Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Gathering the Tribe

So, as I mentioned before, knowing that I had a great support system was what allowed me to move towards this adventure with confidence. But even after I had essentially made the decision, I still had to let my tribe know about it.

The first person to know was a dear friend who has always let me be another parent to her kiddos. When I mentioned it to her, she was completely on board from the first moment. No holding back. No question that she thought I could do it.

The next two to learn were actually somewhat by accident, although they would have been next on my list anyway. But they brought it up before I had even made my final decision. It was shortly after a week where I'd cared for a two month old and they could tell how much I was relishing my time as psuedo parent. They were down right giddy about my decision, which only bolstered my confience.

Once it was out there, I needed to make sure the rest of my closest friends heard it from me first. So, I made a few more phone calls - all which were met with equal parts excitement, expectation and at least a few questions.

It was those questions that got me thinking about all the other people who I wanted to let know, but didn't warrant a formal phone call. So, I decided to write a mass email - an FAQ of sorts. I was nervous as heck to send it out. I wanted to let everyone know all my plans, how excited I was, and also set up some expectations/boundaries about any children I would have in my care. So, after running it by some trusted foster care/adoption tweeps, this is what was sent out to everyone not in my best friend tier.


Dear family and friends,
I want to start with saying that I wish I could see you all in person, or at the very least call you all individually, and tell you this exciting news. But I know that it is just not possible between all of our busy lives! But you are all so dear to me and I want you all to hear it directly from me – before it becomes “facebook official” or you hear it in some other way! You have all supported me so much during this past year, through what has certainly be the most scary and uncertain time in my life – it’s only fair that you get to be part of the exciting next steps I’m taking for the future! And now that I’ve finally gotten the “all clear” from my doctors, I fell reassured enough to move forward with plans that have been in motion for a little while now.

I’m in the process of becoming licensed as a foster parent. I hope to eventually be able to adopt a child that is not able to return home to their biological family. For many of you, this will come as no surprise. Given that I’ve worked in child welfare and always been passionate about foster care, it only seems a natural progression. And although this isn’t exactly the way I saw it playing out when I first began considering the possibility years ago, if this past year has taught me anything it’s that I really want to be a parent. I considered a number of ways to go about fulfilling that desire, but ultimately becoming a foster parent just seemed “right” for now.
So, I’m sure you have a lot of questions – I’m going to try to answer a few of the most common ones I’ve already gotten! My own little FAQ if you will. J

1.       I should be licensed sometime between now and New Years – depending on the State. No, I don’t get any special privilege from having worked in the field for 10 years! If anything, there are more rules to make sure my personal and professional lives don’t cross and become a conflict of interest!

2.     I’m being licensed for one or two children – though I have a preference for one at a time. The exception would be siblings – or if a sibling of a child already placed with me needs a new placement. I feel confident that I could handle two kids on my own – but would prefer they be placed one at a time to allow me some adjustment to parenthood!

3.     I’m being licensed with a preference for children under 6 years old – boys or girls.

4.     It will probably be a long time between a child being placed in my home and when I know if they will be reunited with their family or need an adoption plan. In my area, the court system moves slowly and most families are given approximately 18-24 months to correct the reasons that necessitated the children being removed.

5.     I firmly believe that children should be with their biological families if at all possible and will be advocating for any child in my home to be with their family, despite my desire to eventually adopt. It is my hope that I can develop a relationship my foster child’s biological family, so that contact can continue even if I eventually adopt that child. I know this is sometimes hard to understand, and you may have your own feelings about this. But I ask that you respect my beliefs and be mindful of how you talk about the families of any child in my care.

6.     Because of confidentiality, and out of respect for my foster child and their family, I probably won’t be able to tell you much about the reasons they can’t be with their parents. Please don’t hesitate to ask genuine questions, just be understanding if I say that I can’t answer!

7.     I hope, despite the uncertainty, that you all will embrace any child in my home the way I plan to! You are all part of my “family” and thus it’s very important to me that you all get to know and love my future foster kiddo(s)! Some of you will get to be very involved – since you live close and are part of my daily life. Some of you might not get to spend a lot of time with us – but you will no doubt have a place in their lives anyways! 

8.     The most important thing you can do for me and for any child in my home is to pray for everyone involved. That’s what we will all need the most – and your prayers have gotten me through so much already!
So, there is my big announcement! I hope that you are all as excited as I am! Please feel free to email or call or whatever if you want to know more. Or just keep a look out for the announcement that I have a new little person in my life! And once again – have I told you all recently that I love you and can’t imagine my life without each and every one of you? No? Well, it’s absolutely true. I thank God for you all daily!

XOXO

That message was sent via email to about 30 people - and then I held my breath until the replies started popping up. And once again I was reassured by the amount of positive feedback and excited wishes from all of my loved ones. This is not to say that there haven't been some tough questions and even a few people who just "don't get it". But of all my closest family and friends - they have been nothing but supportive. I'm blessed in so many ways - I can't wait to pass along all this support to a kiddo or two someday!

4 comments:

  1. I love your letter. Such a great way to explain boundaries and expectations clearly and with patience and kindness. I'm constantly telling people #5 & #6, and too often people don't really get it or think we're saying those things, but really hope to keep the kids which isn't how it works here.

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  2. I am so happy for you as you embark on this part of your journey!

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  3. That is the trickiest part for me too. So many people are excited that I may adopt in the future - but not so excited about the idea that some children may reunify.

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