Many people’s mental image of adoption involves getting infants from orphanages in far-off countries. While this is the right option for some people, there are also many children who need homes right here. After reading this article, one may decide to open their doors to some kids! Some parents choose to foster to adopt, and others are just providing a temporary home along a child’s journey. Either way, these parents provide love and care to the children who most need it.
There are a lot of stereotypes about foster care and the children in it. This article will show the flip side of things; the beautiful side, where human connection and selfless love are the stars of the show. These are real moms who find fostering wonderful, even when it’s challenging. Don’t think, “I could never be like them.” Foster parents aren’t superheroes born with more love in their hearts than the average person. They are just people who made a choice. The extra love in their hearts is the result of that choice, not the cause!
Here are 15 parents' and 5 siblings' stories of loving fostering and adopting society's most vulnerable children.
20 Rock And Roll Mama
Jillian Lauren gained fame from her memoirs which detail her colorful past (such as her time in a harem in Brunei) and is married to Weezer bassist, Scott Shriner. But these days, she’s known best as an unconventional mom, and a spokesperson for foster care and adoption. She and Scott have two sons, both of whom they adopted after first fostering them. The couple has fostered other children as well.
On her blog, where Lauren provides readers with resources, advice, and support for parents of adopted children, she says, “I hear a lot of doubts and resistance toward the idea of getting involved in the foster care crisis in this country. It’s hard. It’s a time commitment. It’s sad. There’s loss involved.
There are hurt kids involved and it’s a tough reality to face.
It may be painful. You might cry. All those things are true.
It’s also true that it’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve done, and I’m stronger and more hopeful than ever for it. I look forward to finding new ways to get involved.”
19 A Long And Rewarding Road To Adoption
Kristen Howerton’s blog, Rage Against the Minivan, can be as witty as its name suggests, but it can also be emotionally moving. At other times, it's full of great information and resources. Kristen and her husband have four children, two of whom were adopted, and two of whom she gave birth to. Her son, Jafta, came to her family through the foster system, and she wrote about the uncertainty during that time. When you try to adopt through the foster system, it can feel like a very slow process. The biological relatives have a period of time where they can change their mind and take the child back, as long as they are able to provide a safe home for the child. In this family’s case, it took three years for their adoption to be finalized, but when it was, the jubilation was real. She was realistic about the difficulty of that time of uncertainty, but in the end, “somehow, day by day, we got through it, and Jafta has been a gift worth waiting for. He teaches me daily with his ability to be in the moment, find the joy in small things, and live life with a zeal and energy that is inspiring (and yes, occasionally exhausting). Jafta, YOU ARE LOVED.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying! (Okay, we’re all crying) Happy tears.
18 Sandra Bullock – Not Just In Movies!
Everyone remember’s Sandra Bullock’s portrayal of an adoptive mother in the hit movie The Blind Side, but what not everyone realizes is that she plays that role in real life as well. She has adopted two children, Louis and Laila.
Since they joined her family, she has begun using her fame as a platform to advocate for adoption and foster care.
Here’s how she describes her children: “Lou is super sensitive. I call him my 78-year-old son. He’s wise and kind. I saw that when they handed him to me. There was a spiritual bigness to him. I was like, 'I hope I don’t eff that up.' And Laila is just unafraid. She’s a fighter, and that’s the reason she’s here today. She fought to keep her spirit intact. Oh my god, what she is going to accomplish. She’s going to bring some real change.”
What a beautiful description of a beautiful family!
17 The Therapist And The Artist
A foster mom who calls herself “The Therapist,” and her partner “The Artist” run a blog called fostermoms.com. They've written about why they value fostering for the sake of fostering, rather than adopting. (Note: because of laws surrounding foster parenting, parents are often extra careful about what they share online, which is why they have code names for themselves and their children). This mom says, “We wanted to give them a home with everyday parents at a time when they needed it, and then work with their whole team to get them back into their own home or help them transition to whatever the next step was. We are about family preservation and doing our part to help keep families together.”
So if you don’t feel like you can commit to adopting, don’t feel like you’re a failure. Temporary foster homes are crucial too, and this mom gives a great explanation of why she values this experience.
16 23 Children (And No, They’re Not Duggars!)
The amazing couple who run the blog, Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, have eight children, all adopted, some of whom are now parents themselves! During their nine years as foster parents, the couple took care of 23 children (not all at once!) They also run a podcast (The Honestly Adoption Podcast) about their experiences, with episode titles like, “Children in Foster Care Are Dearly Loved!”
Mom Kristin offers this advice, “It seems to boil down to this: the success of fostering and adoption is not so much about being capable, rather being adaptable.
We cannot expect a kid from a hard place to adapt to our life.
