“Why foster? When you foster, you have to say goodbye, right? Families are ripped apart, correct? Foster children are difficult, and I just can’t do this to my family! Isn’t it an emotional roller coaster? How do you prepare your heart to take children in, only to see them go back into a questionable home situation?”
I’m glad you asked!
Actually, we were dead set against it!
By the way, there is no such thing as foster to adopt. The minute you step foot in the door, the county or foster agency will tell you that the goal is reunification with the biological family. Why did we choose to foster, then? Let me back up about five years so I can explain!
In 2016, I was diagnosed with ovarian failure. Basically, my body had gone through menopause at an early age, and there was a very, very slim possibility that we could conceive through medical treatments. We went through two rounds of IUI treatments and spent roughly $6K doing so. These treatments are not covered by health insurance. Every other day, I drove an hour to Cincinnati to report to the doctor’s office by 7 AM to undergo testing, ultrasounds, treatments, etc. Both failed. We were told that if we continued for 7-8 months of this treatment, our chances to conceive would increase. But we had run out of money, and we had to stop.
In 2017, we decided that adoption was our next goal. We were over the moon to get started. We signed up with Christian Adoption Consultants to get the ball rolling. It was very expensive, but we loved our consultant. She was so wonderful. I applied for approximately 50 grants. We did several fundraisers that were a huge success. We created a family profile book to show to expectants moms all over the country. Life was exciting.
Over the course of the next two years, we submitted our profile and a personal handwritten letter to fifty-two expectant moms. Basically, we would read about a mom, her health history and her personal situation, and then we would decide if we wanted to submit our profile to her. So, we would either overnight our book to the agency, or we would submit electronically. Then, with anxious hearts, we would wait for up to two weeks for answer. Fridays were the worst. Nothing happened on the weekends.
Our first match happened in October 2018 with a mom in Phoenix, but after she saw her little man in her 20 week ultrasound, she backed out of the adoption plan. We lost $16K. We matched a year later with another mom in Phoenix. She was four days from giving birth when she decided to back out of the adoption plan. Again, we lost another $16K. Our grant money, our fundraising money, and our hard earned personal savings went to an agency whose staff we had never met, and we still came out emptyhanded. It was incredibly difficult. We were confused, upset, and heartbroken.
We decided that we needed to shift gears completely.
We decided that fostering was more of a sure bet than the adoption route. At the very least, we would have a child in our home, and eventually, we would adopt a placement. We would be able to help a child who was desperately in need. We would be showing the love of Jesus. There are thousands, I repeat, thousands of homeless children in our county alone.
We started our classes to obtain our foster license. We didn’t know at the time, but each adult in the class is reimbursed from the state for taking the class. All background checks, paperwork, etc. are financially covered by the state. Foster families receive a daily per diem for each foster child in their home to cover the cost of basic supplies. The child’s healthcare is covered by the state. If it came time for a child to be adopted, all legal expenses would be covered. And following the adoption, the family would receive a daily per diem from the county until the child is eighteen years old.
Say what? That’s pretty good news.
So, we became licensed foster parents in June 2020. We received several phone calls about children who needed a home, and we either responded a bit too late, or we would decide that this situation wasn’t good for our family, so we declined a few times.
In August 2021, our lives changed. We got a call for a baby boy from a few counties away. Our agency suspected that this situation could possibly turn into a permanent placement and adoption. Our little man came into our home needing tender loving care and medical attention, but over the next few months, he began to thrive. As of June 2021, he is still with us today. It is probable that the situation will become permanent by the end of the calendar year.
Is using an adoption agency a bad thing? Absolutely not! But I would strongly suggest that you consider foster care. Yes, our situation is rare. Most likely, we would have had to go through several placements before adoption even became a possibility. But we are thrilled that in our situation, adoption could be right around the corner. Is fostering hard? Yes. We hear stories of difficult children and difficult homes. But truly, once removed from a bad situation, these children adapt to their current environment and begin to thrive.
It has been a crazy ride, but God led us straight here. We never, ever thought that we would be foster parents. Really.
If you’re on the fence, I highly recommend the book Reframing Foster Care: Filtering Your Foster Parenting Journey Through the Lens of the Gospel by Jason Johnson. It is life-changing. It addresses many concerns, but most importantly, it highlights the desired Christian mindset when it comes to foster care. “What we stand to lose pales in comparison to what everyone else, especially these kids, stands to gain…The beauty of foster care is showcased against the backdrop of the brokenness that surrounds it. In light of the gospel it’s our privilege to crawl into the story of others, to wrap ourselves in their brokenness and willingly be broken by it – to exchange our normal for theirs and so begin to craft an entirely new and better normal together.”
I’m excited to see where God takes us next. Will we foster more children? Probably. Do we regret any of our previous decisions? No. We did what we knew to be right at the time. Has it affected our biological daughter? Yes, but only in ways that have expanded her heart for Jesus.
We followed God’s calling through years of heartbreak, but He was there the whole time, and He will continue to guide us. His goodness and His immeasurable blessings in our lives have been apparent every step of the way. And now, it is incredibly obvious why He took us down the path that He did. We are changed. We are more dependent on Him. And we give Him every ounce of the credit for bringing two amazing children into our lives.
So, where is God leading you next?
Author: Julie Collins
Tim and Julie Collins were one of AHFJ's 2019 Caelyn Raine Memorial Grant Recipients.