Stepping into (Foster) Fatherhood
Last Sunday was my first Father’s Day, and it brought me to consider the moment parenting begins for foster parents. Our preparation time is often limited, and far shorter than a nine month pregnancy. In fact, it can sometimes be a text like the one pictured above that arrives during the work day, and is sent with the same commonality as asking a friend out to dinner. This is a text from seven months ago that expanded our household by two children who are with us to this day.
Each child’s situation carries with it a unique path. I have learned to accept that the kids that come into our home may be calling me Peter one day, Daddy the next, and in a few years, I may potentially be just somebody they once knew. Regardless, during this temporary time, I am a father figure to them, and I try my best to live up to the responsibility of that title.
As a foster parent, you enter a child’s life at a fragile inflection point. You enter parenthood without an on-ramp of shared experiences, requiring you to work as hard as you can to develop a bond with a child that is in a broken situation. Despite the limited information you know about the child(ren) and their situation, accepting a new placement should be thoughtfully and prayerfully considered.
My wife and I have found a three question protocol helps guide our decision as to whether or not to say yes. We start from our heart, provide space for reservations and concerns, and then loop back to our next steps.
- What is your heart reaction?
- Do you have any reservations?
- What would you like to do?
These questions allow us to voice our unfiltered perspective with each other. Nearly every time, our answer to the last question is a simple act that can advance the conversation ever so slightly. It is the next step that we are both willing to take together. This could be; “call DCF back and ask about this concern,” or “call DCF and ask when they need to know by”. Sometimes, we have the luxury of a few days to decide and think things through — other days, we have mere minutes.
The way I earn my title of “dad” is undoubtedly different than most. But, no matter the means to which we became parents, we must wholeheartedly ask God to fulfill His purposes in their lives, not our purposes for them.
If you are reading this and feel compelled to move forward in your journey, I encourage you to take that initial step. Our first act to become a foster family was when we decided to pick up the phone and call 1–888–543–4376 (KIDHERO) to inquire about an upcoming Open House . At the time, we knew little more than the basic concept of foster care. We were not experts, and still aren’t, but we decided that we were ready — and willing — to learn more. Becoming a foster parent is all about your willingness to take the next step forward, and to lean into the unknown.
You can also learn more about the process by visiting this website. For Connecticut specific information you can learn more here. And, of course, you can always reach out directly to us to learn more about our journey.
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