Christina & Chris were searching for a way to grow their family, as traditional means were not an option for the couple. Eleven years ago, while at their church’s rummage sale, Christina started a conversation with a woman who happened to work for Children’s Bureau. That conversation turned out to be a life-changing experience. Christina attended an information meeting the very next Saturday and by the end of that discussion, Christina knew that she and her husband were in the right place. Christina says that providing a safe and nurturing family to children was exactly what they were supposed to do. Read about their foster journey and ultimate adoption of two of those children.
CB: Tell me about your experience with Children’s Bureau.
I have always been so appreciative of the support that CB has given us. I tend to be a bit of a worrier sometimes. Every person I have had the pleasure to work with at CB has been so kind and supportive. In the beginning I would worry that our house wasn’t enough. Or that our income wasn’t enough. That our lifestyle and work made our time not enough. With some reassurance from CB I quickly realized WE were enough. A giant fancy house doesn’t make a home. The people living inside it do. Every worry I had about not being good enough was and continues to be eased by the friendly and supportive CB family.
CB: What was the process of becoming resource parents and how long did it take?
Once we got started the approval process happened rather quickly. We were very motivated and got all requested documents submitted as quickly as we could. Start to finish, it took us about three months to become approved as a resource family. The pre-approval trainings did a great job in preparing us for many of the challenges that we would encounter, as well as giving us a view of what the court process could look like. Many of the people we met during the trainings, family assessment and approval process have become an important part of our lives.
CB: What inspired you to become resource parents and how has it changed your life?
When we first came to the Children’s Bureau, our desire was to foster-adopt a child into our family. We had tried every medical way to have a child with no positive outcome. We looked into both domestic and international adoption. We even started the process with one country, but when that went bad, we realized this, too, was not the path for us. With so many doors closing in our faces we realized we needed to let go and look at the path being set before us. Once we learned about fostering and the foster-to-adopt process, we knew that this was what we were supposed to be doing. The more we learned, the more we were sure. When that very first baby was put into my arms, I knew my purpose was to love and protect her for as long as she needed me. As it turned out, 12 months later, that baby would officially become my daughter. Our experience with her only deepened my faith knowing that this was what we were meant to be doing. Shortly after, we welcomed another child into our home and the doors have remained open ever since. I had no idea the amount of love my heart could hold unconditionally for every child that we have welcomed into our family. Whether for a couple of days or for a lifetime. Our first child and our eighth child were to become ours through foster-adoption. If you had asked me 11 years ago if this is what my life would look like, I would have answered, only in a dream. Every day brings new challenges and even greater blessings.
CB: How has the organization helped you on your journey?
Children’s Bureau has become such an important part of our lives. They have a tremendous support system in
place. The trainings, support groups, mentoring, and social gatherings are just a few of the ways they take care of their resource families. No question is too great or small. Two years after adopting our eldest daughter, we encountered some developmental challenges and did not know where to turn. So, of course, Children’s Bureau was my first call. They were instrumental in leading us in the right direction to get her the support she needed. I will be forever grateful to CB for allowing us to be part of their family.
CB: What were the birth parents like and how much contact do you have with them?
Of the 13 children we have had the honor to have join our family , nearly every experience I have had with birth parents has been a positive one. Whenever possible, I monitor family time. This helps form a relationship with the birth parents beyond phone calls and texts. We try to be as appropriately supportive as possible in their journey towards reunification as we can. Many times, they are simply scared and feel like the world is against them. The reality is that at the end of the day we all want the same thing for these kids. For them to be safe, healthy, happy, and feel loved. Working together is the best way for this to happen.
CB: How have you helped the children transition back to their families? What was that like for you?
We have transitioned kids to family members, to adoptive families, and back to their birth parents. It is a special feeling to know you have helped reunite a family and see them become whole again. Working closely with the child’s birth parents is a vital component to a smooth transition. With our most recent one to return home, we spent several weeks making sure his transition would be as easy as possible. After having been with our family for 14 months, we did not want him to feel like we were pushing him out or abandoning him. We have maintained close contact with him and his family. And for this, he has adjusted back into his family life with ease knowing he is loved by both his family and ours. We continue to have both close and distant relationships with several of the kiddos that have graced our family. It is a healthy relationship for the kids as well as my own family. Our girls always look forward to the times when we get to visit with kids that have lived with us. They have a remarkable respect and understanding for what we do. They are proud to be part of a Foster Resource Family. I feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment knowing I have given a child all that I could, for as long as they have needed me. That I have made sure they know how much they are loved and valued. And that they are going to be safe and loved where they are going.
CB: How did you manage your and other family members feelings when a child goes to live with another family?
Simply said, we knew what we were signing up for. We knew that there would be tough goodbyes and grieving
children that transition out of our house. Both of our girls are adopted through foster care. Even at their young ages they understand that our babies have families that love them and that we are here to keep them safe and loved until it is their time to go home. We keep our lines of communication open and talk with them frequently about their feelings about us being a foster resource family. If they ever were to tell us that they don’t want to do this anymore, then we would respect that. Our extended family has always been very supportive of our decision to be a resource family and have welcomed every child as a new member of the family.
CB: What challenges have you faced as resource parents and what have you learned?
This is a tough question. As a new resource parent, everything can seem challenging. Navigating the court
requests, multiple appointments, assessments, therapies, family time visits, household scheduling, and self-care, takes effort. I learned a whole new meaning to being organized. Color-coded calendars are key. I reached a whole new level of understanding about what it means to be flexible, and how important that flexibility is. I feel like nearly 11 years later, I am finally starting to get it.
CB: What advice would you give other parents who are considering becoming resource parents to foster or
Have patience and understanding. With the beautiful children who have already experienced so much and simply
need the love and acceptance they deserve. With the birth parents who are feeling just as lost. With the system that
is overworked and doing what it can to help these kids. Fostering has been an extraordinary journey. Every day is an
adventure that presents new challenges and opportunities. Be open to the adventure. Every child that has come to our family has had a profound impact on me. I just hope that I have been able to give them something to carry with them through their lives.
CB: Anything else you would like to say?
I just pray that anything I have shared has impacted even one person, eased their mind, or given them some hope.
This is a most incredible journey that I am honored to take. I cannot think of any other path that I would want to be on, and I am truly humbled to have been chosen to be on it.