A Foster & Adoptive Parent Narrative
We got the call around noon for our first foster placement and by dinner we were holding a tiny four month old baby girl, “Baby Kate.”
Kate was only six pounds when she arrived at our home. She had not gained weight in her first four months of life. We learned that she had been neglected, dropped on her head, exposed to domestic violence, and moved around multiple times prior to being placed with us.
During our journey with Kate, we learned about the long term effects of prenatal and infant trauma. Although we will never know the extent of the trauma Baby Kate experienced, we know it was significant enough to contribute to multiple medical challenges, developmental issues and a failure to thrive diagnosis.
We have three other children who have developed an understanding about the importance and need of fostering, compassion and empathy for Kate, and willingness to help in whatever way that truly makes us proud. They paid an unexpected price due to the amount of time and energy Kate’s care has cost. The currency was quality time with us specifically in the first year caring for Kate.
Balancing everyone’s needs, making time for self care and quality marriage time was very challenging. We’ve experienced many sleepless nights, frequent days off from work, and numerous appointments with medical, developmental, feeding and speech specialists.
Navigating interactions with the biological family was emotional and inconsistent. The goal of reunification is what fostering is about. It was clear early on that this was not to be in Kate’s case but the court hearings continued for two years. This tested everyone’s patience, faith in the system, and made it very difficult to stay present with all the unknowns, risks, and fears.
Kate fully recovered from a failure to thrive diagnosis and symptoms associated with it. The remaining effects of trauma are likely long-term and include attachment and sleep issues that we will continue to work on with the services we have in place.
The training and continuous support we received from our licensing agency, Arizona’s Children Association, was so valuable. We had a vague idea what to expect when fostering to adopt but living it was completely different, which isn’t due to lack of training and preparedness. We had great trainers and were provided more than enough information. A person can’t truly know or grasp what it’s like to foster to adopt until it is a part of their reality.
We officially adopted Baby Kate on National Adoption Day 2017 and celebrated with friends and family.
I think fostering to adopt was the right decision for our family despite the challenges that came up for us. It tested limits, tapped into painful emotions, and forced us to live in the moment…because fostering is truly a day by day thing…everything can change in a day and a looming shadow of a goodbye was always there until it wasn’t. That shadow disappeared when we adopted Kate and in its place, lots of tomorrows.
After the adoption, much has stayed the same and whenever things get overwhelming, which they do from time to time, I remind myself to “keep moving forward,” quoted from Kate’s favorite Disney movie, Meet the Robinsons – coincidentally a film about adoption.
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
– Walt Disney
by Kevin Christopher
Foster & Adoptive Parent