How & Why Our Family Became Licensed to Provide Foster Care

Earlier this year our family became licensed to provide foster care and we took our first placement soon after our license became active. The last 6 months have flown by and our foster care experience has been so different from what we were expecting. And I mean that in the best way possible :).

Foster care is temporary and an amazing opportunity to love and care for a child and be part of the ministry of family reconciliation. When you provide a temporary home for a child it allows for the possibility of a permanent reconciliation to happen within a family.

I enjoyed reading and learning from other foster families when we were starting this process. Below are the steps we took to become licensed in Arizona and also the reasoning behind why Josh and I ultimately said yes to becoming foster parents.

THE PROCESS

Our journey into becoming licensed as a foster family started all the way back in November of 2015. Our kids at the time were 4 and 2 years old. Josh and I knew we wanted more information about becoming foster parents and thankfully we found Arizona 1.27 online and signed up for the next orientation.

Arizona 1.27 is a non-profit that partners with local churches to recruit and care for the members of their congregation engaged in the ministry of foster care and adoption. Childcare was provided for our kiddos and we were able to go and learn more about the process and ask questions. If you are at all interested in fostering this organization is a great starting place!

This orientation outlined all the vital steps we would need to complete. For two people who knew nothing about how this process worked we left feeling confident about moving forward but devastated by what we learned.

Everyday in Arizona only 4 families become licensed to provide foster care yet 33+ kids (babies through teens) will come into foster care that same day.

About 2700 children are currently eligible for adoption in Arizona.

In the last year in Arizona only 23% of children were reunited with their families.

If a girl ages out of the foster care systems she has a 2% chance of completing college and is 20% more likely to become pregnant before she is 21. This also means she is at a greater risk to become homeless, imprisoned, or a victim of sex trafficking.

We next signed up for the Basic Training class offered by Arizona 1.27 which increased our understanding of a Biblical approach to foster care and adoption. And this class was so so good! I left convicted and blown away by what was presented in this class. The pastor who taught recommend the book Orphan Justice and I highly suggest reading this book to everyone! Even if you aren’t considering fostering or adopting. It really challenged my thinking and started to break down some of the presuppositions I had about the foster care system and those who are part of it.

In the Spring of 2016 we had our fingerprint cards, picked an agency, began taking our 10 week PS-MAPP class, and filled out stacks of paperwork. PS-MAPP stands for “Partnering for Permanency and Safety – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting.” Arizona requires a minimum of 30 hours of training before becoming a foster parent. Several weeks into this class Josh and I shockingly learned I was pregnant! You can watch the video HERE. Spoiler alert: Josh had a vasectomy the year before and had two clean sperm counts after the procedure.

In the Fall of 2017 we contacted our agency again and began the steps needed to complete the licensure process. This time we had a 5, 3, and almost 1 year old. We had to retake two of our PS-MAPP classes which equaled 6 hours plus another 3 hour class, fill out even more paperwork, meet with our licensing worker from our agency, have medical exams, and share all the details from our childhood until currently.

All our paperwork was completed right before Christmas and our file was turned over to the State of Arizona the first week of January 2018. And several weeks later received an email from DCS that our license was active! This means that our family was placed on the list for a placement. We decided to keep the order of our biological children so any child that is placed with our family will be younger than our youngest.

WHY WE DECIDED TO BECOME A FOSTER FAMILY

The Bible says we are all image bearers of God, which means we were created to point others towards Him, and to display His character in the world. God has wired each of us differently to encapsulate his own qualities. Taking care of orphans was NEVER a desire I had on my own BUT, I can now say that because of God, through the work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit within me, God’s call to care for orphans has overwhelmed me. To the point now that I could not imagine our family saying no to caring for another family during this season of life.

And I say our family because this is not just about myself and Josh. Our kids are part of this life changing experience, as well as our extended family, by being the hands and feet of Jesus and loving those who have no one to care for them. Our kids were beyond excited, because we had been talking about doing this for awhile. Our five year old asked if we could buy a bus so we could take all the kids who need a home. We talked to them about the baby who will come into our house and how we we will be their family for as long as needed until their own mommy or daddy can take care of them again. We have also made sure to continue to explain to our kids that they we will always be with us.

Over and over again Josh and I have heard the same statement from other people, “I don’t think I could do that, I would get too attached”. And I get it. I really do. We know our hearts will get broken but we also know that we have an amazing opportunity to make a life changing impact on a family and to offer a loving home for a little person in need.

This is new territory and we know we won’t do this perfectly but we hope to do this with as much grace and mercy as possible. Grace and mercy to each other, to our kids, to the foster care system, to the family of the baby who enters our home, and especially to the little one who we welcome into our home and family. This grace and mercy we can extend because it has been extended freely to us.

