As 2018 is just getting started and some of you are grabbing your planners & calendars to get ready for the new year, I have ONE MORE REALLY AWESOME THING you can add to your schedules! This spring in Marshalltown (and likely many other places across Iowa) they will be offering the preparation class to provide foster care, respite care & adoption. If becoming certified in this way is something you’ve ever thought of, dreamt of, or hoped to do, please sign up now! More information is at the end of this post.
If you’re worried you’ll get “too attached”, YOU WILL!
And that’s the best part! You get to provide a safe home to a child, and growing to love and care for them is part of it. It ends up being bittersweet & beautiful in it’s own way, but it is so transformative for all involved to open your home, for even a short time, and be able to play a role in a family becoming stronger, healthier and safer.
If you’re hesitant because the “system is broken”, IT IS!
And it will probably always be. You will likely disagree with decisions that are out of your hands, and you’ll see firsthand the need for compassion, boldness, advocacy, and genuine support of everyone involved. It’s a broken system full of broken people, broken families, broken laws, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t step in and be part of the good. Your willingness to join the broken chaos will be a challenge unlike any other. Don’t let the brokenness stop you or scare you.
If you’re nervous about the process, THAT IS OK.
It’s a thorough process–there are ten weeks of classes, paperwork, background checks, fingerprints, assignments, and tough questions. But all of those things are there to protect the vulnerable children and families that need YOU! I can honestly say that the other families who I took the class with ended up being some of my closest friends, best support system, and source of respite & help when times have been tough. The class is informative, interesting, and a safe place to explore questions, concerns and hopes for the foster care journey. If I could retake the class, I would! (and Marshalltown has some great teachers this spring!) Remember that the entire process is a means to the end goal, not the end goal itself. The state is trying so hard to prevent further trauma & abuse for foster kids, so when they ask for another background check or unannounced visit, just remember it’s what they need to ensure safety for kiddos.
If you’re putting off pursuing foster care because of your home or apartment, don’t wait anymore!
I always tell people that if a single teacher living in a modest one bedroom apartment can pass the home study, you probably can too! The state & requirements are looking for safety and stability, not a home that just got done being flipped by Chip & Joanna. Can you get a few more fire alarms? Buy a new fire extinguisher? Make sure your windows are safe and your pets records are up to date? It might mean a few afternoons of paper trail chasing, copies, and trips to Menards, but I guarantee that letting go of fostering or adopting because you’re not sure you can finish the “home project” list isn’t a good enough reason to wait any longer!
If you’re skeptical of what it “might do to your family”, FIND OUT!
Foster care will definitely take your family out of its comfort zone and stretch you to be more flexible, understanding, compassionate, patient, and loving. Foster care will likely change common misconceptions, judgments and preconceived ideas about families at risk in your community. It might make your family realize new things about yourselves, it might showcase strengths and weaknesses in everyone, it might throw your routine & normalcy into chaos for a while, and it will force you to find new ways to adapt to change. While it’s not the primary goal, foster care might mean your family expands permanently by adoption or guardianship. Foster care will bring new faces into your homes that end up becoming family, no matter how short or long they stay with you. You’ll meet lifelong friends. You’ll get to watch families make huge progress and healthy steps to becoming whole & together again. You might get to see children change because of stability and unconditional love. It might do a lot of things to your family, but even the hardest parts will bring beautiful things to your lives.
One of the hardest parts of fostering is the essential need for confidentiality. It can feel isolating to not be able to share a story that you’re living and breathing, but isn’t yours to share. It can be hard and even wounding when friends or family don’t understand the behaviors, appointments, therapies, or paperwork that come with the role of foster parenting.
So without giving specifics, I want to share that in just four years I have fostered 12 children, 5 of whom were able to return to their birth families and experience the beautiful reunification that we all celebrated. Four others are still in foster care, but moved away to be closer to relatives who could care for them. One of them got to be adopted by a foster family who had known, loved and cared for the child for two years. And the other two were tiny bundles of surprises who rode the roller coaster of foster care for a time and then were adopted into my forever family.
“A child born to another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me.” -Jody Landers
Please consider how your family can play a role in your OWN community by supporting the foster care system in Iowa. Take the first step today. Go online and fill out the application form. Someone will contact you to let you know how to sign up for the information sessions/classes.
Here is the Marshalltown class information:
Marshalltown: March 5, 2018-May 7, 2018-Mondays
Time & Location: 6 PM – 9 PM at New Hope Church, 3901 S Center St. Marshalltown, IA –Youth Room
Dates: March 5, 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, May 7 2018
Leaders: Mindy Speake and Deb Millizer
If you have more questions about what you read in this post, you can email info@marshalltownmoms and we’ll get back to you! If you’d like to know more specifically about the classes, you can reach out to Bambi Schrader, Recruitment & Engagement Leader, FO Foster/Adoptive Family Connections Program, at 515-291-4071
For further reading, check out these websites:
To follow along some journeys of foster parents in the US, look on Instagram for:
And as long as you’re there, Marshalltown Moms is on Instagram too!