Raising a Blended Family


on September 18, 2013

Last year, when Shorty and I became licensed foster parents, we did so only because we had to in order to keep Baby Girl. It wasn’t something I had thought of before, which seems strange now, considering that looking back through my childhood, I actually wanted, for most of it, to be a social worker and work with children. I quickly realized, or thought I realized, as I grew into adulthood that the realities of constant heartbreak, impossible caseloads, and mandated return of children to untenable situations in the name of the law was something I couldn’t deal with on a daily basis, and turned away from social work as a career.

However, the desire to help and at least ATTEMPT to make some sort of difference in the lives of so many uprooted remained. I just wasn’t sure how to fulfill it and so I ignored it.

Then I met my wife, who had always wanted to be a foster mama.  Addie came into the picture and she got her wish, as we rushed to get licensed thinking only of the immediate need to keep Addie out of “the system” and safely with us, instead. We got L and Bubby later that year and the rest is history… until, of course, they were returned to their mother. An untenable situation, in the name of the law and “fulfilled parental requirements.” Bullshit on paper, in other words. Exactly what I was running from.

And yet, I learned so much in my first year as a foster parent. I met a lot of other foster mamas. I heard a lot of fosterbaby stories.  I learned that there are so many more foster children out there than people realize- and that a lot of times, what looks like an ordinary, biological family in a grocery store is actually a foster mama and a sibling group, or a foster mama and her own children plus fosterlings. I learned that the need for parents to step up and BE foster parents is huge, that the demand for safe and loving homes for abused and neglected children is sadly much higher than supply. Foster children are everywhere, walking around invisible, and because they aren’t wearing signs on their necks that say “I’m a foster child and this is what happened to make me have to be put in The System,” the public at large is free to generally ignore the problems these children face. The public at large doesn’t feel called to be foster parents.

But I do. Now, I do. After this past year, I couldn’t turn away and go back to how I was. I’m not the public-at-large anymore. Our original plan- “just put us down as relative-only foster care,” we said. “No unrelated children please. We’re just doing this for our niece”- is completely out the window. How could we not continue to help?

Shorty has felt this way all along. She was just waiting for me to catch up. And so, last night, we accepted our first placement post- L, Bubs, and Addie… we received a baby boy (two months old) and his sister (15 months), to love and care for until The System sees fit to remove them once again. That could be a few days, a month, or a year- there aren’t any guarantees, but we are excited that they are here and will make the most of our time with them, no matter how long or short.

We’re gonna do this. We’re gonna be real life, bona fide, foster mamas.


4 responses to “Foster

  1. Lindsay says:

    Wow! Chills for you! I am so excited and can’t wait to hear all about your experiences. Hope you manage to find some time to blog!

  2. meridith says:

    I love this about you all. I don’t know, if I had the option to foster with my wife, if we would. If I could love and let go like that. I like to think I could but I am so so so glad there are people like you who can and DO.

  3. Isa says:

    Whew! I’m excited for you! And also impressed that you’re taking on new kids while also TTC. Still, I can imagine that some new kids in your house will be a great addition!

  4. SotOhana says:

    You are an inspiration. I want to do this too, but worry that it would break my heart. Maybe someday I’ll try anyway because I know there is such a big need- especially for Native American foster parents for Native kids. My wife is Native, so it would be so great if we could foster a child and help them connect with their heritage.

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