Before I share about last weeks' class, I have to tell you about the beautiful way that God orchestrated the timing of my sweet new nephew's arrival! During our Tuesday foster licensing classes, my parents have agreed to keep our kids, and we all knew it was possible that I'd have to call in last-minute reinforcements when my sister went into labor with her baby #2.
On Monday night, I got a text. "If I had to bet, I'd bet tonight is the night." Man, what a sad thought it was for me to have to miss being there to hang out with my niece while her little brother made his arrival... and have to wait to cuddle him! I wasn't happy to have to choose my class over helping my sister. I texted back. "Keep me posted! And tell your son that he'll be my favorite nephew if he waits until tomorrow night!" Contractions disappeared overnight, and on Tuesday afternoon, my sister reported that there was no activity that warranted a back-up sitter for the evening.
In class that night, I kept my phone silenced but close just in case my parents would get called to KC. At 8:55, my brother-in-law's number showed up on my screen. Ten minutes later, we were finished with class and on our way to get our kids home. I tucked them into bed, threw a few items into an overnight bag, hopped into the car with my parents for the four hour drive to my sister's home. I arrived at her house before my niece awoke and spent the day playing and bonding with my niece while my parents and hers were at the hospital. I got to snuggle my brand-new favorite nephew and spend a few precious moments with my sister before I came back home. Everything worked like clockwork, and it was another little affirmation that God is clearing this path as we walk.
Now. About our class. On my papers from last week, I wrote,
"ASK TOO MANY QUESTIONS!"
During our first meeting and walk-through with our social worker, I had a list of something like seven questions I wanted to ask. I only asked two of them. I wanted to ask for her opinion on family counseling through the adoption process, but I didn't. I haven't. In the back of my mind, I was afraid she would think it was unnecessary or that using a counselor would mean something negative, like we couldn't help our own children navigate stresses in their lives. These were silly little fears that kept me from asking.
In class last week, our licensing officer asked us a question. "If you were unable to take care of your kids, what kind of person would you want to care for them?" This question, one that I've thought about quite a bit, was an easy one for me to answer. I would want someone who is the most like me- in values, personality, and faith. The point was made that bio parents of foster kids are like every parent. They want their children to be cared for by someone who is going to communicate to them about their kid, someone who will provide a loving and supportive atmosphere and who will support the kids' cultural identity.
Matching adoptive families to waiting children is a tricky task. The more cultural similarities there are, the easier it will be, in theory, to bond and transition. The less similar our child/children's background is to our own, the more time and attention will need to be paid to celebrating two cultures.
Amos would LOVE to adopt a deaf child. In fact, he has mentioned it so many times that I'm beginning to wonder if it's not a hunch but a little heads up from God. Amos and J have been learning to sign for over a year, long before this journey officially began. Now, the whole family is learning to sign. Should we end up with a deaf child in our family, it will mean a commitment to his/her culture. We will be doing our best to connect him/her to the deaf community and immerse ourselves in the culture as well. Should we end up with a child from another cultural background, at least we'll be able to talk to each other across a room without shouting!
Much of last week was spent learning about the biological parents' role in foster care and the relationship that foster parents have with bio parents. Ideally, foster parents are committing to the bio parent as well as the foster child. When the goal is reunification, a foster parent can become a mentor to the bio parents, teaching them child care, parenting. and life skills. It truly is a beautiful calling, one that I would love to have. I left last week's class praying for a bio mom that I know whose kiddos are in foster care right now-- and I left more sure than ever that we will be adopt-only parents for now.