Foster Care to Adoption: The Start of Our Journey to Adopt

I believe I was 9 when I knew I wanted to adopt children someday.

I’ve always had a heart for people who are hurting, especially those who can’t take care of themselves.

When I got married, my husband wasn’t passionate about adoption, but he was open to the idea; otherwise, I wouldn’t have married him. In 2012 we started doing some research and pursuing licensing for foster care/adoption. Shortly after we made that decision I ended up getting pregnant, so we put foster care on hold.

My husband thought I’d want some time to adjust before starting back into licensing, but patience is not my forte. When our daughter turned three months old we re-started the process. Nine months later, in April 2014, we received our license. A month after that we had our first foster child.

Over the next 3.5 years, we had five foster children, and every single one of them now owns a piece of my heart.

Today I want to focus on the one who holds the biggest piece: my daughter.

Our Adoption Journey Part one

In April 2016 we got a call about a newborn baby girl in need of a foster family. We said yes and on April 13th, we went to pick her up from the hospital. The social worker couldn’t meet us at the hospital, and apparently the correct paperwork didn’t get completed for us to pick her up, so there was some confusion when we arrived. (But it is good to know that they won’t just send a baby home with a random stranger!) Eventually, it got sorted out and we were able to go to the room.

My husband and daughter waited in the hall while I went into the room. I felt incredibly nervous, being the one taking a child away from her parents. Birth parents and other family members were there just watching me get her changed into her “going home” outfit. I was shaking, thinking, “Why is it so hard to get a baby dressed? These people are going to think I’m completely incompetent to take care of their child!”

After I changed her, I gave the family some time to say goodbye. The birth mom came out of the room, handed her baby to me and said, “Please just promise me you’ll take good care of her.”

She cried and I cried.

I was in this to take care of kids in need, but I also learned some empathy for the birth parents.

Taking that child out of her mother’s arms was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

I loved that baby from the very first second that I held her in my arms.

One might say that I get attached to these kiddos too easily. That’s probably true, but I hold to my belief that it’s better for them to know love and for me to get hurt than for them to never know how much I love them. This little girl was the sweetest, happiest baby in the whole world, and I’m not biased at all.

There should’ve been a court date right after placement. For some reason, there was a delay and it happened 5 weeks later. At court, the judge determined that a safety plan should’ve been made instead of baby being removed to foster care, so she quickly moved back in with birth mom. Moving back with birth parents is the ultimate goal, but it’s also hard not knowing (or knowing too well) what situation they’re going into and how safe they’ll be. I could do nothing at that point but pray for that sweet little girl.

Three months later, in August, we got a call to take the sweet baby back into foster care.

In September we went to court again to determine parental rights for her two older biological sisters, who were placed about a year prior with a foster family we are friends with. There was conflict at that hearing, but ultimately the judge determined that all three girls should be returned to birth mom for a trial home placement. Our little one moved back right away, but her older sisters had to wait about four weeks.

This is the day we sent K back to her birth mom for the second time in September 2017

On November 16th, two weeks after they moved, we were out to lunch for my husband’s birthday when the call came:

“Can you be here to pick K up in fifteen minutes?” I’m not sure we made it in fifteen minutes, but it was close. The following year of foster care was the most challenging and wonderful of my life.

It was just the beginning of our journey to adopt, more of which I’ll share next month.

Are you an adoptive parent, or do you want to adopt? What was the hardest part of the process for you?

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Marla is a lifelong Cedar Rapidian who met her husband, Shawn, at the local Dairy Queen in 2005 and married him in 2009. They have three beautiful and spunky daughters (8, 5, 3) who keep them on their toes. Marla is a stay at home mom who spends very little time at home. She loves children and has spent the last 8 years doing in-home daycare and spent 5 years doing foster care. Marla is an adoptive parent, a homeschooling mom, and a very active member of her local church. In whatever free time she can find, Marla enjoys reading a good love story or watching a chick flick.