I had just hit the 7th month of pregnancy when we got the official phone call we had been waiting for...we were officially licensed Foster parents in the state of Florida! Woo! It was such a relief to hear those words we had worked for, waited for, prayed for. To see this dream and calling become a reality that we had to fight for. The phone calls immediately began, and I got a quick wake-up call. They were so heavy and overwhelming-on top of already being a little hormonal and very pregnant! The placement lady tells you a quick, often very heartbreaking overview of the child and the current situation and then simply asks if you can take them. It feels gut wrenching to say no, you feel like you would do anything to just make it work and not have to bare the thought of a sweet baby staying the night in an office or hotel room while they frantically try to find an open home. I felt confused and stuck...on one hand I wanted to jump in and say yes to every call, I mean after all God had clearly called us into this and this is what we had signed up for! But on the other side of things I'm so close to birthing our first child! It's not just about me anymore, I have to make a wise choice for our family. Was I being naive that I could do both?? The enemy tried to flood my mind with fear and doubts, and sometimes I will admit I took the bait. Sam and I talked things over, prayed a LOT and I just cried and wrestled with the weight of it all. I told the Lord one morning I would do whatever He wanted, whether that be to take a child in now or to wait, I just needed some clarity. Not even an hour went by and we got a phone call to take a respite baby!
Respite care in the foster world is simply giving another foster family a break. Sometimes that means the family is going on a trip and not able to take the foster child with them, other times its for a family emergency, or simply just to support and let them take a deep breath. It can be anywhere from a couple days to a few weeks. We got asked to take a 7 month old boy for a couple weeks. My initial response was a little hesitant and prideful, something like "I want to do the real deal, not a babysitting gig". But I was quickly humbled as I realized how gracious the Lord was to give me an answer to prayer so quickly and allow us to get our feet wet and feel like we were still helping this ministry. I felt a lot of peace as we said yes and prepared to pick up the little guy. I was all smiles! He turned out to be the world's cutest baby (I think God was really trying to hook us in! haha!) It's truly amazing how attached and protective you feel so fast! After a few hours I was ready to keep him forever and just make sure he was loved and safe. It was the strangest thing to pick up a random baby from someone and become their full time Mom for a short time.
My routine quickly revolved around playtime, feedings and naps. I would never have traded that sweet time, it went by much too quickly. Having a foster baby on my hip, while carrying our own inside of me was a constant reminder of God's faithfulness. Seeing Sam jump into the Dad role and have so much fun, just increased my excitement about the future. It wasn't all sunshine of course, there were diaper blow-outs, crying spells and lots of projectile spit-up...but it was a quick glimpse into our life and it filled me with joy! Little dude ended up re-unifying with his birth mom and I got a very tiny taste of how hard the saying goodbye part of fostering is. I felt like a baby for crying and feeling so nervous when I dropped him off, I didn't even have him very long! But this is a huge part of foster care and it was so good for me to see. All you can do for these kids is love them hard while you have them, pray over them and trust that God has their lives in His capable, sovereign hands.
While I don't know exactly how it's going to look from here on out (we are still on the list as available for respite and short term placements until baby comes), I do know I can trust in His plan for us and not try to jump ahead and figure everything out. We've been able to talk to other families about starting fostering and share our story. And there have also been opportunities for us to babysit for a foster family in our church. Either way we are so excited to be a small part of this ministry, even if it has looked different then we envisioned. Our little girl is just weeks away from being born and I truly can't wait to soak in this blessing and the wild ride of motherhood!