A narrative written by Lydia Goshow, a graduating senior from Glendale, Arizona, who shares her perspective on her family’s role as foster parents.
Interested in knowing more about becoming a foster parent? Visit the orientation page to see the first steps.
In Webster’s dictionary, it defines the word foster as two things, 1. to promote the growth or development of… ENCOURAGE and 2. to give parental care to…NURTURE. It is a verb, which means it is an action. This is exactly what being a foster parent is, an action you do where you encourage and nurture a child. And just like encourage and nurture, the concept of fostering is pretty easy to grasp, but to live out those actions, to make them a way of everyday life can be incredibly difficult.
My parents have been foster parents for twenty years. They did Foster Care when my two bio siblings were both young. They fostered multiple children over those years, they decided to stop a few years before I came along. Flash forward a decade or so, my parents were getting licensed once again; but this time I was able to experience the joy and heartache that comes with Foster Care.
After plenty of training hours, house inspections and paperwork, they were officially licensed foster parents again! As a family, we needed to decide what age group to foster, which age group that we could pour our love into, and nurture, and encourage; we decided fostering infants would be the perfect fit for us. We never had the intent to adopt any of the children; but instead, be their home and family until their forever-family was found. Even if you decide that you are not going to adopt, it becomes so hard not to want to once you spend time with the children. Whether you foster a child for a year, a month, or a day you never forget them.
Getting the call is always a combination of excitement and pain. Excitement because you’re going to go pick up a brand new little human who is just yearning for love and stability, that you can provide them! Then pain because you know that that baby or child has already had to face so much suffering in their little life and it’s hard to be confronted with that reality. Our first placement was a very tiny two-week-old baby girl named Rosie.* We picked her up from the placement office.When we walked in, the worker pulled my mom aside and explained to her that Evelyn’s nine-year-old sister had been taking care of Rosie and her other younger siblings by herself for quite some time. My mom was asked to talk to that little nine-year old girl and tell her that we were going to take care of her baby sister, and we thanked her for letting us do that. All of the children in that office were in the same boat, needing a place that they can feel safe and loved. My mom and I couldn’t even get out of the building before we started sobbing.
We took Rosie home and gave her as much love as we possibly could. A week later, while at our friend’s house, we got the other call, the call that you think you’re prepared for, but once it comes, you learn that as hard as you try, you can never be emotionally and mentally prepared for this call. Rosie was leaving us in less than two hours. This was my first time ever going through this. It’s amazing how many new emotions you experience when it’s time for what feels like your own baby to leave. Rosie ended up getting placed in a home that was able to take her and her other siblings as well. I was sad, but I knew that Rosie’s sister was going to be able to see her again and take care of her once more. We mourned, prayed and rejoiced for Rosie and then were put back on the list for another baby.
We got our next placement, Jenna,* at a few weeks old! We had her for a few months while her grandparents in a different city were getting approved to keep her. Even though I knew it was coming, that second call came and that same wave of emotions fell over me. We mourned, prayed and rejoiced for Jenna and were put back on the list.
Our next baby felt different from the previous babies, we connected to her almost immediately and still think of her often. Marilyn,* she came to us at three-months-old. She was one of the most fun babies we have ever had. We loved her very, very much. She was a tough case. Her case plan consisted of a lot of ups and downs. We had her for over a year, which doesn’t seem like long, but in the fostering world, it is. We got that second call once again. I will never forget the day we got it. I was sitting at my dining room table, Marilyn was napping, and my mom was in the other room still in earshot. I heard her phone ring, she answered, and I just knew. I immediately started crying, and then my mom started crying while she was still on the phone. They said that they were coming to get her in the next day or so. My mom was shell shocked and asked if they could give us a few weeks to let our family and friends say goodbye, because the reality was that Marilyn was a part of our family. They let us have those few weeks, which was sweet. We loved on her as much as possible in those weeks. Unfortunately, the day we had to say goodbye was a day I was at my summer camp, hours away. I didn’t get to say goodbye for that last, last time. I didn’t get to drive with her, I didn’t get that last snuggle or giggle. We said goodbye, mourned, prayed and rejoiced for Marilyn. As I said earlier, you have that wave of emotions that you didn’t know you had. I felt that wave, but this time it felt like a tsunami.
After that heartache, we decided to take a little break and refresh. I feel like it is very important to give yourself time to reflect and refresh otherwise, you could be depriving the next child of your full love and it isn’t fair to deprive that child of one more thing.
After a few months of living life, we were itching to pour out our love and have a baby around. We went on the list and didn’t get any calls for a while, until one night while I was at a party my parents got the call to pick up our first baby boy, who hadn’t even been named yet! My parents did not tell me prior to picking me up, that we had gotten a new baby. He was so little that I just assumed the car seat was empty until I took a second look and saw the smallest, wrinkliest baby ever! I was so surprised, my emotions overcame me, I started crying, I was so happy! When we got home that night we knew we had to give him a name; this was such a cool experience. After a lot of googling definitions, asking friends for suggestions and debating, we settled on my choice, Isaiah.
