Post submitted by Eva Kendrick
After six years together, my wife, Kathryn, and I, are preparing to take on the role of our lifetimes: parents.
We now have a nursery instead of a guest room and have baby-proofed every corner of our house. We’ve collected children’s clothes, books, and toys, and have read parenting blog after parenting blog.
However, unlike many of our other friends becoming parents in the next few months, we’ve also completed a criminal background check, multiple home studies, a 10-week class on trauma-informed parenting, and mountains of paperwork.
That’s because we’re becoming foster parents to infants and toddlers in Jefferson County, Alabama, where more than 1,200 children are in a foster care system with only 250 licensed foster homes.
While we’d been considering foster parenting for years, it became a priority for us when our HRC staff in Alabama began to fight against an anti-LGBTQ foster and adoption bill in 2016 - a bill that returned, and was signed into law, this year.
- More than 5,500 children in Alabama’s foster and adoption system because of violence, neglect, and abuse.
- More than 1,000 children actively awaiting placement with foster or adoptive families.
- The average child’s wait for a permanent home is 3.6 years.
- Almost 400 children aged out of Alabama’s foster care system with no families in 2012.
Six months after applying, we are still waiting for our finalized license so that we can begin accepting placements with children needing a loving and supportive home, serendipitously just in time for National Foster Care Month.
Our excitement is tempered by the knowledge that no child comes into care from good circumstances and that our joy is also a family’s grief. We look forward to partnering with birth parents and Alabama’s DHR case workers in the hopes that the children in our care will be reunited with their families in the most timely fashion possible.
We hope and trust the time they spend with us and in our communities will help shape – as positively as possible – their futures.
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day not having met the children who will transform us into parents, but already treasuring a deep and abiding love for them.
Through this love, we value the love – deeper still – of the children’s birth mothers, honor the examples of our own mothers - living and deceased, and prepare our hearts and home for the greatest adventure yet as their foster moms, for however long they need us.
I can’t say for sure yet, but I have a feeling we are the lucky ones.