Questions To Ask Before Becoming Foster Parents

This month is one year mark of when we adopted our son! It has seriously flown by and Josh remarked the other day that it feels like he has always been with us and part of our family.

I have only positive things to say about our foster care and adoption experience. We attended several amazing classes before we even found our agency and that really prepared us and answered a ton of our questions.

I highly recommend Arizona 1.27 if you are local. 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. I would also recommend the book Orphan Justice 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.

If you are thinking about becoming foster parents this post contains a few questions that will be helpful to ask yourself (and also spouse if you are married).

Do you have a supportive community of people around you?

I have to give a shout out to our family, friends, small group, church, my women bible study, preschool mama’s, and Josh’s co-workers on the fire department. They helped us survive last year. I am not exaggerating when I say that. We had people rooting for us and cheering us on. Make sure you have people like this around you. They may not understand what you are going through but a kind smile, supportive word, or friendly hug means the world to foster parents.

Are you prepared to have a new routine?

Whatever you day currently looks like be prepared for a new normal. The child that is placed with you is going to come with their own hurts and trauma. Therapies, doctors appointments, numerous agencies in and out of your home, and all this on top of whatever else you need to manage during the day.

Will you be able to come alongside a hurting family and work towards the goal of reunification?

Opening your home to a child in need of temporary care will give the parents the time and tools they need to help their family reunify. Reunification is the goal of foster care and you as a foster parent will play a large role in reaching this goal. Obviously if there are signs of abuse or neglect reunification may not be an option which leads to the next question…

Are you able and willing to adopt?

When we got our first placement and had our intake meeting with the DCS Investigator handling the case, we were asked if we were able to adopt. I am not sure if this is the case for every placement but be prepared to know ahead of time what your answer would be to that question. There is no right or wrong answer.

How will fostering and possibly adopting impact your biological children?

Our kids were ages 5, 3, and 1 when we started fostering. As we were getting licensed we talked to them about the baby who would come into our house and how we would be their family for as long as they needed until their own mommy or daddy could take care of them again. We also made sure to frequently explain to our kids that they we will always be with us.

Another factor to consider is birth order. If you have other children in your house are you going to take a placement older than your youngest biological child? For our family we knew that we would be sticking with the birth order of our kids, meaning that any child that was placed in our family would need to be younger than our youngest.

Have you counted the costs?

While there’s no financial cost to receive your foster family license, a considerable investment of time is required. The process usually takes about four to five months, and includes training, a home study by your agency, and a home inspection. This is just the beginning.

Fostering will cost you. You will be challenged emotionally and will quickly find yourself removed from the normalcy you had before. Be prepared to be uncomfortable. Your life will never be the same after doing this. Everything changes. Foster parenting is hard but worth the costs. Fostering allows a child to be in loving and caring home surrounded by people who will advocate for them. When we were taking our foster parenting classes it was stated that we should not be asking “can we afford to do this?”but “can we really afford not to do this?”. While saying yes to one child won’t fix or eliminate the need for services associated with foster care it will make a huge difference for that child.

Is your heart ready to offer radical hospitality?

Are ready to open up your home to a world that is hurting? I am not just talking about to a child. You will have countless people inside your home while you foster. Radical hospitality doesn’t just ask “do you want to be with us?” It says “how can we be with you?” You and your family have the opportunity to be a beacon of encouragement and grace to others. Radical hospitality uses the home we have as a tool that can further God’s kingdom. Radical hospitality welcomes those who look, think, believe, and act differently from us into our everyday lives. This helps others see what true Christian faith really looks like. The quote below sums up my reason perfectly for becoming a foster parent.

Check out these staggering statistics in Arizona…

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.

There are so many ways to encourage and support foster kiddos! If foster parenting isn’t for you but you still want to help contact a local foster care and adoption agency to see if there are current needs they have. You could help organize a backpack drive for the upcoming school year, purchase Christmas gifts for a foster child, or sew a few blankets for kids who are just entering care. Many kids coming into care often come with very little so a stuffed animal or blanket for them to hold is a huge comfort for them. In Arizona you can also become a life coach to a teen who is about to age out of the foster care system.

If you have questions about foster care please feel free to send me an email or leave a comment below :).


10 Helpful Tips for Foster Parents of Infants

Foster parenting has been a huge learning experience for our family. If you and your family are thinking about fostering infants or about to take your first placement I am sharing 10 tips that I hope will be useful and helpful. 

