What have you done externally to your home and life to prepare for a child?
All the things you have to do. Locks on certain things, escape plans, fire extinguisher. We dedicated a room for our girls and bought new furniture and decorations to make it feel like theirs. We tried to do the bare minimum while keeping it comfortable so that they would have the agency to make the space their own. I will say that we chose NOT to change as much as we could. No locks on the refrigerator or cabinets, or anything like that. We very much wanted to ensure that it felt like they were coming into a home.
What have you done internally within yourself and your relationships to prepare for a child?
We made sure that we were in one accord moving into and through this process. We made decisions together, and decided on what our priorities would be as a team. However, probably not as much as we should have. Even with shared passion and perspective, it is hard. We probably should have been in counseling before, and probably should be signed up now – we aren’t. We probably should have done more to prepare our friends and family and setup our network better to support us. Who knows, though? Hindsight is always 20/20.
How does the foster care system make you feel?
Ugh. Not all bad, but ugh.
What else? What question didn’t we ask? What else is on the top of your mind?
One of the greatest needs in the foster care system is families that will take in teenagers, and teenagers know it.
When our girls came into our home they were shocked that they got placed so quickly because they understood that, “Nobody wants teenagers.” In their case, they spent very little time in the system and they still knew that. We would encourage anybody going into this work to consider teenagers. From the perceptions (everyone wants a baby) to the training (mostly focused on early developmental stages) it seems like the system is setup to avoid having people consider taking in teens.
That needs to change.
If you'd like to see the system changed because you want to change and welcome teenagers into your home, fill out this quick form below.