But… Where to Begin?
I struggle sometimes to find the words to describe the simultaneous feelings I have about this subject. Those being: wanting to be a parent, yet not wanting to physically birth children, and the fact that I’m quite happily a married woman in a same-sex relationship.
I’ve known all three of these things for a long time. From an early age, I knew I wanted to have kids and a family. I was probably around 13 or so when I began to realize there was something just “different” about me in the way I thought about boys, girls, and relationships. And I was sitting in 9th grade health class when I realized childbirth? Was maybe–most likely–not for me.
I want to be a parent. I feel like I have a lot of love to give to a child and the desire to help bring up a little good in the world. But these things conflict from time-to-time, don’t they? Not to mention my latest fears of not being “parenty” enough to be a parent… Or (for that matter) adult enough to be an adult. But here we are… Adulting (somehow). And maybe just figuring it out as we go. And maybe parenting is a bit the same way.
As my sister told me recently: “[Being a parent] is kind of like being a professional person. Sometimes at work I’m like I cried yesterday because I ran out of cake but let me help you with your problems!”
Maybe there’s some truth to that. It made sense to me. Because, let’s be real, how are we supposed to be a parents when our own lives have the potential to cause these mini-breakdowns every so often?? It’s the same story as being a real-life adult. Sometimes you just do it, and sometimes you cry because you ran out of cake, or because tomorrow’s Monday and you just don’t wanna. But somehow it all works out. Mostly.
So the story goes that my wife and I are working towards becoming foster parents. This is something that is kind of hard to explain sometimes. So here’s a quick breakdown of some…
Fostering FAQ For the Wondering Minds
(just the answers part, though ;))
1) Yes, fostering means that you are working to help the kids be reunited with their birth parent/s.
2) Yes, that means you might have to “give them back.”
3) Don’t worry, we are not under any false pretenses that this will not be one of the most difficult things we’ve probably ever had to do.
4) Yes, we’re still going to do it.
Because… it’s a decision my wife and I are making together as a family knowing full-well what it’s about and what our intentions are.
The way we see it: it’s a service we can provide to kids as well as their parents. In our lines of work, we see parents who are struggling but trying their best to turn their lives around, and kids who are in desperate need of support and love… We feel it’s something we can provide for however long we have those children. We know that we can be positive role models, try to give them a good start in life, and really give them just about anything and everything we can in that moment.
Can we change their lives or circumstances forever? Maybe not. But at the very least we can show them love and structure at a time in their life that probably feels like the whole world is being turned upside down.
5) Yes, we know that the foster care system is a system with many flaws. We’ve heard some horror stories. We’ve witnessed some, too.
6) No, we don’t think we will be able to change the whole system.
But we do feel like if we can work from the inside to be the voice and be the advocate for one child, and then later, another child, and another, and so on… Then maybe we can at least do that. And at least that is doing something that is within our power.
Okay… But how about some fun info and stuff?
1) We are getting licensed for kids ages 0-5. Although the parent-y enough and adult-y enough questions still linger… We felt at our current ages and experience levels, we would have the most success with the younger kiddos.
2) It is possible that a kid we foster may become eligible for adoption. This can be a long process. And a very bittersweet process… The fact that one family had to break apart in order to form another is a rough way of becoming. But should that ever happen… Yes, we’d definitely consider adoption if we were the best match for that child.
3) Yes, it’s also possible we could adopt a child who is already in foster care and actively looking for a permanent home.
Sure. Adoption is something I, personally, have always considered. Obviously the whole “gay-thing” causes one to consider what “alternative options” are out there. But for me, it’s more than just that.
I find there’s something quite… conventional to having your own children. The questions of… “Will my kid look like me?” “Will my kid be like me?” “What kind of kids will my spouse and I make together?” It has an element that has always seemed a bit… off.
I mean… there’s nothing wrong with conventional if that’s for you. I don’t think I was ever meant to have a conventional life, anyway… so please don’t take it personally. 🙂
But sure. There is something beautiful in creating children with the one you love. And if part of that is having that child carry on your genetic code then that’s… Sentimental (I guess?).
But I’ve always figured that there’s more to having a family and having kids than where they come from or how they get here. There are a ton of kids in the world, in this country, and even in my own neighborhood, who are either not wanted by or not safe with their birth families. Yet, here I am… With plenty of want and plenty of love to give. And no way to make it happen on my own.
Maybe your perspective is different. That’s okay! I’m sure there are lots and lots of good reasons to have your own children. And if you’re able to do that and that’s what you want–then I’m happy for you.
To be honest, if my wife and I could conceive and were able to have our own children, we might do it just for the ease of it. But we’re also aware of a lot of kids in the world who already exist without families, and why not raise one of those ones instead? Or at least, in addition to?
There are some interesting thoughts that have come to mind while considering this whole foster and adoptive parent thing…
There is a point in life (pretty early on I’d imagine if you’re anything like me) where you have this vision of what your family might be like “when you grow up.” Some of the same questions come up; How many kids will I have? What will I name them? Will they look like me?
But no matter how I ever answered those questions before… This whole process kind of throws them out the window.
- These kids will come with names I didn’t pick. They might be names I would never, ever pick to name a child.
- They most likely won’t look anything like me. Quite possibly, they could be an entirely different ethnicity than my wife or I.
- And my idea of how many I ideally wanted could very well change. And my family size could grow and then shrink and then grow again.
I’m thinking that there is nothing “normal” or “usual” about fostering or adopting.
Unconventional life. That’s for sure. 🙂
If you’re like me, and believe or at least consider that we’re supposed to meet and know the people we meet and know… And that sometimes, people come into our lives for reasons… Then it’s also interesting to think that the kid we’re supposed to know and have as ours might already be born somewhere in the world.
I already think about them even though I have no idea who they are. I already pray that they’re safe and that they will have the best outcomes for their well-being and safety in life. I kind of already love them. And they’re not even anyone or anything definite yet. Just an idea…
The one thing I will be happy to tell my children one day is that they are the most wanted kid. That we loved them long before we ever knew them. That we wanted them more than anything and that we worked so hard to have them here with us. I hope one day, they’ll be able to understand that. And that it won’t matter how we became a family. Just that we are.
Maybe that’s kind of how it is for everyone who wants kids. I know it’s not easy to create a family. I feel like my wife and I are working on constructing ours. We’re making the plan, getting the permit, checking our work…
It’s strange. Half our house already looks like a kid lives here. We have a crib, and a bed, an empty dresser and a changing table (only empty when the cat’s not sleeping on it!). We have toys. And we have so much hope and love in our hearts. But… No kid yet.
It will happen. I know it will. Maybe our kid is out there, waiting for us, too. And maybe soon we will find each other.
Until then… Stay tuned.