Self Preservation is Not a Virtue
“You know, we could totally be foster parents. We’ve got rooms in our house not being used. We’ve got love to give. We’re stable.”
I’m Sara, and together with my husband, Clay, I am a proud foster advocate.
Foster care, in our opinion, is the most worthwhile way you could ever choose to spend your time and resources. Every ounce of self-sacrifice, that is absolutely required, is 100 percent worth it and paid back to you ten-fold. We have experienced the gospel in a way that is far richer than anything else we’ve been able to experience thus far in life, besides our marriage.
My interest in foster care started because of my job as a NICU nurse. My patients came from all over our state, and they were the sick of the sick. We would frequently see patients go home with foster parents while, their birth parents were trying to get back on their feet and create a safe home environment for their children. I mentioned to Clay several times over the last 5 years that we could be foster parents, and he agreed, but we never felt the timing was right. After a year of infertility, I felt like I heard the Lord tell me one morning that He had closed my womb so we could open up our home. Clay wasn’t as sure as I was, and was hesitant to agree. Over Christmas in 2016 we were driving to see family, and listened to The Archibald Project’s podcast interview with the Brawners. When BJ said, “Self preservation is not a virtue” it really hit home with Clay. Through that interview and the rest of the drive, which was only about an hour and a half long, his heart toward foster care completely changed. That weekend we decided emphatically together that we would begin taking classes to become certified starting in January.
One of my coworkers, Monica, became the foster parent for one of our little patients at work in May 2016, due to her G-tube it was hard for DHR to find foster families willing to take on medical challenges. A few weeks after Monica took her home their birth mom gave birth to her brother. I mentioned to Monica if they did not feel led to keep the babies that we would! We had always been interested in foster care/adoption, but weren’t sure when the Lord wanted us to take that step. That was it, we never really crossed paths again.
Fast forward to March of 2017, we were half-way through our foster care training and had just had our first home study and interview with our social worker. We were mentally and emotionally exhausted after spilling our entire life stories to a complete stranger, so we headed out to get some Mexican food. Sitting there in our booth reflecting on the life change we were about to embark on, Clay told me about a vision the Lord had given him. One where we are at our church dedicating two children and Clay is crying. As he is telling me all of this I begin to weep, because I have had the same vision. We took it as a gift from God. A few weeks later Monica contacted me out of the blue. She said that DHR was pursuing a permanent home for their two foster babies, since the termination of their birth parent’s rights seemed impending. She asked if we would still be interested. We said , “absolutely!” We spent the next few months transitioning the kids into our home through visits with them of different lengths. First we babysat them, then they stayed overnight, then for a weekend and finally, once we were licensed, they moved in with us. Clay also quit his job the same week and started a new company, which provided for so much time at home and proved to be extremely vital in building strong bonds with the kids. To say that they’ve completely changed our lives is an understatement and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Don’t be afraid to get attached. This is likely the most common thing we hear in response when we tell people that we are foster parents. “ Oh, I could just never do that… I’d get way too attached.” I always say back to them, “well then you sound like you’d be a great foster parent!” These kids need attachment almost as bad as they need food and water. Does it make it harder? Yes. Will it rip your heart out when they have to leave? Without a doubt. But I promise that they are worth it. Going back to what BJ Brawner quoted or said in their interview, “self-preservation is not a virtue.” In our opinion, the only way to be who these kids need is to pour yourself out completely for their sake. If you don’t feel called to full time foster care, don’t just stop and move on to the next thing. There are numerous ways you can still help care for these kids and their families through respite care, babysitting, transportation, meals, etc…
And don’t do it alone! No one does foster care alone, or shouldn’t do it alone. Before we started, I think my mindset was that we just had to do everything ourselves and every situation I imagined, I was all alone with no one to help and that just wasn’t the case. We were surrounded by community before we got into foster care, but they all certainly pressed in harder and supported us through it so much so that I am sure that we couldn’t have done it without them.