So some of you out there who are new to foster care, or even just considering it, might be wondering how you decide what kind of placement to take. Honestly, it often depends on your comfort zone, your experience and your available space. But there is so much more that can play into a decision…things that you never anticipated and that which may lead to a better fit than you ever imagined.
Honestly, when we began our foster care journey, we wanted to foster teens. We had both worked in high school ministry and knew what a joy and delight teens could be. Often, they get a bad rap, but they are lots of fun…plus we knew there was a huge need for homes to take in teenagers; by the way, in case anyone is curious, there is STILL a huge need for homes willing to take in teenagers.
But personally, we knew that our biological boys were just entering the teen years, and we did not want to bring in kids that would change the birth order. I know to some of you that seems silly, and many people mix up the birth order and it’s not a problem, but that was our personal preference.
Additionally, at the same time, I had had seven years of experience working in preschool and felt very comfortable with that age range as well. So, when we initially said we would take two children that were between 2 to 4 years old, that was going to be my jam for sure. Plus this also guaranteed that we wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with taking them to school, at least initially, and it seemed the best fit for our family.
And that was how we kind of set our parameters at the outset. For a variety of reasons, other families would never ever want a preschooler…they’d only want school-age. Or only want an infant.
As an aside, we knew for a fact we did NOT want an infant.
We kind of like our sleep so we did wave to introduce that kind of crazy train into the house. However, once we saw how long we were waiting and decided to open up our parameters a little bit, instead of going older, we went younger…and ended up with a three-month-old.
Much to our delight he slept through the night, but since he was failure to thrive and needed to eat every three hours, we had to set alarms so that we would wake up and feed him on schedule…feedings which took an hour each and which he slept through. So at least HE was well-rested.
I jest (kind of), but seriously…even though we could not see it at the time, once we got into a routine, he was a really great fit into our family…and that was completely unexpected. My older boys were homeschooling, and were old enough to be given their work and the opportunity to work independently; very little spoon-feeding of the work on my part, if for no other reason because I did not have time.
And it ended up being a blessing for all of us, because the older boys were so much better prepared for high school and college than they may have been otherwise.
So, my point in telling you all this is that you can have it in your head what would be a great fit, and you might very well be right. But there are other possibilities that might fit really well also, especially ones you would never even consider.
On paper, a medically fragile, failure-to-thrive infant did not look like he would mesh well into our family. But little did we know that we were completely wrong.
So have your parameters, have your vision, your goal, and your idea of what the perfect placement would be, but when presented with something outside of that, try to not immediately dismiss it. Consider giving it a go, because you just never know where it could lead you.