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I have wondered about how you came to decide to foster, and then decide that two kids who needed a lotta more were definitely your kids. That you were correct, there is no question. But I wonder about the decision process. Probably you've said already, and I look like an idiot now. And yeah, I know I'm two hours late. But still.

There are many noble foster and adoptive parents who got into this out of a sense of duty and a calling to help children. I’m not one of them. My wife and I wanted children and this was the path that best suited us.

We did not start trying to have kids until we were in our thirties. It turns out that it was a little harder for us than we anticipated. We tried some fertility treatments, but they did not work out. (There’s a statement that glosses over a lot of laughter and tears.) We had some ethical and financial concerns about some of the more higher-end treatments so we decided to look elsewhere. I also wanted to add that whenever I speak of ethical concerns in this piece, I am talking about my own personal ethical concerns and I am not casting aspersions on the way anyone else might choose to fill out his or her family.

We looked at private adoptions and we looked at overseas adoption but both of those courses really struck us as buying children. We went to one seminar put on by an overseas adoption company and they had a break out session on how to raise the money necessary for the adoption. I could afford the fees, but the emphasis on the money was off-putting. I am sure, that as in anything, there are good and bad brokers and there are many with a fine and well-established sense of ethics. I felt that I was personally lacking in the wisdom necessary to discern them, so we gave that method a pass.

One Sunday at church, there was a presentation by One Heart Ministries. One Heart is an organization that recruits and trains Christian foster parents. They put on a presentation that talked about kids in Saint Louis who needed a foster home and what they could do to train us and support us in an attempt to help these kids.

I was less than enthused. It seemed very much like work to me. My wife, however, was taken by the idea so I agreed to look into it. We both thought about it and talked about it and decided we would be foster-adoptive parents. In Missouri, and most other states, infants and young children are not put up for adoption very quickly. If you foster them, however, you are first line to adopt them when they do come up for adoption. My wife and I decided to take this route. We realized that we may have a child with us for a short time, a long time or forever.

Training was actually very nice. We talked about all of the things you may run into as a foster parent. Some foster kids will hoard food in their room. One of the foster mother trainers said that she would not break them of this habit if they might go back to their parents as it is often a survival skill. Instead she would just get the kids to keep the food in a Tupperware container so that it would not attract pests. We talked about court and visits to parents and school and just about everything they could think of to get us ready. It was at times a heart-breaking topic, but we were talking with very nice people about it, and slowly I began to realize that I could actually do something about it.

One thing they mentioned was that during this process, one spouse is generally dragging the other spouse along and that sometimes the spouses switch position. That was generally true for us. Sometime my wife was charging ahead dragging me along, and sometime I was leading the way and cheering her on to keep up.

It was the path for us. The Foster/adoptive route was simply our route to a family that best fit our physical/ethical/financial situation.

After training, there was nothing to do but wait. We filled out a form that detailed what kind of kid we were willing to take. This is a heart-breaking form. Not only to you list age and gender and sibling size, but you also list what kind of medical ailments you can accept and what kind of trauma and abuse you are willing to deal with. So we very carefully filled out this form and we waited.

One day at work, I got a call. “We have a baby for you. He’s five and a half months old. We think he has acid reflux.” Five hours later, FirstLock was in our home. That was the sum total of my knowledge of him. Five and half months old, may have acid reflux. We didn’t know if he was sleeping through the night, if he was on solid food, what vaccines he had had, what medicines he needed. Five and half months old, may have acid reflux. The social worker spent about five minutes with us as she dropped him off and headed out. And we were alone with the baby. Somebody had trusted us with a baby; surely the system had broken down somewhere.

FirstLock however, looked up at us and smiled. It was a big toothless grin. I’ve loved him ever since.

Owlboy’s story is here:

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