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 clearly 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.
From the other room we heard our eldest son whisper, “I know this is scary. When I went to my first home I was scared too. But we are safe and we will feed you and we won’t hurt you at all. I’ll be your buddy.” For the next week, that little boy was never more than two feet away from our eldest son, he was his safe person through that difficult and confusing time.
If you're feeling a call to foster, my best advice is to connect with other foster families. Knowing others are going through the same journey allows you to normalize some of the more frustrating aspects of fostering, along with giving you that extra love and support that you might need. Surround yourself with people who love you and your quirky family, who will support you through all the struggles and celebrate in all the achievements. And believe me, the achievements will be many and the amount of joy and love will be heart stretching in the most wonderful ways.
Foster care isn’t as scary as it sounds, in fact, we would describe it as an honor! You meet these children and their parents on their worst day and acknowledge their tears and hurt. You sit in court hearings rooting for their parents and have the opportunity to teach these kids that they are surrounded by love. You help to fight off demons of the past and brighten their future. You experience some children’s ‘firsts’ and some children’s ‘lasts’. You experience grief, as a child returns home, alongside joy as you watch that family become whole again. As a foster parent, you commit to the child’s parents that you will keep their child safe and one day they will go home to them. We are honored to be in these spaces, places, and hearts.
Years later, here I am, Alexis, a passionate foster momma. International adoption had always been plan A for me, not foster care. When my husband, Todd, and I began dating he jumped right on board with that plan. We began looking into adopting internationally when we were 21 and 22. We were accepted into a program, but when my husband decided to return to school, we decided to put a hold on adopting.
“My CASA asks about ME. She wants to know how I am and what I need. She comes to see me and just lets me talk or not talk, she lets me do what I need to do and I like that.” - nine year old boy talking about his assigned CASA advocate
Lending my voice to these children has changed my life and I have watched it change the lives of volunteers and children.
“I didn’t know twin sisters could foster together!” We hear this statement often as we tell our story and, honestly, when we began to pursue foster care, we didn’t know if we would be allowed to foster together, either!
I'm Kelli Hoeckner and my sister Kimmee and I are identical twin sisters and we’ve been fostering together for almost one year! Oh, and did I mention we're 25 years old?
If you let it, foster care will stretch you in ways you never knew you could be stretched. It will open your eyes to a world full of injustice that you’ll never be able to unsee, but that you’ll wonder how you never saw it in the first place. It will change the way you think about people and it will teach you to love in the most amazing ways.
I believe in caring for the whole family, not just the child. This will look different for every foster family and maybe for every placement. It's important that we are asking how to support the whole family and that we are always listening.