Josh and I have been reconciled by God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-20) and believe that the Bible is alive, active, and sharper than any double edge sword (Hebrews 4:12). And scripture has pierced my heart multiple times as the Lord has convicted me and reshaped my priorities and focus over the last several years. I would not be writing this at all if not for His goodness, grace, and mercy.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27

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My New Haircut! 10 Inches Gone! (Before & After)

I have been debating cutting my hair for some time and I finally did it! And it was the best choice! I wake up and it is super easy to style and takes me so much less time to wash and blow-dry. For this season of life I am absolutely loving my short hair.

Earlier this year I wanted to cut it so badly. After thinking it over I decided to wait until summer, grow it out more, and then donate my hair. I had 10 inches taken off and I left it up to my stylist to determine the cut and style. Needless to say it was a dramatic difference and I have been so happy with the results.

Wearing: Romper (Similar)

I donated my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths the program that helps women battling cancer feel like themselves again with free, real-hair wigs.

In case you are interested here are a few of the products/tools I use on my hair:

My husband was super supportive and my kids were totally unfazed when I came home from the salon. This haircut was definitely a win-win.

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The Mama Confessionals: What No One Tells You About Motherhood

I can remember the summer before our oldest went to preschool. I continued to second guess myself in the weeks leading up to his first day of the twice weekly class he would be going to for a combined 5 hours a week. Were we making the right choice? Would he be ok? Would I be ok? And many more anxiety filled questions that were very similar. And here is a little spoiler alert for all you parents with little babies. These questions, at least in my experience, continue to happen for each new milestone. I don’t think you can really understand this emotional roller coaster if you aren’t a parent.

At the time I was just 6 months out of counseling for postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth to our daughter. During the second week of preschool, I entered a room of 30 women+ women who I had never met to attend a weekly bible study that was held at the church where my child attended school. Clutching my Bible, I felt scared, my anxiety was choking me, but I knew I needed to be surrounded by women who I could learn from, lean on, and laugh and cry with. But most importantly I knew I needed to be fed and nourished with God’s word as often as I could.

As the months went on I found myself actively engaged in reading my Bible and more importantly being convicted by the Holy Spirit. Upon looking back at my sons preschool years I am discovering that he is not the only one who grew up. God has wrecked me. And I mean that in the best way possible.

My mama heart is bursting with love, joy, and goodness when I look at all my kids and see how much they are learning and growing, and changing. And these feelings have me either smiling or crying. The tears are happy but there is also this weird grief element that goes along with it too. It is like I am trying to enjoy these moments because I know they are fleeting by being as present as possible, but by doing this it also causes me this weird heartache.

You always hear other parents tell you that “It goes by so fast.” And that is totally true, it really is, but nobody tells you about this wonderfully horrible wave of emotions that happen each time your child reaches a life milestone.  Based on what I have already experienced I am guessing that each milestone gets more wonderful but equally more gut wrenchingly intense.

Over the past year I have made it a daily priority in our home to be intentional about reading and helping our kids understand the significance and importance of Jesus and the work that was done on the cross. These feelings that I am having as I watch my babies grow up only intensifies my desire to consistently share the gospel message with them. This life is so short. Based on this I have begun to ask myself 3 questions.

  • Have I been consistent in spending time in God’s word on a daily basis? If I can’t commit to daily reading the Bible on my own I don’t know how I can expect to be able to do it for my kids consistently.
  • Am I looking for ways to continue to grow in my knowledge and understanding of the culture and context in which the scripture was written?
  • Can others around me say that they have seen Christ centered change in my life?

With these questions in mind I can then look at what I am feeding into my kids and nourishing their minds with. And let me tell you, I am not sure when it happened but the two oldest have stopped loving veggies and only want hamburgers and pizza the majority of the time. Truly, their souls might be getting better nourishment at this point.

All jokes aside, I am so grateful. The privilege to be a parent isn’t lost on me. Frequently when I lead my kids daily bible lessons and catechism I pray that the Holy Spirit convicts them to turn to Jesus and that they will be called to repentance as they acknowledge that their sin is separating them from the Lord. With very few things for certain in this life I can rest assured knowing who I have placed my hope and faith in and I will continue to pray my children come to know God as their personal Lord and Savior.

Looking back over the last three years, I am not surprised that my son grew and changed. What I had not anticipated was that God had such plans to grow and change me. As our oldest enjoys his final week of preschool I am appreciative for the love, support, teaching, and guidance he has received. I am thankful for the friendships he has made and in turn the friendships our family has made. And lastly as Josh and I continue to raise these little ones into adulthood, I am grateful for my relationship with Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

PS…To our preschool family, our family has been blessed by being in community with you all!

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