I just wanted to write a post (since May is National fostercare awareness month) and answer a couple of the common questions that we would have wanted to know when we decided to dive into this journey!
After our daughter Rochelle passed away, Shane and I knew that God was calling us to love other children the way we would have loved Rochelle. We knew that we had love to give, and knew that this was our calling that God was leading us to. We did not know one married couple (at the time) who had ever fostered a child (or even adopted) so we definitely had some fears going into this process!
I remember that we googled “foster care in Texas” and what showed up was the state agency in San Antonio, Texas and we knew we had to at least go to the class and find out more information!
The teacher scared us so much and it made us ask ourselves “do we really want to do this” or “can we handle this situation”? There were so many unanswered questions and I truly feel like God just gave us to the answer to say “yes”. Saying yes didn’t mean that we were able to handle all the trauma or have an answer to how Brielle would be affected by accepting a child with trauma into our home.. saying yes meant that we knew we could love another child unconditionally even though we knew that they would most likely have to leave our home. Saying yes meant that we could teach each child about God (even if they were only with us a short amount of time). Saying yes meant that we would pray over the parents that did wrong or made harsh mistakes that had their kid(s) taken away from them. It meant that we were solely depending on God to bring us through it all.
The training classes that we initially took in San Antonio were brutal (and broke us so hard hearing all of the sad stories) but so so worth it! Since the state agency was in no rush to get us to become a licensed home, we switched to another agency (Family Link–in Gonzales, Tx) and were licensed within a month of transferring over!
One common question is how often does reunification actually occur? For us, one child (of the 8 that we fostered) actually were reunified with mom and dad once leaving our house, but have now been removed from them once again. Parents actually don’t have a lot to get done during the time that their child(ren) are in care, so it should sound easy for them to return to them but the average time for the parents to get all their classes done and show proof that they have stayed drug-free is usually 6 months-1 year. What we have seen is that addiction is HARD and we pray for the biological parents all during the process (and even now) that they understand the beauty of what God had given them and that they let that addiction go and be able to love and provide for their child(ren) the way that they should. The main goal in fostercare is to reunify with mom and dad, but so often you see SO much time go by during the case before that is even possible.
Another question is how much do you get paid? Of course money is not why you should be called to do this, but it is part of the process, and does help provide financial aide to you. For basic level of care children (most children are) I believe that each child gets around $650 per month and for moderate level of care I believe it’s between $650-$1,000 a month. I am sure that different agencies follow different guidelines and the amount that foster parents get reimbursed (not sure if it’s the same rate throughout the state)but the money does not go unused. Each child brought to us had very minimal clothing so you have to think that buying them an entire wardrobe is a must, buying diaper/formula, food, and driving to therapy appts, counseling, doctors, and monthly visits with parents and siblings. It is definitely helpful to have during the process.
One of the most important questions regarding Brielle is how does she adjust to “letting go” of the children? Our answer to that is, she has to. We don’t sugarcoat anything with Brielle and we would give her advance warning (if it was given to us) that the child would be leaving our home and returning back to a family member or the parents. Brielle understands that we were there to take care of the child(ren) and to love on them and show them what it feel likes to have your needs met, be clean, and just be given unconditional love. Did it break our hearts when they left? Yes, but Shane and I both feel like Brielle grew up so much the past two years with 8 foster children coming in and out of our of house. The good thing is that three of them stayed and were able to be adopted and become Brielle’s forever sister and brothers.
Just know that even if God doesn’t call you to become a foster parent, there are ways to support other children/families that are in care.
-Meals (cook for the foster families without them having to ask you).
– Training (take some training so that you can babysit the children and let the foster parents have a night off or a weekend off).
-Just schedule a play date with the child(ren) that are in care.
-Just provide an ear (for both the foster parents and the kids and just listen to their struggles and see if their is a way that you are able to help them out).
-There are also ways to help out the agency (by donating gently used clothes or new toys, and more).
-Also if you would like an amazing podcast to listen to, head on over to Risen Motherhood and it will leave you inspired (especially the episode 99 on Foster care and the gospel).
Just remember, when God calls you to it, He will bring you through it.
I hope I was able to give you a little insight into why we chose to go this route and as always, feel free to reach out to me at any of my social media accounts or via email and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.