May is foster care awareness month. Here at Fostering Hope, we care deeply for children who may be experiencing foster care and their families. In honor of foster care awareness month, some of us will be sharing how our lives and families have been touched by foster care and a few of the lessons we have learned along the way.
As the saying goes, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!” My husband and I visited Austin for the first time in the fall of 2013 and fell in love with the city. A few years later, we packed up our life and moved across the country without knowing a single person. Five years later in 2018, we had our first baby.
We always knew we would pursue foster care or adoption and the pandemic presented a clear need for foster families. We started the process to become licensed foster parents in August 2021, and our first placement came to us on December 23rd of that year.
I had been reading trauma-informed care books and listening to former foster youth and adoptees for years prior to even starting the licensing process. Surely, given my vigor to absorb all the content and perspectives I would be prepared to care for an emergency placement. However, I soon learned that reading about trauma and caring for someone who has experienced it are two very different things.
In 2022, We went from parenting one toddler to parenting virtual twin boys. Our adopted son is only six weeks younger than our biological child. The need to physically co-regulate a child was incredibly draining, especially in addition to all the standard foster care related medical appointments, therapy, and parental visits. We found ourselves burnt out. Often, I would end up crying on the bathroom floor due to sheer overwhelm and isolation.
We needed help and didn’t have a support network to lean on. The relationships I spent time building up were extinguished during lockdown. Our Child Placing Agency’s list of current certified babysitters saved us. My mind was blown by the individuals who gave up their time to become certified and care for a family they did not know.
These sitters gave us an afternoon or evening off. For a few hours, it felt like a huge weight was lifted. Individuals who started out as strangers became life savers who allowed for peace of mind. We knew our children were safe because they had vetted and certified babysitters. We could not have continued through our foster placement, which ultimately resulted in adoption without the help of these sitters. Just having a small break every few weeks breathed life into our home. I will be eternally grateful to these people because we would have quit without their help, and then I wouldn’t get the privilege to be “Mommy” to our two boys.
I often hear, “I could never do what you do.” If you feel this way, consider volunteering to become a certified babysitter. You could be someone else’s life raft.