We have to adapt to theirs.”
Her husband Mike describes their first glimpse of two of their sons this way: “We looked at the pictures the case manager passed around and without even knowing them, or having met them, we just knew - 'Those little boys are our sons!' It was meant to be.”
15 A Surprising Sentiment
Allie, who runs the blog, My Real Kid, where she discusses her family’s journey with transracial adoption, had something new to say about infertility.
“I am truly and deeply grateful for my inability to have a biological child. Had I had an easy time getting pregnant, I would never have met my son. I would be missing out on so much right now. I am sure I would have loved a biological child, but I would not have MY child. This child, this beautiful boy right here. This little boy who I am more in love with than anything else on the entire planet and in the whole history of the world.”
I think that this idea is very powerful, and could be helpful for others who are struggling with infertility to read. Whether or not you believe that “everything happens for a reason,” this perspective is a great way to make the most of your life and love.
14 What Foster Care Teaches Your Other Kids
Maralee Bradley has had a wide range of experiences during her motherhood journey, considering that she has been a foster parent, a biological parent, and also gained a child through international adoption. Basically, she’s done it all. And she has advice for people who think that all these different things won’t blend well into one happy family.
On her blog, amusingmaralee.com, she explains what she says to people who are considering foster care, but worry that it could have a negative impact on their current children. Maralee shuts down that line of thought, saying, “It’s going to broaden their understanding of the world…
It’s going to help them think through difficult questions and develop empathy for those it’s easy to hate.
It’s going to make them compassionate and thoughtful when other kids their age are self-centered and oblivious.”
Foster care isn’t just for people who can’t have children of their own. Plus, it can make your biological kids wiser and kinder than they might otherwise be.
13 Not A Sacrifice
On the blog, Heart Cries, mama Rebekah echoes a sentiment that I hear from many foster parents: “It's easy for our efforts to be mistaken as sacrifice, but the truth? The return on our time and love far surpasses the moments we give.”
They don’t want to be considered as saviors or super-humans. They are just parents who love their children and are trying their best, just like any other parent.
Rebekah’s blog is unique for her openness in discussing her relationship with the birth parents of her adopted children, so check it out if you’re curious about that!
12 “Just” A Foster Mom
Mother of four, Jamie, explains on her blog, Foster the Family, why she’s never going to stop fostering: “We’re done having children. We’re done adopting children. But we’re not done opening our home to children. We still have a little bit of room in our home, and a lot of room in our hearts.”
She explains that while her family is happy with the children they already, she never wants to stop fostering.
She also loves connecting the children that she fosters with their future adoptive parents, which sounds like a beautiful experience.
It’s important to know your limits and your family’s limits, and then decide what you are capable and how you can best help.
11 Bittersweet Blossoming
Adoptive mother, Traci, and her husband, Richard, also decided to keep fostering after they decided they wouldn’t be able to adopt more children. Traci acknowledges that this temporary situation can be painful, saying, "There is no way to love these kids fully and completely without the sense of loss when they leave."
However, she also explains why it is so beautiful to be a foster parent. "It is a gift to us when we see a child who is afraid of everything begin to understand that they are safe in our home... In a short time, you watch them blossom. They become more comfortable and confident. Most importantly, they get to be kids again!" This family is featured on the Success Stories page of A Family for Every Child, along with many others.
10 Wise Fatherly Advice
For those who feel like they can never do enough, the wise words of adoptive papa, Jason Johnson, will go straight to your heart. “You can never overestimate the importance of making a difference for one. The ripple effects run deep, reverberate wide and reveal themselves not just in the impact we can have on that one, but also in the impact that one, in turn, can have on others - today, tomorrow and for generations to come…
There’s no 'just' or 'only' in what you are doing.
You haven’t 'just' fostered a few or 'only' adopted one. Rather, you have significantly altered the trajectory of a life forever.”
As a father, his blog, jasonjohnsonblog.com, is unique, since most foster and adoption blogs are written by moms. He gives advice for prospective foster dads since his wife felt “ready” to foster before he did.
9 This Beautiful Creation
Mama Penelope from Foster2Forever has adopted several of the children she’s fostered and she loved the experience. “We have been so blessed as foster parents to have such beautiful, wonderful foster children! It has been 'pure joy' to open our home to neglected children.”
She also acknowledges the pain of saying goodbye when a foster child is claimed by a relative, but part of becoming a foster parent is committing to keeping families together when possible.
She said, “I don’t blame anyone. I can totally understand why someone would want this beautiful creation,” while talking about an infant she hadn’t expected to say goodbye to.
