In this post, I've done my best to show you why foster parenting can be a really great thing. Even if you don't ever decide to foster a child, I wanted all "potential parents" to have this information. There are a few benefits to fostering that many people may have never considered.
The first benefit I want to mention (just because I think a lot of people don't know this is true) is that it can cost you little to NO money to adopt a foster child. Whereas a "standard" adoption can cost from $15,000 to $50,000! Taking care of a foster child will cost you less money than taking care of your OWN biological kids, because the state pays for the majority of the child's expenses.
I hate to put this as the first thing on this blog post because the money shouldn't matter, but I was worried that if I didn't put it first, some people would click right OFF this page because they thought it would be too expensive or thought they couldn't afford it. Many people don't realize how it all works (I didn't), so I wanted to share this information with others. You can see a video by some foster parents if you scroll down the page (it's the very last video at the bottom) that will explain a bit about how it works. There are a lot of myths about Foster Care... you see many of them "debunked" by clicking HERE.
When I got pregnant at age 43, it was shortly after I'd watched several videos by the Adoption organization Adopt US Kids. I'd never heard of them until I had seen this commercial on TV (below), and then ended up watching a ton of tear-jerking videos on their site. I was so moved by the videos, it really made me want to become a foster parent! Although I was never adopted, I do have a few friends that were adopted (and they are great people). I also relate to some of these kids who keep getting shuffled around and are very frustrated because they can't seem to find a permanent home (more about this later).
One of my coworkers from a job I had when I lived back home, ended up becoming a foster parent. He wasn't perfect (who IS??), but the key was, he had a BIG HEART. It's funny... when I worked with him, he always appeared a little lonely and sad, but when I talked to him after he became a foster parent (this was years after I moved out of state) he seemed a lot more cheerful. He ended up fostering several children and my Mom told me he was one of the best foster parents they'd ever had.
Being That Person (or couple) who makes a Pivotal difference in Someone's Life
Did you know that John Lennon, Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, Faith Hill, Richard Burton, Nelson Mandela, Marilyn Monroe, Edgar Allen Poe, Director Michael Bay, Sarah McClachlan, Melissa Gilbert, Jamie Foxx, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jesse Jackson, Eartha Kitt and Babe Ruth were all adopted? (there are MANY MORE adopted celebrities but that's just a handful). I realize most of them were adopted at a young age, but I'm just saying.... providing a nurturing and supportive home for a child can have a huge impact on a child. They may not become a movie star, famous songwriter, or the president of the United States, but you could really make a difference in their life.
You can see a list of even more adopted celebrities, by clicking HERE. (and even this will just be a partial list).
Going with the flow of the Universe
We've all heard that there are many cases where a couple decides to adopt a child and then suddenly the woman gets pregnant, because she is no longer freaking out about her fertility. Well I can't help thinking that was part of the reason I finally got pregnant. I didn't actually adopt a child, but I had decided that adoption could be a really good option for me, and that enabled me to stop freaking out about trying to have a baby just because my clock was ticking.
Wanting to get pregnant for the Right Reasons
Have you ever tried really hard to get a man to like you or pay attention to you, and it just DIDN'T WORK? I can't help thinking it's because there is a Great Power up there going, there's something wrong with this picture. She's doing that for the wrong reasons. She needs to feel confident in herself, and love herself FIRST, and stop worrying about what a man thinks of her! Whenever I tried too hard to get someone to like me, it had way too much to do with my ego, and it wasn't about me loving someone for the right reasons.
When I was trying to get pregnant, looking back at it, it seems like I was trying to do that for the wrong reasons, too. It had a lot to do with me just trying to see if I COULD get pregnant. I didn't want to be one of those women who couldn't, or who would be forever labeled as infertile or barren or incapable. I didn't want to be the only single parent out of all my friends who seemed to be getting pregnant left and right! How come they were able to have babies (seemingly at the drop of a hat) and I couldn't??? You could say I had something to prove.
When I finally got pregnant (shortly after I'd decided I really wanted to foster a child) I couldn't help feeling like The Universe was finally saying, OK you've passed the test. It's obvious you wanted to have kids for the right reasons, because it wasn't "all about you"... you really did want to provide a loving home for a child, including a foster child, and try to make the world a better place because of it. I'm not saying this is for sure what happened, but that's certainly what it felt like. Obviously, if God or the Universe put this test on everyone, then there would be no parents out there who would be having their children taken away. But I still can't help there was a higher spirit involved in me getting pregnant, and somehow there were some spiritual reasons behind it. Sadly, I did have a miscarriage which I will always believe was the result of taking a mega dose of Vitamin C (you can read about that in one of my other posts listed to the right), but I also think it was because I just had too much stress in my life.
