The road to adoption and foster care is paved with many players. Traveling the road solo is just not an option. Along the way, you meet strangers who become lifelines. Caseworkers, judges, advocates, bio families, foster parents—we all have titles and roles to fill. But there’s a group of people who are just as important in this journey yet are often overlooked and even more frequently experience feelings of displacement. Foster grandparents.
They didn’t make the decision to pursue the road less traveled, but because of their love for us, they are strapped in for the ride anyway. No doubt, they may be concerned or worried, but as their children, we need to encourage them and let them know that perhaps now, more than ever, we need them and so do the tender hearts we plan to welcome into our homes.
Currently in the trenches of the foster system and as I’ve connected with other foster parents, I’ve noticed that there are commonalities surrounding issues and misunderstandings between aspiring foster parents and the soon-to-be foster grandparents. These are more often than not unintentional and in no way seek to be hurtful, but can sometimes cause tension in an already high stakes environment. So in an effort to help bridge this gap and hopefully avoid some stress-fueled convos, I’ve assigned words to feelings—from a deep place of love and respect—for all of those willing to open their homes and hearts to children who need loving families.
To the ones we love ::
This is an adventure unlike any other that we are embarking on together. We have taken you down some interesting roads before with wild ideas and hair-brained schemes, but this one is different, isn’t it? This one has long-reaching effects that grasp at the threads that make up the fabric of our family—and you didn’t get a say in it.
No one asked if you wanted to be a part of this system and yet here you are. Because of decisions we have made to answer a call, you too are bearing witness to a broken system. You will be exposed to broken hearts; torn souls that are in need of healing.
We can see that you are afraid. You fear that your child’s tender heart could be completely torn in two by this process. And we will tell you honestly, that is an absolute possibility and a probability if we approach this process with the right intentions. We want to love and love well—with complete and open hearts. We have no idea how many children will need to pass through our arms before one needs to stay and this will leave scars; but hear us when we tell you, we know. We know this will hurt. We know that this process will not be easy. We also know you will hurt for us and that is something big we are asking you to take on as well.
We understand that at times the process can seem invasive. There are forms to fill out and checks to be run. Please be patient and understanding. This is not directed at you. It is a large, intricate system that operates the same for everyone who enters into it. They did not come across your name on our paperwork and target you. We—and by proxy, you—are being entrusted to care for other people’s children. We realize that you spend time with your other grandchildren all the time and no one took a single fingerprint for you to do so. I realize that you come from a place where you know every face and practically everyone knows you, but that is not the case this go-round. Keep in mind that this small inconvenience is only a sliver of the paperwork and training that is required of us and it is taxing. We ask for compassion and cooperation during the stages where tasks are asked of you. Your support is vital to our sanity.
There are things about this journey that you do not understand, and that is okay. There are pieces we have not yet put together either! But we invite you to ask us your questions. Open a dialogue with us. Please do not hide your questions in the darkness of your mind and the worries of your wringing hands. Trust that we are filling ourselves with as much information as we can. We have taken the recommended training, we are attending support groups, and we are talking to others who have gone before us. Your questions are welcome here.
Understand that our hearts are softened to the children of the world who need a home, who need someone to love them, because someone first loved us. Someone was there to mend our scraped knees. Someone was there to attend school performances and cheer loudly for third-place ribbons. There was a friendly face in the crowd when we were nervous. And there was someone to call when we didn’t know where to turn. Because of you, we are able to love others.
We know that you are anxious. We know this may not be the way you envisioned our family growing. But please know that we love you and we need you to play a role in our story. The children we’ve prayed for need to know and experience the love we know you have in you.
Our hearts were broken long ago for the many children in foster care who long for family. Children who are taken from their homes because of neglect, abuse, and abandonment. We will wait patiently for the Lord to let us know the child He has predestined to be adopted into our family. But until then, we need you to love them fully as part of our family for as long or as little as they are with us. And then, in the storm after they are gone, we need you to love us.
About Kirsten C.
Kirsten was born and raised in the Texas Hill Country city of Uvalde. After becoming a hopelessly devoted Bobcat and earning her Mass Communications degree at Texas State University, she visited the overwhelming metropolis of Houston and never left. Won over by the never-ending food options and dynamic street art, she has embraced her Houstonian transplant status and calls Katy home. She is an over-the-top and unashamed dog mom who is an avid fan of doggie daycare and pup wardrobe options. She and her husband William are currently being licensed for foster care and hope to adopt in the future. You can follow their unruly journey at Cornell Chaos. When she’s not trying a new restaurant, playing behind the lens of a Cannon, or spoiling their Catahoula, Kirsten is often found teaching student ministry through Kingsland Baptist Church or escaping in a chai latte at a local coffee spot.