top of page

Year One - and Counting

Feb 6, 2022. I sat on the tiny balcony of my airbnb in Jaco Costa Rica and joined the required Info Session/orientation for becoming a foster parent. The previous December, I'd finally nailed down the agency I wanted to work with and signed up. I came ready and equipped with a list of questions, and good thing too, because no one else did. They were impressed. I finished my paperwork in record time, they loved my organization and felt it showed a desire, I'd get through this process in no time, if I wanted. It felt like a great start! Now here I am, exactly one year later, and I'm still completing the process. To say that this has been disappointing and frustrating would be an understatement, but it has also taught me so much about myself and the type of foster parent that I want to be.

Going into this single, I knew I would face some challenges, but considering we make up 25% of foster homes, it wouldn't be seen differently. And by the state, it's not. The agency that I chose however, turned out to have a history of being notoriously anti-single parent. It took 9 months to finally realize this, and have it confirmed by numerous other single foster moms who had also tried to foster through them. I was frustrated, sad, mad, disappointed, but I had an amazing support system. Despite knowing I'd passed in every way, other than having a partner, I still felt like a failure. Like hadn't I just announced to everyone that I was doing this after months of being too nervous to talk about it, in case it didn't work out? Were these people who had supported me going to think I was a failure? They should, because I felt like one. I cried - hard. 9 months of trainings and reading and educating myself and preparing my home and it was all amounting to nothing. It was embarrassing and I wallowed in it for day - but just a day. Because after the tears and anger, I stepped back (with the help of friends) and realized, no, I wasn't a failure. Being single isn't a concerning attribute, no matter how this agency wanted to treat it. Being single is a choice that I have made and one that in no way affects my ability to parent a child. This agency hadn't worked out, but that was it. It was one agency of many, and it wasn't the end of my journey unless I allowed it to be. So I took to Instagram - this sounds silly maybe, but I needed to say it out loud. I needed to tell people how I felt, but also about how I was starting over. If they deemed me a failure, so be it, but I had to say it, so that I could stop deeming myself one.

And the most amazing thing happened. No one viewed me as a failure. People close, and that I haven't spoken to in years, reached out with nothing but encouragement and love. It was overwhelming to know that so many people were rooting for me, even from the shadows. To feel validated in going through this process, even in those hard moments. So, I gave myself another day, then withdrew my application from the agency and started over. I searched for other agencies, but their values didn't align with mine (if you want hear about my foster philosophy, I just may write a post about that as well, bc it's too much to put here.) So I took to my online support group for help and the overwhelming response was "Go directly through the County."

I knew this was an option, but had wanted an agency bc of the built-in community that often comes with them. After 9 months of this process though, I realized I HAD built a community. Because of the downtime in the agency's process, I had chosen to take additional foster classes that were offered by a nearby college that partners with the county. Through those, I met other local FPs, and in particular another single foster mama! We were also in the same online support group, and she reached out when things went south with the agency, along with connecting me to another single foster mama nearby. They walked me through the process of starting with the county, had all of the names and numbers of who to contact ready to go to hand over, and lifted me up through it.

So at the beginning of November, less than 3 days after I withdrew from the agency, I was up and running with my application through the county, and what a difference. When the initial worker called to get my info, we breezed through the call. I knew what was going to be asked, I knew why they were asking, and I was ready. I wasn't nervous or wondering how my answers would be perceived, because I had done this all before. I knew what this was and what it entailed. I started the officially required trainings, and again, it was a breeze. The agency's trainings had honestly been much more in depth, and much more intensive, so I had no trouble with these. I finished the paperwork in record time bc I already had the docs they would need saved on my computer, ready to go from the last time. Then they connected me to my application social worker and because I was leaving for my 5 week Germany trip, we set my first home study for mid January. She came, and I was prepared for her to tell me just how much I still needed to do, bc the county is stricter than most agencies. She came through and said it was good! I had couple things to do - clear out the backyard, put a lock on one kitchen cabinet - I was ready to do all cabinets (and still prob will so I don't have to later) - then she gave me suggestions on things to do in future, but I was ALL GOOD! We'd have one more home study once my background check had finalized in the system, and we'd be on our way. She left, and I was happy, but in a bit of a haze. It just felt so surreal, that we'd finally gotten to this point.

Over the next few days, I started to think about how "easy" the process had been with county, and started to feel frustrated all over again with the agency. "They wasted my time" I kept grumbling to myself, "I could've been licensed and helping a child by now." Resentment was starting to grow. But then, as I was sending a Marco Polo to bestie, I realized as I talking that, no, they hadn't really wasted my time at all. The amount of extra classes I'd taken, the connections I'd built, the rabbit holes of information I'd gone down, the education I'd gone in search of relating to foster care, trauma, the effects of the system, were all instrumental in fleshing out exactly what type of foster parent I wanted to be. It had given me time to put together a nursery, for friends to contribute and be involved. The training that I got through the agency was extremely in depth, it opened my eyes to the Bio Parents' point of view in Foster Care, a view I'd simply assumed I knew enough about, but really had no clue the depth and intricacy of it all. Every piece of this yearlong puzzle that has been the foster licensing process, was instrumental in getting me here, preparing me for what's to come.

To say that I am fully prepared and ready for whatever comes my way would be a really stupid thing to say. As any of my parent friends will agree, there is no way to be 100% prepared for the tiny stranger that enters your home, whether you birthed them or not. Parenting in all forms is a learning process, and one that, because of this last year, I am better equipped to enter, knowing I don't know it all. And there is beauty in that. So, as prepared as anyone can be for the journey of foster parenthood, I am ready. I'm now in that stage of anxiousness, knowing it's so close. This next chapter, that I have spent the last year preparing myself for, is finally just weeks away. I am excited and nervous and ready and unsure and so sure and yet already heartbroken for this little that needs me to even be ready like this. I wish I had a better way of explaining the emotions that come along with it all, but I just don't have the words. So, all I will say instead is THANK YOU. To everyone that listened, supported, contributed, encouraged, or even (and maybe especially) just rooted for me from the shadows, thank you for believing in me and for taking this ride with me. We've only just begun!

My registry will remain an ever-evolving thing, so if at any point you want to contribute in that way, it'll always be up here, along with other foster care resources and information.


bottom of page