Isaiah’s story is my favorite one to tell because it’s a joyful one. We have family friends, the Linds, who have three biological girls, they were more than ready for a boy! They were in the process of becoming foster parents when we got Isaiah. They watched him countless times for us and they fell in love with him. We had Isaiah for six months then we joyfully transitioned him to his forever family, our family friends, the Linds. After months and months of waiting on severance and all the paperwork, they were finally able to adopt him! I am so thankful to the Lind family for adopting him and letting us stay in his life. We get to see this little boy grow up and still give him all our love. He has a wonderful family that will always love him along with so many other people in his life that love him and were there in court for his adoption, cheering him on. If you ever have to go to court I hope it is to experience an adoption, they are one of the most beautiful things you could ever encounter. We continue to pray and rejoice for Isaiah.
After Isaiah, we made the decision to not continue doing foster care, that decision changed quickly when my mom bought a stroller because it was “on-sale” and my dad and I practically begged my mom to put us back on the list. A few weeks later, we got a call! We had what seemed like a rapid-fire of placements, each of them only lasted about two weeks each! We had Maggie, Isabella, and Joel.* One story that I think that really captures what getting the call is like is when I was at a Bible study, sharing my prayer request, I had asked for prayer because we were back on the list and that we could have a new baby by the time my parents came to get me. During the prayer I got a text from my mom, after the prayer I read it and it said that we had just gotten the call for Serenity! I shared that with my group, we all laughed and were flabbergasted at the timing of it all.
After those few quick placements, we got yet another little girl. Her name was Charlotte and she was a teensy little baby. We had her for about 6 months, got that second call and she went to her dad and grandma. We mourned, prayed and rejoiced for Charlotte. We didn’t go back on the list, because like last time we swore Charlotte was our last placement.
A few months passed, my mom had caught up on her sleep and my dad and I begged a little more. So we did one more, and this one was truly our last one. We went back on the list and got a call: a baby girl named Taylor.* We very quickly nicknamed her Tay. Little did I know that this little girl was going to be my little girl. Tay was the goofiest little baby but one of the best. Tay’s case plan ended up going to reunification which means she was going back to her mom. And reunification was something I had not gone through before. This process brought on yet another set of emotions that I hadn’t experienced. Tay’s mom did all the correct steps to get her back. Luckily, we were able to help her mom out during that time and encourage her. We still get to see Tay every once and awhile, but the goodbyes are always hard. She truly felt like my baby, if I could’ve, I would have adopted her as my own faster than you can say, “ you’re not legally old enough yet”. I love her so much and know that she is a permanent part of me. I know that being with her mom and sisters will benefit her but I cannot help being selfish and wanting to have her with me, so I can protect her. Reunification requires a lot of trust, not only trust for the mom to make the right decisions and keep making them but trust in God. My parents and I continue to mourn, pray and rejoice for Tay.
Contrary to popular belief, Tay was our last placement. I know that my personal Foster Care journey is not over. I hope to have a family of my own one day that I can continue fostering and maybe in my journey, I will adopt! My mom couldn’t stay away from Foster Care long, after 29 years out of the workforce my mother got a job as a licensing worker for a Foster Care agency. My family and I are Foster Care advocates and will always be. I did not tell you these stories and share my experiences to prove myself or with selfish intent, I wanted to share these things so that I can tell you about foster care and how incredibly important it is.
Every time I mention foster care and having foster siblings I always hear the thing, “How do you guys do it? I bet it is so hard, I could never do it!”. Yes, it is hard. We do it for the children. We do it for God’s glory. We do it because there are roughly 13,400 children in the foster care system in my state alone. We do it because there are approximately 443,000 children in the foster system any given day in America. I do it because the babies that come into the system have already gone through more than I have in my entire life. In reality, I can’t do it, at least not by myself. I can only do it because I have the comfort in knowing that my savior Jesus Christ did the same thing for me. He actually went a step further and DIED for me, to save me. He adopted and called me his child, he did that for me, a sinner, someone who is lowly. He didn’t have to do that for me, but he did. I can do it because I have the comfort of knowing that God created that child and has a plan for their life. I can do it because I have faith in God and his sovereign will. That child is in God’s hands, and whose hands could be better? I can do it because I have the love of God in my heart that needs to be poured into these children, to care for them and give them the ability to connect. I want you to know that I do this not for me, but for them. Being a foster parent is not about being selfish, it’s about being selfless. The Bible calls us to love one another and our neighbors as ourselves, it also calls us to care for the widows and the orphans. I know, truly, that being a foster parent is not for everyone. I believe that God blesses us in many different ways with many different gifts and abilities. If being a foster parent is frankly not for you, do not do it but instead, support your family and friends who are. Being a foster parent is hard, but it is so worth it.
Find out about becoming a foster parent by visiting the Faith and Families orientation page today!
*Names have been changed