Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FWL Episode 01 - The Calm Before The Storm

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Hi. My name is Dan and I'm about to become a foster parent! Come along for the ride. My goal in creating this blog and podcast is to share my experiences so that others can get a glimpse of what it's like to be a foster parent. If you're thinking about becoming a foster parent, I hope this will be an encouragement and a tool for you in making your decision. Don't have time to read? Don't like to read? Download the mp3 and listen on your commute, listen with the player provided on this page as you read the blog post, or listen with others. Hopefully it will inspire some thoughts on foster parenting, or some great dialogue between you and your significant other. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about bringing foster children into our home, but I'm also very excited.

When my wife and I first started talking about becoming foster parents, I went to the web to try and find stories of foster parents and foster children. I wanted to know what their experiences were like so that I could get a picture of what it might be like. The fear of the unknown was looming over me. That little voice inside my head keeps whispering, "What are you getting yourself into? This won't be easy, just stick to what you're doing now." I combat that with the thought that even if I can impact one child's life in a positive way, help them learn to bond, give them hope, or just provide a safe place for them to grow, then isn't that so much better than being comfortable? It's not going to be easy, I love being comfortable. In fact I'd go so far as to say that an idol I struggle with is comfort. It's the American way, but it's not the biblical way. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I never like driving anywhere unless I know exactly how to get there. I love routine, knowing exactly what's coming. I never like attempting things unless I know I can succeed in them. I don't know how I'll do as a foster parent, but the only way to find out is to try. Still, it's very hard for me. Luckily my amazing wife is very much a doer, and she thrives in chaos and diving into things head first. She goes into situations with the confidence that she'll figure it out. I'm learning this confidence, and she's learning that sometimes it's better to stop and think about it before diving in head first. we make a good team.

I don't want fear to rule my life, I want God Almighty to. So rather than give into my fear that foster parenting will be scary and crazy, I'm going to say let's do this! After all, God can work best in me when I'm broken. Then I can get out of his way with my pride and fear and let him work through me. I hope that becoming a foster parent will help me to continue my ongoing quest to slay selfishness and fear in my life. Marriage and parenthood have already helped tremendously, but I could definitely use more in my life to help me with these goals. Living for comfort out of fear is not going to get me there. I give you this verse from the ESV translation of the bible, on I need to read continually.

James 2:2-11

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Awesome. God's word can speak to these issues so much better than I can. Now to address the idea behind the title of this first blog post and podcast episode. Although my wife and I have participated in a lot of training in the last few weeks, right now life is still pretty much the same as it's always been, and we're just waiting and wondering. Wondering what it will be like when we're in the thick of it. We've taken the P.R.I.D.E. training classes from two commendable ladies with a classroom full of other foster parents to be. We've had the home study done, giving our excellent foster care licenser our life story and letting her inspect our house. We've done an all day C.P.R. and First Aid training class at the hospital downtown. But we're still just waiting.

We've heard a lot of stories, but what is it really like on a day to day basis? With childcare, I think training and research are great tools, and can be very important, but a lot of it is truly learned in hands on situations. What will that be like? There was no instruction manual for our son when we brought him home from the hospital, and while there is much literature on how to handle children with different needs, every child is different. One book that stands out as a recommendation among foster parents I've heard about is Love and Logic. Here is a link to their web site: http://www.loveandlogic.com/. If you follow the link you'll find their website with a lot of great content, even a podcast. I haven't read the book yet, but I'm planning on it. Once I finish it, I'll post about it, and the website looks great too so I'll be posting about it as well. While I'm on the subject, another podcast about being foster parents you should check out is the Foster Parenting Podcast, found here: http://fosterpodcast.com/. I've really been enjoying it, a husband and wife share their experiences as foster parents, and it's one of the main influences for this blog and podcast. I'm only on episode 19 and I've already learned a lot; and they're up to 81 episodes as I write this. Ok, back to the theme of this post, the calm before the storm.

As much as we can try and prepare ourselves for foster care, right now it's just waiting for that first phone call. Waiting for that first time you meet a foster child. The first time you bring them home. What it will be like after you've had them for a week, a month. What it may be like to have to say goodbye to them as they are reunified with their parent's or family once they've been in your home for a long time and you have bonded with them. We heard that many children are little angels for a while when they first come into your home, but then they begin to act out after they've been there for a while. What will that be like? So many questions, and all we can do is wait. Well, while you're waiting I hope you can find something useful and valuable out of the experiences I'm going to share, and for those of you who are already foster parents, please leave comments sharing your wealth of wisdom; I could sure use it. My next blog post should be after we've taken in our first foster child. I'm very excited for that to finally happen, and as stressful as it may be, hopefully we'll be positively impacting the life of another human being. This is our purpose in becoming foster parents. I'll leave you with this verse from the ESV translation of the bible.

James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.


Music Used - "Endless Love" by Jackie Chan & Kim Hee-Seon