Our Journey of Kinship Foster care and Adoption
Where to begin with our story?
1) We’re middle aged (not too old but old enough that we are starting over)
2) We didn’t plan on this situation becoming permanent
3) It’s a bittersweet victory
When we were asked in February of 2018 to take over foster care of a family members little one, my husband and I had no hesitation and readily agreed. After all, it was only going to be temporary and my family member would straighten up and do the things that the state requested of her in order to be reunified with her child. Right? So in March 2018 we officially became first time foster parents.
So with a lot of hope and a whole lot of naivety we jumped into being both foster parents and aunt and uncle to a cute two and a half year old little girl. She was a whirlwind to say the least! She left destruction in her path and had absolutely NO boundaries. She didn’t know a stranger and honestly would have went to and with whoever showed her attention. It scared us tremendously. We often wondered what we had gotten ourselves into with taking her into our home and hearts.
We went to family support meetings every three months, we tried to be supportive like they taught us in our Foster Parent books and classes, but my family member was on a path of self destruction. We just didn’t know it at that time. We thought that they would surely do the right things, after all she had lost one child to SIDS and she understands what losing a child is like. We didn’t want that for her again and certainly not by us.
We got our little one enrolled into Headstart when she was three and found out that it wasn’t just us that had troubles getting her to settle down and be still. She had to be held by her teachers in order to not interrupt her classmates, she had to be redirected numerous times during her half a day of learning, she did not do well with not interrupting when adults were talking and numerous other behavioral issues. Her school Counselor called us and informed us that they would like to have her evaluated by a child psychiatrist as well as a play therapist. We were willing to do whatever it took to help her in her mannerisms because we still thought at this point that we were only going to be her temporary family until her biological mother was able to take care of her.
We went to the psychiatrist, as well as our little one started play therapy at school with “Miss Jen Jen”. It was amazing! We have always been a Christian family and to have someone who loves God as much as we did helping our little girl was the blessing that we didn’t know she or my husband and I needed! She worked very hard with our foster daughter and listened to us when times got really tough. And they got really really bad at times. My sister would refuse drug tests, she turned my parents against me at one point, to which I had to cut all ties with them for a very long while. Some super ugly things were said about us and to us. And all we were doing was taking care of this little girl who we had grown to love with all of our hearts! We never set out with intent to adopt but after a year and a half our permanency goal changed from reunification to adoption. All the while Jen was working with our little one with her behaviors. They had improved so much in the year and a half that she had been seeing her at that point. Jen was able to see beyond her little whirlwind thoughts and was able to figure out the things that triggered our little one to the point of hyper vigilance that she would display after contact every week with her biological mother.
Jen was the angel (although she won’t say it and doesn’t see it that way) that our family desperately needed. There were many times in our journey that we wanted to give up. Fostering is difficult but kinship foster care is excruciating! You lose family and friends because you refuse to “bend” the rules, you fight an uphill battle with different parenting styles and you are just plain the BAD guy because the child lives with you and not their biological parent. We got to the point that we had to make a decision in the foster parenting process and that was if we would be willing to adopt this precious little girl who had done nothing wrong in her life. This little girl who had us head over heels for her. So when asked we agreed to file a petition for adoption since it was obvious that my family member wasn’t going to change their ways. We had a long road ahead of us. She had other family that decided that they wanted to also adopt and we were then faced with a strong possibility of losing this precious little one that God had sent to us to care for. We already had 10 children between my husbands previous marriage and my previous marriage and the two that we had together, so it wasn’t as if we were childless, but this little girl had been sent to us and we couldn’t let her down. Jen often heard our woes and trials as foster-parents soon to be adoptive as well as helping our little one discover why she behaved in the ways that she did and helping her understand her own feelings. Mind you at this point she’s only 4 years old.
Finally we got a TPR and Adoption day. We were obviously on pins and needles waiting for that day to be over and turn towards our favor. Annnnnd it did! Jen was just as nervous as we were and she was the very first person to take the stand, thankfully for us it was in our favor! During a break from court testimonies, Jen said a quick prayer that things would go smoothly. We know that without Jen's expert testimony that things could have gone south quickly. But because she is the person and therapist that she is we were able to prevail and adopt our daughter. She is such a God-send to us and Jen was placed in our lives for that miracle to happen. Thank you Miss Jen Jen for the love that you showed our daughter and our family with your support and continuing guidance! We love you and hope that our testimony will help other’s in their trials of life!