Hospital Pickup versus Home Drop Off

If you have the option to pick up your placement from the hospital do it. The nurses will be able to provide you with lots of helpful information. Ask questions because they will be able to give you more background information on your child as well as feeding tips, routine, and medical concerns. For little ones coming from the hospital be sure to note what type of nipple was used on the bottle for feeds. This was something that we struggled with and finally ended up buying a package of disposable nipples that fit on the Dr. Brown bottles we had already purchased.


Make an appointment with WIC as soon as you know you are getting a placement. I had no idea just what a valuable resource this would be for our family. Our little one was provided 12 cans of formula each month when he was placed with us through WIC. While this didn’t cover all the formula that he needed for the month it greatly helped to reduce our out of pocket expense. His formula cost for the first 30 days we had him was $400. Having breastfed I had no idea just how expensive formula can be. I love WIC and think it is such an amazing resource and having nothing but good things to say. The staff was kind and resourceful and I was able to gain additional information from them about our baby because he had been brought to WIC previously before he was placed with us.

Know Your Community Resources

Your foster care agency should have given you a list of organizations in your community that can provide additional resources. Be sure to go over that list. In Arizona there are several great organizations that offer assistance to families who provide foster care. I called Helen’s Hope Chest within the first few days of placement and made an appointment for our family. Helen’s Hope Chest offers clothes, shoes, diapers, toys, quilts, and books to foster children in Arizona. Even our biological children got to pick out an outfit each visit. All our kids love Helen’s Hope Chest! Our first visit was epic and they even had our baby’s special formula on hand and gave us several cans. God is so good! When a scheduled visit is within 3 months of your child’s birthday they get to pick out a toy from the birthday room. It is truly a special place.

Get Comfortable in the Doctor’s Office

I feel like we our pediatricians and therapy office became our second home for the first few months. If your baby has a large amount of medical needs be prepared to spend several hours each week at the hospital, pediatrician’s office, and with an occupational and physical therapist. I packed snacks and water bottles for myself and our children in addition to the diapers and formula I packed for the baby. Be sure to take a notebook so you can write down any important information for the baby’s medical care. With so many appointments it was helpful for me to put our notice to provider in a clear heavy duty sheet protector that could easily be pulled out of the diaper bag when needed. I found these dry erase pockets at the dollar store that worked perfectly.


The question we were asked about the most by our friends and family was how we were all sleeping. I will be honest, the first few months were rough. We had a crib set up in our room for the first 3 weeks but soon realized that we were on edge over every little noise that the baby made. We decided to transition him to his own room which worked so much better. Nighttime sleep is dependent on many different factors. Our first goal was to establish a daytime routine that created an opportunity for naps and a consistent feeding schedule. This will look differently depending on the age of your infant and if there is any ongoing medical concerns. I very loosely followed the schedule I had used with our children when they were the equivalent age to our foster baby. However you decide to setup your sleeping arrangement be sure to purchase a white noise machine for all the bedrooms in your home and blackout curtains.

A nightlight is super helpful as well to keep the light dim in the room when you have nighttime feeds, to change a diaper, or to just offer extra snuggles. We worked really hard to try and bond with our baby by responding to any noise he made when he first came to us. He didn’t cry to have his basic needs met for weeks. Not even when he was wet at night and had soaked his jammies or crib. It was heartbreaking. My advice would be to respond to any noise you hear at first to let your child know you will come. Even if its 2am and you have just fallen asleep because you were up an hour ago feeding the baby a bottle. If you are married you and your spouse can take turns each night getting up with the baby to guarantee you are both getting more hours of sleep at least every other night.

It may feel uncomfortable for your baby to be held and cuddling might not feel natural to them right away. Bottle feeding is the perfect time to practice cuddling, especially right before bedtime. Dim the lights in their room, turn on the white noise machine, and hold them close. Be sure to switch which side you are holding them on when they are halfway through with their bottle. This helps with brain development and a skill which is called crossing the midline. Once the bottle is finished be sure to hold them upright, sing a song or two, and rub their back for at least 10 minutes to release any air bubbles before you place them in their crib. It might sound simple but these little things will quickly help establish a routine for your little one.


