Today’s the second in this month’s Better Together Foster Care Series. Please welcome Bethany to the virtual porch today. She’s an acquaintance of mine through a high school friend of mine. We’ve connected over adoption and scrapbooking, and I have no doubt we’d have a great time hanging out in person. I’m grateful Bethany was willing to share because she has a unique story about what foster care looks like in her big family.
Our family’s recent foster care experience started in a later part of life. My husband and I are in our 40s, have been married twenty years, and have six children and two dogs. We were done with babies and looking toward retirement – okay, maybe not yet, but definitely looking toward traveling more, dating each other more, and relaxing more!
This was our third run at foster care: I first fostered as a single young adult. After the birth of our first three children and adopting two from Ethiopia, we again fostered. That time we fostered infants of domestic adoption, keeping them a few months until they could leave the state. Around this time, we also worked with a maternity home and cared for several children independently from an agency. We were introduced to a single dad who needed help and cared for his daughter for months.
Then we had a surprise pregnancy at an “older” age and decided that was it for us! We were busy! Each child participated in multiple sports and activities. One was leaving for the military. We were in a place where most of the children were old enough to stay home alone. We had hit a sweet spot in this parenting gig.
When that youngest son was six years old, I received a random call from a friend who said, “Do you want a baby?” After a crazy whirlwind of events, a week later a little girl was dropped off to us on her first birthday in January 2019. This was supposed to be a one-month “babysitting” arrangement.
We soon learned her dad had not entered a treatment facility and it was going to be a much longer arrangement once the state became involved. We cared for her from January until September, when she officially became a foster placement. She is still in our home flourishing!
We have an amazing relationship with her paternal family and I know this is a unique scenario for a foster child, but she has been so blessed by this.
The real heroes of this journey have been my older six children. We all know that it is indeed a family commitment to foster. With my children being older (ages 7, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 18 at the time), they definitely had a say in the matter. They all agreed unanimously to bring her into our home, but it did not stop there! My youngest happily gave up his own bedroom for her. The other two brothers were happy to let little brother bunk with them! My teen girls were the first to help with baths and diaper changes. They all fought (seriously!) to fill up her cup or buckle her in the car seat. They were all okay for me to tend to her during homeschool time and would wait patiently for me to return.
My youngest son gave up his spot as the baby of the family after 6½ years! My oldest son who was 18 when she arrived played “Baby Shark” for her on his headphones and would fly her in the air until his arms were shaking! The teens had to turn down their music. I couldn’t drive the teens and their friends everywhere like I always had. We had to cancel some out of town trips because she could not leave the state for a while. One daughter had me search for a bike trailer so she could bike with her in the neighborhood. They take turns holding her in the pool and following her on the playground. And 17 months later, I’ve yet to hear a complaint!
I just stand so in awe of children and their willingness to love on and welcome new children – and even more so their reluctancy to be jealous. Notice I do not say I am in awe of MY children. I can name countless families who have fostered or adopted and all the “original” children love the opportunity to accept new children into their homes. Many times we hear from people who say they would foster but they are afraid their children would get attached. Well, I can promise they will!
I can tell our lives all been changed by this little girl, no matter how long she stays or how soon she goes. My children have blown me away with their selflessness, patience, kindness, and love during the past year. I honestly could not have taken her on without their endless help and commitment every single day. So regardless of how our journey ends this time, I know we have all benefitted from taking a call that rocked our comfortable life!
Bethany lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband of 20 years. She enjoys scrapbooking and visits to the beach.