I'm lucky enough to have befriended some awesome people recently who are getting licensed as foster parents. I remember those days. The long classes that make you equal parts heartbroken and burning with eagerness to make a difference. The superhuman bursts of productivity that spur you on to complete the mountain of paperwork (a level of productivity that has for me, never ever repeated itself). Your county or agency tells you it'll happen in June or in October or before Christmas and you, shiny eyed and brand new, believe them, and you cling to that date in your mind.
And then your paperwork gets lost. And then you forget to submit your bank statements. And then your background check gets delayed. The date you'll be licensed gets pushed further and further out and you start to feel defeated. Will it ever happen? If the need is really as great as everyone says, why aren't things moving more quickly?
I was licensed 5ish years ago, several months later than I'd been planning on. I was feeling all types of impatient about it, so convinced that the October timeline I was originally given just HAD to happen, and I completed my extra therapeutic training hours in an insanely short amount of time. Meanwhile, while I was obliviously being all extra about deadlines, two little boys' lives were spiraling out of control. While I was worried about the perfect timeline, a mama in crisis was worried about how she would keep the train of her family from derailing. And if one piece of paperwork had been submitted a day sooner, if one training class had been scheduled a week earlier, if any one variable had been even slightly different, I wouldn't have been the one to get the call for them that day. The phone call that changed everything.
Trust the process.
I'm lucky enough to get to network with people who are considering adopting in the future. It's one of my favorite things, to hear about people's dreams, to share about what I've learned from our crazy times in foster care and adoption land. Some of them are waiting to get to the point where they can begin the process of waiting child adoption, and they just cannot wait. They are so eager to give a child a stable place to land, so excited to implement everything they've learned, so pumped to become parents, or to become parents again.
And then their homestudy gets delayed or they're with the wrong kind of agency and have to switch or the state is taking forever to process their stuff. They thought they'd have their new child home by now, and they're still not even at the point where they can start the process of matching with him or her. They are wistful and sad. They can't wait to get that someday-child home. I know the feeling.
3 years ago today, I was trying to begin the process of looking for a waiting child in need of adoption. My foster loves were going home and it seemed like the perfect time, but I kept running into agency issues and home buying issues and various adulting issues, and the dream kept getting pushed back. And meanwhile, miles across the country, a certain little boy's foster care team was losing faith that they would ever find the right place for him. They were starting to think about group homes for when his elderly foster parent could no longer lift him out of bed. One more push, one more search, they decided. In a few months, we'll see if anyone has asked about the little boy with the wheelchair and the brightest smile, and if we get any inquiries we will try to start the process, no matter where in the country they're from. That little boy was Julian, and if any piece of paperwork or any housing hold up had processed even a tiny but quicker, I would've matched with another child, and missed out on the most special miracle boy. We were so close to not getting to be each other's forever. Thank GOD for every delay, every so-called "setback". I'm so thankful now for every single hiccup.
Trust the process.
I'm always honored when someone reaches out to me for encouragement about reunification. They know how strongly our family supports it and the beautiful experiences we've gotten to have with my first boys and their mama since they want home, and they need words of hope in times of uncertainty and loss. Reunification is the goal, but it can be so scary. Will they be safe? Is everyone telling me the truth? Is this really the right time? Have I loved them enough, done enough, advocated enough? I wish the team would wait until I felt it was safer, until I felt ready.
I'll tell you a secret: if you're loving them like you should be, you'll never, ever be ready.
3 years ago today, I was gearing up for a huge transition: my boys going home to their Mama forever. And man, I was outwardly supportive but inside I was kicking and screaming. Why now, right before Christmas? After over two years we couldn't wait a couple more months? Why now, when I had bought a new house that was perfect for them, did things have to change so drastically on me? Why did the long term plan I had envisioned disappear? Why did I have to accept and support something that was so hard for me, that felt so impossible to reconcile in my heart? What purpose did it serve? I'm ashamed to admit now that I prayed to any God I knew of to stop it, to change it, to keep those babies close to me.
Meanwhile, a student at my school, a young man that I knew pretty well, was struggling. Battling physical and mental wounds, he suffered alone, hiding what he was going through for fear of repercussions if he spoke out. In the dead of winter he walked through the snow with holes in the soles of his shoes. No Christmas was coming for him; he wasn't even sure he'd make it to tomorrow. He and I didn't know it yet, but in just a few weeks our worlds would collide, each changing the other's forever, the empty space in my life that felt at the time like a black hole of grief to me opening up to become his safe haven. A safe haven that wouldn't have been there for him if any little thing had gone differently during the reunification process with my other boys.
Trust the process.
If you are in a time of waiting in your foster care or adoption journey, just know that this time is not wasted. Your story is about to intersect with the stories of others, and I'm telling you: once you see where this story is going, you won't be able to put the book down, and you won't wish that it had been written any other way.
Every delay, every lost piece of paperwork, every part of the licensure process that has to be redone, every transition that doesn't feel right in the moment, is bringing you closer to that elusive time, the right time.
And then one day after it's all finished and you're ready and waiting very (im)patiently to be needed, you'll be wrapping up your workday, or getting ready to board your flight, or checking some emails before bed, and you'll get a call, and it will be THE call. The one that changes everything.
I'm not a religious girl (no shade if you are though) but I'm telling you: I don't know how, but this shit happens for a reason.
Everything that's unfolding right now, however slowly, is unfolding that way for a reason: so that you can be right there to take that call when they need you to.
Trust the process.
(Ahem but also send ALL the emails and make ALL the phone calls and don't be afraid to be a squeaky wheel throughout said process.)
To my boys: It was always you. Forever grateful that our broken roads intersected.