Our little one did not like baths, at all. They were shocking to him and he whimpered the entire time. It was awful to see how terrified and uncomfortable he was in the bath water. From bathing my other babies bath time had always been pleasant and enjoyable. We opted for washcloth baths instead and placed him in the Shnuggle, which is the best baby bathtub ever invented, without water. Gradually each bath time we would add a small amount of water to the bottom of the tub. Now he loves baths and it is his happiest time. He would stay for hours in the tub if we let him.

Identifying Your Child’s Triggers

Just like our experience with the bathtub you will need to be ready to see your child terrified over things that are simply not terrifying to the average kid. Foster children have been through the traumatic experience of being removed from their home. You don’t know what they have seen, smelled, or heard and because of that there is no way to predict what might cause them to become upset or fearful. It is your job as a foster parent to provide the stability they crave especially at this delicate age to create the resiliency they will need in the future. Take a deep breath when this happens, evaluate the situation, see if you can discover the triggers, and then decide from there how to work towards a solution.

Early Intervention

All states have early intervention programs for children 3 and under. As a foster child your baby will be evaluated to see if they meet the program criteria for kids with developmental disabilities. These programs are wonderful because the therapist comes to your home. The only downside is they can take months to get a therapist actually into your home to start treatment. If you and your pediatrician are sure your child needs physical or occupational therapy you can go to any therapist that will accept your child’s medical insurance for an evaluation. We had our child in both physical and occupational therapy within the first few weeks of placement.

Family Visits

The goal of fostering is to get your baby reunified with their family. Keep in mind your child will have visits starting within in the first week of placement. It will be helpful to pack a bag that can be taken with your child when they are transported to a family visit. Think of things that will make the visit more pleasant for both the parents and baby. A fun book for mom to read aloud, a blanket to cuddle with, an extra outfit in case of a diaper blowout, and if it is ok with your child’s case manger maybe a note to say hello and let them know how their child is doing in your care. When getting your little one ready for visits with mom and dad here are several suggestions for what to pack.

  • Ready to use formula with bottle nipple
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Extra Outfit
  • Blanket
  • Pacifier
  • Toys
  • Book
  • Note for parents (be sure to check with case manger if this is allowed)

Be a Team Player

Be kind and gracious to all those who are entering your home. Remember you are all on the same team and trying to give this little person the best chance at being reunited with their family. If someone is coming over during lunch time offer lunch to be provided. Pray for everyone involved in your child’s case. I don’t think Josh and I realized how much we would come to love all the people who entered our home during this process. This may not be the experience you have but you can still show Christ love by being kind and hospitable.

I have been blown away seeing how Jesus has changed my heart and mind and I am so glad I stepped out in faith when I felt convicted by the Lord in this area. Becoming a foster parent is a huge gift that you can give a family. It can radically alter, not just a child’s life but an entire family by giving the parents a chance to get the services they need to get their child home.


The Phone Call

Bathtime can get a little hectic in our house with 3 kids under the age of 5. On this typical evening in our household the kids were splashing away in the tub singing, laughing, and getting louder and louder by the minute when Josh’s phone began to ring. My curiosity was instantly piqued. We had been waiting for a phone call for our first foster placement and I couldn’t follow him around the house while he walked and talked like I normally would because I needed to stay with the kids in the tub.

Minutes later he came back into the bathroom and told me that we had received a phone call from our agency worker about a baby in need of a foster home. After that first call Josh and I tagged team bathing the kids and as we made several more phone calls back and forth between myself, Josh, our agency worker, and the Department of Child Safety. In less than 10 minutes we had a plan in place to pick up the baby in the morning.

The limited details we had were heartbreaking. I clung to Josh outside the bathroom door trying to put a coherent thought together and tears started streaming down my face. Everything about this child was the complete opposite of what we had expected. I started second guessing myself and wondering if I could do this. Could I take care of a baby whose health was so compromised and faced so many unknowns?

I picked my 14 month old up out of the bathtub wrapped him in a warm cozy towel and my tears dropped down on his blonde hair as I breathed in his clean baby freshness. Many thoughts swirled around in my head at that moment but I knew saying yes to that phone call wasn’t just me saying yes to a child but me being obedient to the Lord and what he was asking our family to do.

And it was in that moment that I knew I had to completely surrender, yet again, my ideals and expectations. Up until this point Josh and I being foster parents had been something that would happen in the future. Now the clock was quickly ticking to the time when we would get to meet this little person and welcome them into our family. I felt somewhere between throwing up and obsessively cleaning to release my bundle of nerves after all the kids were in bed but I knew that saying yes was the best choice.