We ordered a crib.
I'm peeking around the screen of my computer across the hall into our empty extra bedroom and trying to picture a crib against one of the walls. It doesn't feel real, but the invoice has been paid and the order confirmation has been received. The crib is on the way.
We're expecting, BUT we're not pregnant.
We're becoming foster parents! I write that with a guarded "!" because over the past few months of training and paperwork and prayer, we've learned that the foster care system is anything but "exclamation point excitement worthy". It is a dizzying system that we are still trying to process; when there is an entire legal system built off of broken families and fractured relationships, there is a lot to think through.
To get down to it, here are some answers to upfront questions we've learned to expect:
1. We are not currently planning to adopt. Many families choose to foster with the intention to adopt their placements. Though we are huge advocates for adoption (speaking as an adopted child myself), Ethan and I have prayerfully decided to become foster parents who are just HUGE advocates for "forever families" as a whole - whether adoptive or biological. There is a major misconception that every single child in foster care comes from a family that does not deserve to have them back. Although that is heartbreakingly true in some cases, many foster placements are simply because the family is dealing with hard times, a broken support system, and overwhelming desperation. We never want a child to go back to a harmful or unhealthy situation, but we also do not want to discount the possibility of healing, redemption, and reunification for the families of these children. Ultimately, our goal is this: to become the last home for a child before they go to their forever family. Whether they return to the arms of biological family members, or are placed into outstretched arms of adoptive parents, we want to be a safe haven of love and security from the moment the child comes into our house to the moment they go home.
2. We will cry every time a child leaves our home. We plan on having our hearts broken every time a placement leaves our house. We acknowledge that we might need to take breaks between placements, particularly if we are saying good-bye to a long-term placement. That said: if our hearts didn't break every time a foster child left our arms, then we would have no business being foster parents. Just because we aren't currently expecting to adopt doesn't mean we won't be insanely attached to every child that we care for. However, if saying goodbye to our foster kids means they are saying hello to a permanent home, we will first cry because we are sad and then we will cry because we are joyful. Our ultimate goal is for these children to find a place where they know love beyond bounds; if that means we have to experience a little heartbreak along the way, we will do that with praise (and a lot of chocolate).
3. We are not opposed to the idea of adopting. We believe and whole-heartedly trust that if God places a child in our home and intends for us to be their permanent family, that He will make that truly evident in our hearts. Our home, our arms, and our hearts are open.
4. No, we're not crazy. Being blunt: "Wow, you guys are crazy" was an often heard, and truly hurtful statement we heard as we've told close friends and family. We have prayed continuously about this for months, done research, taken classes, and talked for hours - trust me, we have not made this decision lightly. Though we may feel insane at times (trying to prepare for either gender of a child that could be a newborn, or could be a five year old is not an easy task!), we don't think it makes us crazy to open ourselves to provide a home for a child who needs it. Ethan and I believe that we are called to live lives of one mission: to glorify the kingdom of Christ. This means serving as His hands and feet, even if it means getting uncomfortable. This is a ministry that we truly feel called to serve in. It may be far different than what we pictured our "five year plan" to be, and will be down and dirty in every sense (diapers, I'm looking at you), but we're confident that this is what we want to do and where we want to be.
All of that to say. We bought a crib. I'm researching convertible strollers and car seats. We're preparing for our home study a week from today, and y'all - we are feeling all the emotions. Scared, excited, nervous, and yes - on occasion - crazy. We're doing this in faith, in the crazy, in the uncomfortable, in the unknown, all in for everything that is to come.
Here we go.