Finding Room in the Car

“So how did you end up fostering?” I always smile when someone asks me this question.

It was a Saturday night. Our family was walking to our car in a dark parking lot. We piled into the large sedan. It wasn’t quite blue and it wasn’t quite purple. We fondly dubbed it the blurple car. We recently downsized and routinely squeezed our family of five into the Elantra. Our goal was simple. Pay off debt and save more money. The low gas mileage would help us achieve our goal. Plus, my husband could literally walk to work. It would be a small, but livable sacrifice. We knew we’d upgrade later to a larger vehicle, but for now we were a one vehicle family paying off debt and saving for the future.

But something was nagging at me and surprisingly it wasn’t one of our three kids squished in the backseat. Someone had mentioned foster care earlier that evening. It was a casual conversation, nothing fancy or spectacular. Nevertheless, it caused a spring of desire to well up within me. The idea of becoming a foster parent was foreign and surprising. I kept pushing the notion to the back of my mind, but it kept coming back like a hound dog sniffing it’s way home. I needed to say something.

“Honey, I kind of feel like we are supposed to get involved with foster care,” I mentioned to my husband.

“Me too,” he replied. Then he expressed the same concerns I had. They were the same thoughts that made me reluctant to even mention the idea. “But how would we do that? We just downsized our vehicle. It doesn’t make sense.”

“I agree. I don’t think we should purchase another vehicle. We made a commitment and I think we should keep it.” He nodded in agreement . “I guess if it’s something God wants us to do, he’ll just have to provide.”

The stars were shining high in the sky while we cruised down the interstate. There wasn’t much more to discuss about the topic. Our hearts had plenty of room. But there was no room in our car.

The following morning was Palm Sunday. There was nothing unusual about the day at first. We wrestled clean clothes on the kids and fed them breakfast and scurried to church to serve.

My husband was chatting with a musician and casually mentioned getting another used car.

“I don’t know where you can buy one,” the musician said, “But I have one I’ll give to you.”

My husband was stunned. Later, I was stunned when he told me. Then we both were stunned when we saw the white Jeep parked in our driveway on that sunny Palm Sunday.

“I think we’re supposed to become foster parents,” he said.

“I think you’re right,” I replied.

A Stationary Journey

I remember the feeling all too well.   Paperwork is being processed.  Inspections are scheduled.   All the while an open heart waits, longing to open doors to a child.

Right now I know a few people going through the process to become licensed foster parents.   The frustration and wait can seem unbearable.  When your journey is stationary, there are several things you can do.

  • Contact family and friends.   Let them know you’re expecting… to be foster parents.  Some families even make cute announcements.   Ask for their support.  You’ll need it.
  • Shift your mindset.   If you’ve never dealt intimately with government agencies, you’re in for a surprise.  It was hard for me to adjust my thinking.  The legal and social tightrope agencies walk is much different than the business world.   Deadlines, protocol, court dates can all be changed with the drop of a hat.   If you’re a Type A personality, start shifting you’re mindset now.   You’re new mantra will be “I am fluid and flexible.”
  • Read about trauma informed care.   Maybe you have parenting experience.   You might even think you’re pretty good.   Parenting children with trauma is different.   Know the facts so you’re ready.
  • Prepare for the worst.   You know the saying, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”    Seriously, prepare for the worst.   The optimist in me hates to go through all the worse case scenarios, but doing this is essential.   Caring for babies?  Prepare for no sleep and nonstop screaming.  Teens?   Plan for drugs and runaways.   Elementary ages?  Think of bed wetting and school troubles.   Why?   When you let go of Pollyanna expectations, you can be pleasantly surprised when things go right.
  • Pray.   Need I say more?