We met on a sunny day in 2017 - it was June and the weather was warm and the sun was high. Our conversations of foster care began quickly, within the first few dates we dreamed of a distant future loving children, who were not born of us. We agreed that blood did not make a family, but love did. We had an added bonus of being exposed to foster care via family members early in our lives - Matthew and I agree that our formative experiences influenced our passion for children in care. Matthew’s parents opened their home as a foster family when Matthew was in his early teens, and my niece lived with my mother via kinship placement in my own early teen years. Because of these experiences, we had mutual feelings of passion for being foster parents and helping children in our community.
We dreamed of the children we would come to know until we became licensed in early 2023. And, as all of the best stories go, our lives were changed forever! Our lives were suddenly filled with calendar events for doctors’ appointments, conversations with counselors, and scheduling family outings to encourage connection between kids and parents. To the outside world, we looked more or less like a nuclear family, but within the walls of our home we spent the first few months just getting to know each other. We had many conversations - some deep and meaningful, some silly and light, and some right there in the middle. We memorized favorite colors, birthdays, worst fears, and moments that our children tried their best to forget. I remember quizzing myself on our current kids’ names and ages a week before they came to our home, so I wouldn’t get them confused with each other. Matthew and I studied any intake form we could find to make them feel welcome and at home.
One thing that we didn’t anticipate was the responsibility of how quickly children and teens would grow through clothes and shoes. Our younger foster daughter came to us wearing one size and within a week or two her jeans were suddenly high waters. Amongst the challenge of getting to know each other as family when we were strangers a few days before we were searching for clothes and shoes for our kids to wear… And then a friend at church mentioned a resource named P.S. I Love You. Matthew signed us up for an appointment and, in all honesty, we weren’t sure what to expect. At the time of our first visit we were just so relieved that thinking about necessities like wearables was something that was as easy as making an appointment.
We were blown away when we walked through the door. Our family was greeted with compassion and understanding and our kids were given the freedom to choose a wardrobe that fit their personality and personal flair. In a time where everything in their lives was out of their control, the tangible act of choosing their own pairs of pants, socks, etc. meant the world to them (and to us). We were gifted hair products, clothes, shoes, toys, books, and even a ready-made dinner to stick in the oven. Everyone’s spirits were high when we walked out P.S. I Love You that day - we felt so seen and taken care of.
Since then, we have been back with our children for the season changes and we’ve plugged into a few community events as well. It is a gift to be surrounded by others who understand the complexities of your every day life as a foster family and who meet your needs in such an important way. Of course, foster care is filled with many ups and downs. We have lots of conversations with lots of people about the happenings in our lives and often seek wise counsel from Matthew’s family and other experienced parents when we don’t have answers for important questions. We try to remember to laugh a lot and look for ways to connect with each other often.
Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the everyday semantics of being a foster family and I can be especially quick to become overwhelmed by the paperwork of foster parenthood…But, having an organization like P.S. I Love You to lean on for the basics has been an incredible gift to us. It is a wonderful thing to have such tangible needs met with smiles. Being in the system, whether by being a family member, child, or parent, can be very stressful - but having a like minded community just down the road from us has brought us so much peace and offered many opportunities to create lasting connections.
We’re all on this crazy journey together!