Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Friendsgiving 2016

This past April started my journey into investigating foster care, listening to God tell me to move back to my community in Orlando to set down roots and to start the certification process. Every step of this journey has been terrifying but I have never doubted it. I have to keep remembering this so that my selfish, human nature doesn't allow me to chicken out. I know I could easily tell people that I'm working on getting certified or considering it and they would all pat me on the back and say "Good job! It's so awesome that you're doing that. I could never." But what good does that do? It would only build my self esteem while kids are sitting in a group home, hoping for someone to tell them that they are worthy of being loved. I can do that! I have the space, the heart, the time and the desire, why wait another minute?

As excited and driven as I am, I still need to walk into this, not run. I want to really be ready, not just jump in, hope for the best and end up freaking out. So over the months of September and October I attend the Florida Pride classes for certification in Foster Care. Simultaneously, I was moving into a new home and preparing it for a small family. Before this, I've lived in houses with up to 6 roommates at a time and never paid more than $400 in rent. Now my frugal spirit is having anxiety attacks as I spend $40 on paint and $70 on an electric bill. But if one thing has been reinforced over and over through this is that when you are obedient to God, He never ceases to provide. Dozens of friends called me up to offer furniture, help in moving and endless prayers and words of encouragement.  Was I still regularly freaking out? Yes. Did I ever doubt this? Not once. It's a very strange feeling to have your spirit calm but your brain full of fireworks.

Things move very slowly in the process of certification and actual fostering. I graduated form my classes at the end of October and little did I know that it would take over four months until I finally went through the process of inspections, interviews, paperwork and just plain waiting for who knows what before I was considered available to the case workers.

People keep asking "do you have kids yet?" And as excited as I am to finally have children in my care, I know the heartbreak that comes long with it where a child was just ripped from their home and  placed with a stranger. As much as I desire to have kids in my home I kills me to know the pain they have already lived through. So while all my friends only have great intentions, their questions continually break my heart.

Preparing a house to become a home

I'm starting this blog further into my fostering process than I wish I had, but I'm going to stick with the "better late than never" mentality.  This roller coaster of an inkling of the idea to foster, to sitting at my dining room table after recently contacting my case worker with a photo of my newly purchased first aid kit, has been so unbelievable and felt like 3 weeks and 3 years all at once. I need to document it for fear of forgetting these important moment.

To quickly introduce my situation, the past few years I've felt this pull to live my days for something greater than myself. I'm a strong, intelligent, independent woman who loves coming and going as I please. I work in job fields that I love, cheer for teams that I swear are the greatest and try new activities that scare me. But after 34 years of doing whatever I desire, I had to address this missing chunk inside of me that I couldn't fill.

I've been praying about the next big step in my life for years now and have been stumbling around trying to make these square puzzle pieces fit into the circle hole in my life - praying that I can jam these squares into these circles and somehow make it work. But jamming things of any size into any space is pretty painful and uncomfortable.

Everything changed last April when I found myself in Nashville, TN, sitting in church and hearing a sermon series on vulnerable children. Now, I've taken the mission trips, I've sponsored the children in Nicaragua and I have the friends who have adopted children, but never had I thought that hearing about the millions of kids in our country that need someone to care for them, look out for them and provide a safe place for them could resonate so strongly. All of these things I've taken for granted my whole life and I knew that I could provide these things easily to a young one. I also knew that I wanted to mentor older kids and not raise the babies. Most everyone wants a young child that they can raise as their own, but I want to help young teens learn how to treat their friends, how to respect themselves and how to navigate the almost adulthood task of learning to drive, spending money wisely and graduating school.

The following accounts will be my journey of wrapping my head and heart around this step into fostering a family.