My husband, Zach, and I began the process to become foster parents when our oldest son was only nine months old. We had been talking about becoming foster parents for a few years, and the timing seemed right. So, we submitted an application and jumped in.
Our licensing coordinator was one of the first to know we were pregnant. We expressed our desire to move forward, and she happily encouraged us. She, however, did encourage us to be very specific about the type of child we were willing to take. Because of her suggestions, we went with a very small age range, and were not willing to say yes to children with certain behavioral challenges. Despite being very picky, we accepted our first placement a week after becoming licensed. She was two years old. I was 3 months pregnant, and our son was 1 year old.
Want to learn more about fostering out of birth order? Learn from one foster family’s story about fostering teens.
Two years later, when I was eight weeks pregnant with my third child, we took a new placement, a newborn who we picked up from the hospital. We knew that waiting until I got closer to my due date would only make it harder to take a placement. So we decided to go ahead and move forward regardless of my pregnancy. We were already accustomed to sleepless nights, diapers and bottles. While I was tired from the pregnancy and a little nauseous, I was able to manage with naps and goldfish.
Pregnancy can be a very difficult season for some women: exhaustion, constant nausea, and crazy mood swings. Throwing another child into the mix is not something to be taken lightly. However, pregnancy is not necessarily a reason to put off fostering a child either.
Here are a few things to consider if you are (or may be) expecting and considering foster care:
- First, do you have a good support system? My husband was my greatest supporter throughout my pregnancies. He has a job that allows him to work flexible hours if I need him to be home. He was also able to do all nighttime feedings, so that I could get the rest I needed. I also needed a babysitter frequently for doctors’ visits. Thankfully, our parents were able to keep the other kids during these appointments.
- Second, is your pregnancy healthy? I do not believe there is such a thing as an easy pregnancy. Every pregnant woman is going to have her moments of nausea or exhaustion. However, is your pregnancy making it difficult for you to function on a day to day basis? Are you needing extra intervention or hospital stays to control your nausea? Consider if how you feel will keep you from being able to give a child what they need to transition to your home. For my second pregnancy, I was so tired in the first twelve weeks, that I was napping twice a day to function. Once I passed this point in pregnancy, however, I noticed a burst in energy which gave me the confidence to say yes to a new placement.
- Third, know that you can always say no. When you get a call for a placement, ask as many questions as possible, say a prayer, and make a decision as a family regarding whether you can do it or not. You will get another call if you have to say no now. While there are circumstances in which it is necessary to have a child removed from your home, you never want to say yes to a placement with the intention of having the child removed if it gets too hard or as you get closer to your due date. Be realistic about what your family can do as you determine the age, gender, or special needs of the child needing a home.
Lastly, you will look crazy. There will be people, many that are well intentioned, that will make comments about how you ought to wait. Or how you should “have your own” first. Some people will question if they are “all yours” or even if you “know where babies come from.” I had to find a way to either ignore or handle these situations with humor.
We ended up saying goodbye to our first placement after four months, which was six weeks before my due date. As for the newborn that we welcomed during my third pregnancy, he stayed with us far beyond my due date. We had two babies that were seven months apart. It was fun seeing the look on strangers’ faces when they asked how close in age they were, and then did the math. While having two children so close in age presents challenges, there is also great joy in seeing them together. I simply cannot imagine this season without them both.
While there are wise things to consider before you start the process to foster, there will rarely be a perfect moment to start. So pregnancy alone doesn’t have to be the reason you wait. If you feel led to foster, I would encourage you to start now. If you can provide a loving home now, there’s no need to wait.