8 Stare If You Must!
The couple who runs StareIfYouMust.blogspot.com show their authenticity and sense of humor right there in the name of their blog. They have both fostered and adopted many children, and they know that some people see their family and don’t know what to think! In one post from May 2015, they describe a surprise that occurred once they adopted two girls they’d been fostering. Both sisters had been having behavioral issues such as tantrums, but things really turned around when the adoption was finalized.
“Emma seemed oblivious to the adoption. Not too long ago we were discussing the upcoming adoption and she said that she thought that she was already adopted. We didn't expect that the adoption would have a big impact on her. However... Her reaction to the adoption was immediate. She has started to seek me out. She wants to sit next to me and read to me. She wants me to do her hair, help put on her shoes, help her with her swimsuit...things she has always done for herself. We didn't expect this. It is so apparent that everyone in the house sees the change. It was so unexpected. A good unexpected and I am loving it!”
7 Life Got Real
Shivonne and Pat’s story started here, “Soon after our wedding, my husband and I wanted to try for a baby. Three causes of infertility and two broken hearts later, we realized that it wasn't going to happen.
We prayed, we discussed, and we eventually signed up to be foster parents.
Little did we know that we were going be given siblings right off the bat! Cameron, 6, and Taylor, 4, came into our home and life got real!”
Since then, the couple has fostered other children as well as, to their surprise, having a biological child of their own. Their blog features great resources, such as dealing with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and delayed reading ability, as well as other issues common to fostered and adopted children. They write at mommyhoodsfs.com.
6 From Hair-Pulling To Pure Joy
Sarah Harmeyer describes her life like this: “Pure joy. There are moments like that in foster care. Moments your heart bursts with love and fullness. Moments the smile just won’t leave your face.”
She also talks about the challenges she’s had with children, but explains, “So, why do I share this? For those of you at the beginning of your journey who have tears in your eyes, are pulling out your hair, and are contemplating giving up, sit back and remember. If you didn’t have someone who loved you no matter what choices you made, you wouldn’t be who you are today.”
You can find more of Sarah’s thoughts at parentsoffostercare.com.
5 A Surprisingly Strong Teen
A 16-year-old girl whose parents have been fostering for four years says,
“I guess I found out that I’m stronger than I thought; even though it was hard to say goodbye it didn’t stop me from wanting to say yes to the next kid.”
Her favorite part about being a foster sister is “Just being a sister to them… playing with them, holding them, and doing everyday life with them.” This caring teen has already decided that she wants to adopt when she grows up. You can find her story at droppinganchorsblog.com.
4 From Foster Sister To Agency Employee
Kylee’s family started fostering children when she was eight years old. Now, she is a young adult who has graduated from college and started working in an adoption agency. “There was so much love. I truly believe I am able to love just a little bit deeper and show just a little bit more compassion because of growing up so closely with the oppressed. The kids that came through our home ignited this passion in me, and they are the reason I now hold a degree in social work and will continue fighting for the safety of all children.” Kylee’s childhood, which she shared with siblings both permanent and temporary, helped her to find her own career path.
3 Convincing Her Parents To Foster!
Maralee, whose blog was featured earlier in this article, interviewed a young woman named Karen.
Karen’s experience is unique in that she and her siblings convinced their parents to start fostering, rather than the other way around.
Much like Kylee, Karen’s career influenced by her family’s choice to foster.
“Since the age of 3, I had wanted to be a doctor… but at 19, about 4 months after we welcomed that first baby girl into our home, my plans changed. I’m now pursuing a Social Work degree and plan to work in Child Welfare.” She also plans to foster when she’s older, although she acknowledges that it’s not the right choice for every family.
2 A Happy Hobby-Sharer
Eight-year-old Jacob wrote a letter to FosteringPerspectives.com explaining what he likes about being a foster brother. “My parents have been foster parents since I was a baby. I have had some really good times with the foster children who have lived with us. I have a lot of fun playing with the boy who lives with us now; he is 8 years old, like me. When he first moved in he was scared and missed his mommy. I showed him around his new school and helped him make friends.”
He also has good memories of the previous children who have stayed with his family and likes that during the short times they shared together, they get to teach each other about their interests and hobbies.
1 Adorable Four-Year-Old Foster Brother
Some people think it’s always a bad idea to take in a child who is older than the kids you currently have. This is known as “respecting birth order.” But another little boy who is also named Jacob would disagree. His parents started fostering an older girl, and this is what he had to say about it, “It’s good having a big sister. The first day she came I loved her. She helps me brush my teeth. She loves me and thinks I’m cute. I like having her in my family. I love her very much. She’s the best in the world.” Precious!
I think we often underestimate what our young kids are ready for and capable of.
In this case, Jacob is capable of being a great and loving little brother!
References: fostermoms.com, og.com, afamilyforeverychild.org, foster2forever.com