By Lindy Teetsel
Foster care has always been near and dear to our hearts. As an educator of 9 years, I have had many students who were directly affected by foster care and my husband actually aged out of the foster care system in Ohio. When we began trying to grow our family, we were faced with years of infertility. At the time, I was angry and resentful. Ever since I was little, all I wanted to be was a mom. I couldn’t understand at the time why God wasn’t answering my prayers. I now know it was because He had another plan in store for us.
We began the licensing process in October of 2019. After a lot of classes, paperwork, and interviews, we were finally licensed as a foster-to-adopt family, meaning we understood that the primary goal of foster care is reunification, however, in the event that reunification is not possible, we were willing to adopt.
After we received our license we waited for the call. We were ready to help for however long was needed, whether the child would be with us for 3 days, 3 months, or forever. After several days we had not received any calls. It seemed odd because we knew there had to be kids out there that needed us. During this time, my grandmother’s health had severally declined. All the medical staff kept saying she would be passing any day but she hung on. No one understood why.
On March 16th, I received the call saying my grandmother had passed away. We knew it was her time and found joy in knowing she was no longer in pain. Everyone was so surprised she had hung on so long. Less than an hour later we got the call about our daughters. I like to think that my grandmother helped bring these sweet girls to me.
Over the next month, we were able to meet the girls and provide respite for their current placement. At the time, the girls had just turned 2, 3, and 4. It was overwhelming but my husband and I loved them already. Shortly after that, they were placed us.
The first week was a huge adjustment for everyone. We went from having zero children, a spotless house, a completely free schedule and sleeping through the night, to juggling 3 kids, a house that looked like a zoo, running back and forth to appointments and living on caffeine and prayers. My husband would often joke and remind me that every girl in the house (including me the dog and I) had cried that day.
But the days got easier. We bonded as a family more and more each day. We worked through big feelings, explored new places, practiced giving grace, and so much more. We learned it truly does take a village to raise children and we cannot thank our village enough for all the love and support you have shown us.
If you are interested in “Being the Village” for youth in foster care, there are many ways you can help. First and foremost, I highly suggest educating yourself in Trauma Informed Care practices. These wonderful kiddos have experienced so much trauma in their little lives that their brains now process differently. It’s our job to be the calm to their storm. You can also become a licensed foster parent, respite provider, or baby sitter. You can contact local foster organizations and see what donations are needed, sponsor their back-to-school shopping, or even donate gift cards. If you know a foster family and would like to provide help to them, offer to drop off dinner or a gift card for a family outing so they can bond with new placements and make memories together. Have a gently used suitcase? Donate it to a local foster closet. No child deserves to carry their belongings in a trash bag. For more ways to help youth in foster care, contact your local foster care agencies and foster closets.
Party of Five
By Lindy Teetsel