On Becoming A Foster Care Parent

Towards the beginning of this year, my wife and I decided that we wanted to become foster care parents. I’ve wanted to post a message here for quite some time about what that journey was like and where we stand now in the process. There are moments in a person’s life in which you experience only once. I have a feeling that our first placement of a foster child into our home will be one of them.

The story we tell to our friends about how my wife and I decided to take this journey together goes something like this:

  • She asked me if we could get a dog. I told her no. (I’m not an animal person and she’s pretty allergic.)
  • She then asked me if we could participate in a foreign exchange program for students. Again, I said no. (Or at least, not now…)
  • Apparently swinging for the fences, she asked me what I thought of becoming a foster parent. I paused a second before I said “Yeah, sure!”
  • She passed out in shock, woke up and is now making $750,000 per year in sales as the inventor of the “no ladder” method of cold calling. =)

All jokes aside, my true response was that the idea didn’t exactly cause me to immediately be dismissive and that I would keep an open mind during an upcoming information session at a nearby church. At the end of the information session, I understood two things. First, there are a TON of children who, for whatever reason, find themselves in the position of no longer being safe in their homes. It didn’t seem fair that kids in these situations wouldn’t get the opportunity to just be a kid, because of a bad decision or two that the parents may have made. Second, that becoming a foster parent was no small act and not something to be taken lightly. We prayed about it, talked through some of the details and then decided that we wanted to move forward.

We chose an agency that was centrally located from the 25 or so that were in the Central Phoenix area. We attacked our first overwhelmingly large pile of paperwork with gusto and signed ourselves up for the next mandatory class for becoming a foster parent, called the Partnering for Safety and Permanence Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting, or PS MAPP for short. It was a 10 week class that walked us through the fundamentals that comprise the foster care and adoption system here in the State of Arizona. Through a series of models, we got to work though some examples of how children form positive (or negative) attachments to those around them, how to activate various resources once a child has been placed in our home, and how to make sure that our eventual foster child stays safe while in our care. We also learned about the overarching goal of the foster care program: reunification of a disrupted family.

We did the class. We had multiple “are we sure we are ready” discussions. We survived the scrutiny of our home from various interwoven government agencies. We completed the countless volumes of paperwork about our past and present relationships with friends and family. And, its with a smile on my face that I can finally say, “We’ve got the green light and are ready for placement!”

I’m ten percent scared and ninety percent excited. I have random facts about what document goes with what situation running through my head. I have no idea when we will “get the call.” And I have no idea who the child is going to be or what he or she will be like. But, I know that I am ready to leap into the situation with both feet and do the best we can to provide a child in need with a good home for as long as it’s necessary.

More to follow, I’m sure. Feel free to ask questions if you have any.