A Journey in Fostering

Guest ColumnistCommunity News

by Anna Jordan

My journey into foster care began nearly ten years ago, when I worked at the Instituto Evangelica de Goias, an orphanage in Anapolis, Brazil. During my time there, I met a little two-year-old girl who called me Tia (auntie). Each day we snuggled for hours in the courtyard of the orphanage – her head buried in my chest, one of her hands stroking my face. She had a family, but they could not care for her. They dropped her off at the orphanage when she was just an infant. The need she had for love was so clear. All she wanted was someone to hold her. On that trip I wrote in my journal that I wanted to be that little girl’s mother. In fact, I wrote that I wanted to be the mother to any child that needed one. That desire has been in my mind and in my heart from that time.

Since early on in our marriage, my husband and I talked and prayed about the way in which God would grow our family. For the most part, we have always known that our family growth would include adoption. We feel very strongly that the family God has for us is not limited to biological children. About a year and a half ago, we came to the conclusion that our first child should be adopted. As we talked and prayed about the manner in which we would adopt, we kept circling back to Angels Foster Care (www.angelssb.com). The need for foster parents in Santa Barbara is great. Because so many children right here in our county need homes, we felt that it would be best to begin our process with Angels.

As of this summer, our plan was to finish our certification, provide short-term respite care for a couple of months, and then accept a long-term placement in possibly December or January. Well, six weeks ago we got a call that put our plan in fast forward. We were two steps away from completing our certification when our social worker called to see if we were interested in taking a two-month old baby boy. We said Yes. She said that we could meet him that afternoon.

Let me clarify and add that we were unprepared. We didn’t really have anything for a baby, and neither of us have ever been parents before. I was worried about bonding and attachment, and I was concerned that he would feel too much like someone else’s child for me to feel like a mother. And then we met him. We walked into the respite care home where he was staying. He’d just been dropped off and was still in his car seat. I lifted him out of the car seat and looked at him. In that moment I felt flooded with a love that I cannot explain or describe, but I’m going to venture to say that it’s the love all mothers feel for their children. It’s God-given and all encompassing.

We’re calling this darling boy Mason, and we’ve definitely grown quite attached to him. Thankfully, he’s grown quite attached to us as well. People often ask if this attachment is too hard or too scary. While it is hard and it is scary, what’s scarier to me is that fact that if Mason were not placed with us, he would have gone into a temporary placement or even a series of temporary placements until he was given a long-term home. The thought of an infant being bounced around from place to place without ever attaching is much harder and much scarier to me.            

As foster parents, attachment is our goal. Our job is to love the children placed with us so that they will learn how to bond and love and form healthy relationships. As parents and as Christians, we have the ability to heal from the pain of losing these children should they reunify. A child cannot heal from the pain of never feeling loved or attaching to a parent or caregiver. Furthermore, as Christians, we believe in the power of redemption, so reunification is not a bad thing or a “horror story,” as I’ve heard it described. Our goal is for children to not be orphaned at any point, and for them to feel love no matter where they are. 

Part of our decision to foster/adopt was based in our belief that God would give us the children we were supposed to have. We still believe that. Now, we don’t know if Mason will be our “forever” child or if we will be his “forever” family, but we do know that he’s ours to love right now and for that we are so thankful.