man's brother and we knew we had been asked to pray for a whole family, not just one child, so we began to pray, and quickly felt the Lord leading us to bring this baby into our home. We received some backlash from family when we made this choice, and were told that we were risking too much and our kids would suffer. But we knew this was what we were supposed to do. When I was handed this sweet little one my heart instantly fell for him. I knew I was never going to be the same, and that I would do anything for this little guy.
Well, as the months went on, we realized just how in over our heads we were. We were parenting 4 kids under 5, and felt overwhelmed with the many challenges of parenting several small children entailed. Our first little man was now displaying some very aggressive behaviors and multiple melt downs a day that would
last an hour or more each. He had begun using just a couple words, butfrustration over miscommunications began to build. We got help from a counselor first and then from a speech therapist. We began learning how to parent a child who came from trauma and began having success in helping him regulate his emotions and communicate his needs.
Also, we were going to court every few months only to watch the boys’ parents make more bad choices and sabotage themselves even further. We were told on two different occasions that these parents were most likely going to lose their parental rights. I constantly rode the rollercoaster of emotions wanting to protect these boys, but remembering what the Lord had called us into. After about 15 months we saw a miracle and things began to turn around. A few months later we were told they would begin looking to reunify the boys with their bio family. This was a bit of a drawn-out process because the boys’ attachment was to us, and not really to them.
But at almost exactly the 2 year mark, a van pulled up in front of our home to take the boys. This day hit us all like a ton of bricks. I was so happy for the boys’ mother to get a chance to parent the boys that I knew she loved, but they had been a part of our family for so long and we were all hurting. My oldest son was especially raw as he was losing his best friend and brother. Even though we had talked all along that we hoped for them to get to be with their first family, our kids just couldn't imagine that this was for the best. My husband and I grieved heavily, but in very different ways which caused quite a bit of friction in the months that followed.
BUT as we let God speak to us, we began to really see what an amazing story of God's faithfulness we had been a part of. He had asked us to pray, and had given us a promise of restoration.
We have been able to keep a close and open relationship with the boys and their family in the last year, and have seen them settle into their home and family miraculously well. That is not to say there hasn't been struggles or doubts, but God continues to show himself faithful, and has walked with our family as we have grieved and learned to keep our love up even when it hurts.
Photos by: Viktor Jakovlev, Jenn Richardson and Alona Kraft