I’ve previously shared here that I dated someone with a child, that I’m a nurse, and that I’ve always wanted to be a mom. All of these things played a big role in my desire to be a foster parent. I guess I could give the cliché answer of “I loved kids so much that I just wanted to help them all” because that’s true, but my actual decision to foster took a lot more thought than that.
I worked with pediatric patients for the first five years of my nursing career, and before that as a nursing assistant. As a pediatric nurse you see a lot of neglect/abuse that results in children being placed into foster care. I caught myself always saying “I would take them home with me if I could”. I had two separate patient situations that really solidified my decision to foster since fostering or adopting had always been something I thought I would consider doing in my future.
I was assigned to a little girl being admitted for an infection, as I worked through all the admission questions on this patient, I came to learn that she was in fictive-kin placement with her aunt. Her aunt was older and expressed that this was supposed to be a temporary situation. I was off the next day, but when I returned to work the following day, I learned that the aunt had left for a doctor’s appointment of her own. Close to time for her to return to the hospital, she called and let the primary nurse know that she would not be coming back. She apologized numerous times but stated that she knew the baby was safe at the hospital. She shared that she had taken on much more than she could handle, and it had become obvious that this baby wasn’t returning to its parents soon. Our nursing staff took turns staying with the baby in her hospital room, while CPS worked to get her placed with a foster family. On her day of discharge, I was her nurse. I remember the foster mom coming to the floor, she was a young girl about my same age. She expressed that she was very excited to be receiving this placement but was also nervous because it was her & her husband’s first placement. I remember feeling so excited for them. I was sad to see the sweet little girl go and wished that I could’ve taken her home with me.
A few weeks later I was being cross trained on our post-partum floor. I was assigned to a mother/baby couplet with a pretty interesting story. This mom had several other children, all of whom were in foster care. She knew that once this baby was born it would most likely also go into foster care. In an effort to keep this from happening, she had been hiding from CPS for almost her entire pregnancy. We later found out that she had hospital hopped prior to ending up at our hospital (she was presenting to labor & delivery triage to be checked but would then leave AMA). The day I was assigned to her, CPS came to notify her that the baby would not be going home with her. She was discharged but the baby had to remain at the hospital until a placement could be secured. For safety the baby was moved to the NICU where she could be monitored 24/7 by the nurses. We also had hospital volunteers that took turns feeding/rocking/caring for her. My heart went out to this little baby. A baby who was perfectly healthy and beautiful. A baby who didn’t even have a name yet. I wanted to bring her home with me SO badly.
I suddenly realized that I could take them home with me. I just needed to become a foster parent. I started researching what the requirements are to be a foster parent, how long does the process take, how does the state support foster parents, could I be a foster parent if I wasn’t married (this was a pre-Blake decision), etc etc etc. I had a couple friends that are social workers, so I started discussing it with them, did they think I could do it? Overwhelmingly the answer was yes! I started to evaluate how fostering would fit into my life. Could I handle the emotional aspect? I told myself that I had survived previously being eliminated from a little boy’s life that I had become very attached to, and also that nursing had taught me to distance my emotions from people when I needed to. (I later learned that neither of these things really prepared me to be a foster parent, but at the time, I felt this was logical reasoning).
I remember letting myself sit with this notion for a while before I ever told a soul that I wanted to actually do it—become a foster parent. The more I had researched, read stories, and thought about it I knew I felt God pushing me. I remember feeling scared to tell anyone because I thought they would think I was crazy. I texted my mom one day and said, ‘have you ever felt like God was calling you to do something kind of crazy?’ As time went on, I slowly started sharing with friends and family that I had this on my heart. Ultimately, I decided that being a single woman living in a one-bedroom condo who worked 12-hour shifts, probably wasn’t the best scenario to bring a foster child into. However, I was determined that fostering would absolutely be in my future.
Then I met Blake, and I knew that this decision I had made was something that I needed to discuss with him because that’s obviously not a decision you make for someone else. I was nervous to bring it up, because I had no idea how he would react. I eventually got up the courage and we had a long discussion about why I wanted to foster, when I wanted to foster, what ages I thought I would want to care for, etc. Blake wasn’t 100% in right away, but he was very open to the idea. He originally did some of his own research and then talked to a co-worker about their experience as foster parents. It was after that conversation that he decided we definitely needed to try it.
We went into our decision to foster with an open mind and a lot of prayer, we knew we were going to try a placement and then could reevaluate if it wasn’t right for us for some reason that we didn’t anticipate. I will do a detailed post later about our process to become an open foster home and what the steps are.