It all started with a call for volunteers. The local crisis center was looking for new people to man their lines. They came to one of my large lectures on campus and role played what a typical crisis call may look like. I signed up that day. A college sophomore with dreams of learning school, it changed my life trajectory. I trained, I volunteered as many shifts as I could, and I loved it. This is what I’m meant to do. Help people.
Junior year I ended up adding psychology to my major so I could hopefully gain some education to support my changing dream. After college, I worked as a family preservationist for a subsidiary of DFACS (basically case management and visit facilitator for families trying to meet the goals for reunification). Wow, was it mind opening. Sibling groups being torn apart and getting placed in several families without the support of one another, teens being left to fend for themselves at 18 with little or no resources, and to me, the worst part, kids older than 8-9 years old never getting an a opportunity for a forever family because everyone wants babies or very young kids to adopt. It stuck with me.
After having my eldest son, I left the job to stay home with him. After having three boys of my own, I knew it was time for me to get involved with foster care again. This time, however, I wanted to be the one providing the safety, security, and love of a forever home. We sent our family flyers to several case workers with sibling groups. One was for a group of three girls. Later that day, their caseworker called. She said, I know you put your application in for these girls, but I have to read to you what this other little girl wrote about what she wants in her forever family. As she listed off her wishes (she be the only girl, mom who loves to cook, etc) we knew. She named almost verbatim every item on the list. Her name was Jaiden, and she also had a little brother Kellan. On paper, they didn’t fit our criteria. We wanted to adopt a group of three, we wanted to maintain our birth order of our kids (so none older or younger than our three), and we definitely wanted kids past the baby stage, as our youngest was four.
Jaiden was three months older than our son, and Kellan was only 11 months. We said yes without hesitation. It has not all been easy. There were problems with DFACS not filing legal paperwork correctly, which extended our foster status from six months to nearly two years. There were feeding issues, developmental issues, and adjustments for everyone. It has always been worth it. No child should grow up not knowing stability, safety, or unconditional love.
My chosen kids are 17 and 9 now. We joke whenever Jaiden (17) gets embarrassed by us that she chose us. Because she did. When the case worker read her our family flyer and showed her the picture, she said, “That’s my family”.