I have talked a lot recently about our new house and the plans we have for it. I’ve mentioned room renovations and lots about how packing is going. I don’t think I have talked about the heart behind why we are moving since Matt and I wrote The Story of What’s Next.
Today, I want to open up a little more about it with all of you, but first I need to introduce you to someone who will help me do this.
My beautiful friend Jill blogs at Design Dreams. She has been around since the start of Spoonful of Imagination and been one of my biggest cheerleaders and sources of encouragement with all my posts. What began as a simple twitter follow & conversation led to email chains, and now regular text conversations. I love this girl, and I can not wait for the day for us to meet in person. Jill and I had a conversation the other day about foster care, and she encouraged me to share my answers with all of you. I am going to let you in on that part of our conversation. Jill has a huge heart and had lots of amazing questions about our thoughts on foster care. For the sake of time, I am going to share her questions and my answers (but leave out all her sweet comments back to my answers) in an interview form.
I wish we could have had this conversation in person, but through all the miles…a friendship was born and here is one conversation between friends.
Jill: Do you feel like foster care will take attention away from your kids or that it will enhance their lives?
Me: I am scared of how I will be able to give my kids the same attention and help prevent them from growing resentful. I’m trying to take comfort in that we can control how many and how often we take kids in. If we need longer stretches between kids, we can do that. BUT I am praying this enhances my kids’ lives and gives them eyes to see how blessed they are, and I want to include them in the process as much as we can. What I want them to know and breath is we are loved, so let’s love others.
Jill: Are you planning to foster small kids or any age?
Me: Ideally, I would love around Reagan’s age. I keep thinking an 18 month to two-year old would be the youngest we would take, but I don’t think I could say no to a baby in need. I definitely wouldn’t want to go older than Caleb (our oldest). So, in between our kids’ ages is ideal.
Jill: What if you fall in love with a foster child?
Me: We are going to start with doing Respite Care. This is where we get the child(ren) immediately after they are removed from their home. Usually, this is short-term and they are then transported to another family member or a longer term foster family after a few days. I know this process can be messy though, and those short-term stays can easily turn into longer term stays. We are open to that, and we would love to adopt at some point. I told Matt I am scared we will fall in love with the first child, adopt him and then be maxed out so we can’t help anyone else. Matt encouraged and challenged me though with his response. He said if we change the life of one child, and are only in this for that one child, that is huge. He is right. So, although we have our own vague expectations, we are open to where ever God wants to take us.
Jill: What if (someone considering this) thinks I can’t possibly feed another mouth, even if it is temporary? Are there income requirements?
Me: I am not sure if there are income requirements. I am a little nervous about the expense. I know the state gives you a little money, although that should never be a reason to get into this. Since we thought we were done having kids, I have given away most of my baby items (including the clothes). I have thought a few times about what if we got a baby that needed formula or clothes smaller than my daughter’s girl 3T wardrobe? I’m not sure how we will do it, but I am also not worried. We are not going in this on our own. God is leading us down this path, and he has always been faithful to provide. I know he will continue to do so. I know there are foster organizations that you can get things from. We have a ton to still learn, but it doesn’t make me fearful, it more makes me think it’s just something we will figure out as we come to it.
Jill: Are there requirements on having separate bedrooms for the children?
Me: I think there are requirements based on their age. I do know young babies can stay in the same room with you. This room situation is the main reason why we are moving. Our bedrooms were so small there was not enough space for another bed in any of them. We are blessed to have a room in our new house that will have beds just for kids in need. I want to put a day bed in there or maybe a bunk bed and Reagan’s crib. I can’t wait to decorate it and make it feel warm and inviting.
Jill: How will you explain to your kids when the foster child has to leave (provided you don’t adopt)?
Me: I hope it will be along the lines that we loved and did what we could for that child(ren), but it is time to trust Jesus with them. Their family or a new family is ready to love on them, but we can continue to pray for them.
That is the extent of the questions Jill had for me. In some ways, I feel inadequate to be venturing in selling our house and moving into a new house to head down a road we know so little about. What I have to trust is the desire that God has placed in hearts is all we need in this moment. The house stuff has been such a whirlwind and was so draining that it consumed most of us. We have put off getting “trained” until we are settled in our new house. I do know part of getting trained and becoming certified foster care parents is a home inspection, so it makes sense to go through the process at the house we will be at long-term.
I am trusting that as we need to know something or go through something, what we need for that moment will be given to us. We are not perfect. Anyone in my life could attest that I have hard, bad days. I get down. I get overwhelmed. I lose it and have to humbly apologize. I am not perfect, and I still have moments where I question if I can handle this. Will I be able to answer my phone and return calls? Two things that I detest. I don’t know. I am challenged and know this will continue to be a year of change for our family.
I am open though, and I think that is what being obedient is about. I don’t have all the answers and don’t even know how we will be able to do it, but we are ok with that. We don’t have to see the end destination or series of stops along the way, we just have to take the very next step in front of us.
I saw this quote “Be The Good in the World” and knew I had to create a painting of it for our house. The message is so relevant and really the heart behind our desire to foster care. We are not perfect, but we can be some good in a child’s life.
Thank you to Jill for inspiring me to be open with my heart and such a daily encourager. Thank you to so many of you for being a huge encouragement and cheerleader behind my family. We are not alone, and that is one reason why I think we do not have fear about opening our lives and family up to doing foster care. We live in community and have some really incredible people that not only cheer us on but are there for us to lean on. Thank you for being on this path with us.
Sue Stovall says
Beautiful Matt and Erica. I so admire you and what you are doing. Bless you and your family for giving into the life of others.
Libby Stephens says
Love you guys and praying for what God has next for you.