Why I Am Not Accepting New Placements and Don't Feel Guilty About It
If you've been following our journey, you know that my husband and I took in my former student and her siblings only 5 months after getting married. Shortly after, we got licensed for foster care and have had a revolving door of kids (young and old) that we've been privileged to care for ever since.
We've never had more than a week without kids in our home and we have loved being able to serve these babies so so much! It's been a pillar of our lives and a staple in our family.
During the pandemic, I became more in tune with myself, my body, and my partner. We leaned into our dreams and passions and began to take on hobbies that we didn't have time for previously. My husband became more invested into his business and I applied for an Assistant Principal job that I later accepted :) Controversially, the pandemic made opening our home to more children difficult because our community was limited and there were no options for respite. Our kids had to stay home for distance learning, so the trauma that they had coupled with learning difficulties led to second-hand trauma that I could not escape. We all were in therapy, but it was at home, with little opportunity for space - hence, not effective.
One Tuesday afternoon, I had just finished feeding my baby boy. I placed him on my lap and turned the TV to Grey's Anatomy collapsing into the couch as Mocha fell asleep in my arms. DJ sat at the dining room table, headphones in, head nodding to the beat without pause. There was an easiness that I hadn't experienced before. After the show ended, I joined DJ at the table and with honest eyes I said, "I think I want to be done as a foster parent." Indicating that this was something I've said to him before, I emphasized "For real this time. I'm tired" My husband took my hand and said, "Me too, seriously! I want to focus on the family we have now. I think our calling is still to foster care, but maybe it should look different." I affirmed his sentiments.
Shortly after this, we welcomed home a pre-adoptive placement, my Moon Child (longer story coming soon). We pursued the placement with the understanding that this is it for us.
The part of all of this that I love most, is that no guilt lives in this decision. God didn't call us to saviorism. That's His job. Instead, He led us to do our part, to be His hands and feet to the children we could say "yes" to and we did just that. We will still advocate, provide resources to foster children and families, and walk alongside our foster community. We have the highest regard for foster youth, adoptees, and birth families and we are not ending this part of our journey scarred or burnt out.
One misconception about foster care is that once you jump in you have to care for every child that you hear about and you have to be available to meet everyone's needs. That isn't the case at all. Its imperative to know your capacity so that you can care for the children that you have well. For some, that looks like a house full, but for us that has looked liked 1-2 kids at a time. Our journey has included 16 beautiful kids in 3.5 life-changing years and I'm thankful that we were chosen to care for them, but now it's your turn (lol just kidding, but also for real). We need more people/families to step up so that others can tap out when they are at capacity.
In this transition, I'll hold on to the memories:
- gifting my first placement (a 15-year-old very shy boy) a keyboard to pursue his music
- taking my girls for their first salon hair appointment
- dance parties in the kitchen after homework
- all of the homework
- holding kids after bedtime while singing songs of worship as they cry for their mommies...
It will look like selling my way-to-big for a fam of four home, providing respite for foster families in my community, contributing to other Amazon Welcome Lists instead of creating my own, reconnecting with former foster teens and supporting them post graduation, supporting my hubs as he pours into his business which will cause systemic change in foster care, and focusing on completing my principal certificate.
So here is to a new chapter for #brownsugarlove. The foster care and adoption community will always be a part of my life, but it's going to look different and I am okay with that. I'm excited to see what happens as we invest in the family* that we have now and I'm here to help you if you're wondering how to take this torch that I am passing.
*We will still foster the children in our home until adoption, reunification, or their cases close. We will not be accepting new placements.