Off to my right on the desk, buried somewhere in a wobbly stack, is a piece of paper that says Todd and I completed 27 hours of foster home certification training. It's legit and everything. In the eyes of our state we're just a quick (ha!) public home study away from being qualified foster parents.
We've had it since this summer and I'm still not sure what we're going to do with it. I should probably find out if it has an expiration date.
Both times that we took the preparation workshops for our two adoptions, there were couples there who were still really undecided about the whole adoption thing. I didn't understand them at that point. At the workshop stage in the process you're taking time off of work and shelling out significant (at least to me) money--it's not really something I'd do on a whim. At the time it seemed to me that you'd wait until you were at least a little bit sure about adopting. There are easier ways to get your questions answered.
Yet there I sat in an uncomfortable chair at our local child protective services office for 27 hours over two very hot weeks this past July, not entirely sure what we would do next.
In our area, foster parenting and adoption from the foster system are two separate tracks. If you are wanting to adopt, they (theoretically) aren't calling you with foster placements. In reality, of course, foster families frequently end up adopting kids who've lived with them when reunification or kinship placements aren't possible and pre-adoptive homes sometimes see kids be successfully reunified with family. But they wanted us to choose one track or the other and we thought we had made our big decision by signing up for the foster parent training instead of the adoption one.
Only it turns out they put the two groups together and train them all at once and everyone gets the same certificate. So much for making decisions.
So we have that certificate. We have a folder of paperwork to start a home study process. We've had more than one discouraging conversation with different local foster agencies. And I've done nothing more since July, save pick up the home study folder every other week or so and put it back down.
I've been reluctant to talk about this as we bumble around looking for direction. I know how it looks on its face when put up against some of the uglier realities and hierarchies of domestic adoption: we adopted a white baby, then a brown baby, and now we're considering foster parenting. Like the people who chirp about how they want to adopt when they're "done having children of their own." I know what actually happened in our family's story and what brought us to this point. But putting things out on the internet means knowing that people will judge you for how things look and not how they are. I've never been the bravest blogger. Not to mention the simple fact that they're always in need of new foster homes around here, so all my indecision and navel-gazing seems pretty self-indulgent in the face of the need.
I've become friends with too many foster parents to be anywhere near starry-eyed about possibly being part of the system. There are no fantasies about being a saintly foster parent, a transformative beacon of hope in a hurting child's life. I just know I've started to have that feeling again that there is someone missing in our house. A sense that there is space at our table waiting to be filled with another person, whether for awhile or forever. And it seems right to explore opening up our home in this way.