Why (in my opinion) Couples who struggle with Infertility could make good foster parentsI think that couples who have been struggling to conceive will have a slight advantage over other parents, because they know what it's like to not have things come easily. If you have been frustrated by your own infertility, you know how frustrating it is to see all the people around you having babies, babies and more babies, while you still don't have a kid of your own. You know pain, and you know heartache. And you also know what it's like to go through this private hell while trying to put on a happy face and pretend nothing is wrong. So there is a part of you that will probably have some real empathy for a child who feels unlucky, frustrated, and different from all their peers (but has to keep trying to put on the happy face). These kids must spend a lot of time wondering, "Why me?" "Why can't I just have a normal life like everyone else?"
Why I can relate to Foster Children: I know how frustrating it is to not have a permanent "home" when you really want to stay in one place.
I was raised by a single mother, and there were many summers where she would send me and my sisters to live with my grandparents. I loved my grandparents, but didn't feel comfortable there because it wasn't my home. They were very strict and I often felt like I just couldn't relax. I knew they loved me, but... it was no comparison to being at home. Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz: There's no place like home. There is nothing like feeling like you're in a place you're familiar and comfortable with, and you can just relax and not be constantly worried that you're about to do something wrong!
Another reason I can relate to foster kids...
From the years 1998 to the present, I have had way too many temp jobs. Partially because I like having the time and the freedom to write. I never wanted to work in a corporate environment, permanently. And yet, it was hard not to want to have the health benefits and 401k plan, etc., that come along with being hired as a full time employee.
My own Personal Experience with Fostering... and how REWARDING it is
Although I have never fostered a child, I have fostered many cats, and can tell you it is an extremely rewarding experience that is worth all the effort you have to put into it. Whether you're fostering people or pets... the love you feel in your heart will be greater when you know you are making a big difference in the life of another being.
I have a few adopted cats that were once feral, and I have to tell you... the one that was the most feral (and therefore least likely to be adopted into a "regular family") is my favorite. By just giving him food and shelter, being really sweet to him on a daily basis (and knowing when to give him his space), he went from being constantly fearful and insecure and afraid, to being incredibly sweet and gentle and appreciative of all the love and attention that I give him. I've had him nearly 10 years, but when I feed him, he still sometimes looks up at me like, "Are you sure it's ok for me to eat this? Is this food really for me?" I've had several cats in my lifetime, but watching him eat his dinner gives my heart an incredible surge, like nothing I've ever experienced with another cat, it's because I know I have truly made a difference in his life. He doesn't have that sense of "entitlement" that my other cats seem to have! (I'm not saying cats or children AREN'T entitled to have a good life, but... you're probably less likely to see "entitlement issues" in a foster child, than a biological one).
But I also want to comment that every child deserves a good home. Sometimes I wonder if foster kids watch these commercials and feel offended because they think, why are they trying to stick me with these wacky people? But if you're a foster child reading this for whatever reason, I can tell you this much. Pretty much every parent out there is a little wacky. The single ones are wacky too. The rich ones are wacky, and often have children who have very little appreciation for all they have. I grew up in a pretty poor, dysfunctional, chatotic (but loving) family. THE most important gift you can get from a parent is love. If for any reason you don't get enough of it, it's because they don't have enough love for themselves, and you shouldn't ever take that personally. You need to learn how to love yourself first because just like the song, that really is the greatest love of all. And one day you will have the ability to give as much love, to a child, as you want!
Omg this one would be me....
Just a few touching SUCCESS STORIES...
Adopting a teenager in need could be a good thing for all parties, for many couples who are TTC, for several reasons:
-Watch the videos below, about "Aging out" - and you will see, the experience of being adopted at an "old age" is PRICELESS for a child.
I know that if I ever adopt a teenager, I'm going to make sure to NOT expect it to be a piece of cake, or easy (I think a lot of foster parents probably fail and can't handle it because they expect the child to show appreciation and gratitude and love when this poor kid who does NOT want to be in the foster system whatsoever... I know I sure wouldn't!!!). It's probably best to never expect the child to be grateful, happy, laugh a lot, etc.. (they probably WILL, on occasion, but expecting it will only set you up for frustration and failure). I'm going to expect them to be miserable, brooding, uncomfortable, etc. etc.,... but hang on to the hope that if I just SHOWER them with love and support, every chance I could possibly get, for those few years that I do have them... then I will have done a good thing for the kid (or kids) and it will all be worth it. Any small sense of love or appreciation that I might get back, will just be gravy.
Foster kids talk about what it's like to be a foster child
And here is that video about what it's like to train to become a Foster Parent.
If you're interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent, please CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ADOPTUSKIDS SITE.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Even if you end up conceiving naturally or adopting a child through regular adoption (or just plain decide to remain "child free"), I think it's important to get the word out.