Foster Parenting: Part Two

It was a big decision for us to begin fostering again. The journey is different now that we have a daughter. There were many considerations that we made before we decided to jump back into the Foster Care system:

  • Do we have the time and energy to care for babies in terms of our sleep-schedule, demands of daily-life, our relationship, and longer-term plans?

  • How will Aracely respond to children coming into our home and leaving our home?

We tested out the latter issue by bringing a child into our home in June to provide respite for his foster-family for a ten-day period. Our two-year old daughter struggled with sharing our time and attention but ultimately viewed this as an opportunity for her to care for the baby. She declared, “This is my baby. I am a big sister.” When he left, we explained that we were helping another family take care of him. She adjusted back to life as it was easily.

After this positive experience of providing respite care, we decided to test out the waters to begin fostering again. We called our social worker to see if there were any babies who needed a home. The need was immediate. We brought a child into our home that week. 

Since we have begun fostering again, our daughter has been even more interested in holding the baby, helping changing him, feeding, and comforting him when he cries. We make sure to give her lots of individual time. And it is still, “Her baby.”

The first few weeks of fostering proved to be incredibly challenging. Adina got the flu the first week. It was up to me to take care of our daughter, the baby, and Adina. I did it for the first few days, then it became too much. We decided to make use of the emergency respite option. That night, another foster family, took our foster son for two nights. We were going to have him in longer, but Adina recovered, and we were excited to have him back with us. Again, we explained to our daughter that just like we helped a family take care of a baby, another family was helping us take care of our baby for a few days.

The next week, the baby got a fever in the middle of the night. Adina took him to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a virus and sent back home in the morning. The next day, though, he was called back into the hospital because a test came back positive for a Urinary Tract Infection. Adina stayed overnight in the hospital. It turned out that it was a false positive and they were discharged.

After this whirlwind of challenging events, it has been nice settling into a routine. We share the nightly feedings and give each other opportunities to take naps when possible. I am grateful that the synagogue lets me work with him in my office when such challenges occur. Adina and I are suited for this loving service. Adina advocates for the baby’s medical needs. She sets up appointments with agencies, reports on his progress, demands services for his needs, and coordinates his care with all parties.

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We are strong proponents of reunification and co-parenting through the process of reunification. We also are confident in our ability to be a safety-net by providing the option of permanency if that is what is needed. In the meantime, this child needs a loving home and we have one to offer. We enjoy the blessings this baby brings into our lives in the moment. We let go of future possibilities and focus on the beautiful demands of now.

This has also allowed me to recalibrate my priorities in life. With so many unknowns of what may happen this year, we are placing our focus on our family. Our family has the strength and the love to be open to this little person who needs a home right now. I am grateful for that.

National Foster Care Month

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Since we began our Foster Care journey in 2016, May has consistently been an intense month for us. After being licensed in April, both of our long-term placements came to us in May, one year after another. One of those foster placements resulted in adoption.

After this weekend, we will begin taking foster placements into our home again. When we return from Los Angeles, we will provide respite to another foster family for 10 days by taking care of a five-month-old boy whom they are fostering. During this placement, we will asses how fostering other children is for our two-year-old daughter.

Adina is excited to provide care for another baby. She thrives on being part of a team of case-workers, behavioral therapists, social workers, medical professionals, and lawyers who together create a safety-net for children in the foster care system. She has acquired the skill-set to advocate to meet the needs of the child during this critical time of development in the first months of life.

I am passionate about fostering because it provides the care and love for the child in the moment, while his or her family is receiving the support from the state to repair whatever it is that prevented them from providing adequate care. The primary goal of Foster Care is reunifying the child with his or her family. If the parents are not able, then the extended family is asked to stand up; if they are not available then the community of friends is approached; if they aren’t available, then the foster parents are asked to adopt the child.

In our case, we are privileged to have developed an ongoing personal relationship with our child’s extended biological family. This added element of love has not only enriched our child’s life, it has enriched ours, too.

While circumstances can often make this fostering process a challenging one, the values and priorities are correctly aligned. Within this system, I cherish the opportunity to provide this child with love and care, while being a positive force in the child's larger family and community.

One last note: There is a critical shortage of foster parents throughout our country and within our communities. What do you think is blocking families from stepping up into the breach to support our children? People often say that they could never be foster parents because they wouldn’t be able to say goodbye. If we are looking at this issue from what is best for the child, rather than what is best for ourselves, perhaps our perspective would change and more parents would be willing to foster.