A Conversation with a Houston Foster Mom :: A Journey from Fostering to Adoption

A Conversation with a Houston Foster Mom :: A Journey from Fostering to Adoption | Houston Moms Blog

In honor of National Adoption Month, Houston-based foster mother, Amber, shares her experience in her journey to adopt. 

Describe your family before considering becoming a foster parent. What led you to consider being a foster parent?

I have always loved children and in my early twenties I had a life plan which included being married by 25 and having my first child by 26. However, when life played out, I found myself heartbroken and divorced at 25 years old. I remember getting Christmas cards that year with pictures of my cousin’s beautiful babies on the front and just sobbing while looking at them.  So, I decided that I should volunteer at the nursery at Ben Taub hospital once a week.  The nurses there taught me how to properly change a diaper as I had never done that before. I got to hold, sing to, and feed newborn babies at the hospital. That’s when I knew that I had a calling to become a foster mother. I prayed for a partner to come into my life who valued family life and also had a heart for children like me. I also knew that providing a stable home for a child was important and that included financial stability as well as emotional stability.  I spent several months getting out of debt and going to counseling to help heal after my divorce.  Then at the age of 27 I met my current husband.  I explained to him my desire to be a foster parent and get licensed but I don’t think he thought about the issue seriously until we got a call from a family friend whose 7 month old baby was removed by CPS.  We both agreed to petition the court to become kinship foster parents for that baby boy and that began our roller coaster ride with the administrative side of training and licensing with the state.

Tell us more about your foster parent training and the administrative side of becoming a foster parent.

In order to be a foster parent in Texas you have to be licensed by an agency.  The Department of Family Protective Services {DFPS} is also an agency that can license a home and family. We went directly through DFPS and attended the 30-hour PRIDE {Parent Resource for Information, Development, and Education} pre-service training program. After training certification, we submitted to FBI background checks, fingerprinting, home safety inspection, 10 years of tax returns, HVAC gas system inspection, and a home study. The process isn’t hard but it is time consuming due to dealing with a government agency.  The workers have weeks to approve or reject every item that you submit to become licensed.  It actually took us 13 months because during the process we moved to a new home and had to essentially start over with new inspections.

Tell us about your foster children and placements.

We have had 6 foster children so far including 2 infants, a 6 year old, a 7 year old, 11 year old, and a 15 year old. The reasons the children come into foster care are drug usage, neglectful supervision, and criminal behavior of the parents.  When they arrive they are anxious and scared.  The children who are old enough to talk ask how long they will be staying with us and want to call their Mom. I have to explain that they are going to stay with us temporarily while their parents have some time to go through training and counseling and that takes a long time.  I explain that even though they are staying with us that their Mommy and Daddy love them very much. If visitation is ordered, I will remind them that they will see their parents in X number of days. The infants are harder physically because they are small and can’t do anything without help. The older children are harder mentally because of the complex questions they ask and the emotions they experience due to the trauma of being separated from their parents.  As a foster parent I try to help their anxiety by explaining the situation in an age appropriate way and encourage the children to make new friends at their new school while they are staying with me. Every child is different, so I have to tailor my parenting and message differently for each child.  Foster care and adoption is messy and painful but also beautiful, just as life can be.  In a perfect world, all kids would get to stay with their parents or be reunified with their family but that isn’t a possible outcome in every case.

Tell us more about your family today.

Currently we have 3 sisters placed with us; the oldest 2 are undocumented immigrants.  The courts have terminated their parent’s rights so they are legally free for adoption once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services issues green cards for the big girls. We have asked to adopt all 3 sisters and currently are working with an adoption caseworker from DFPS.  I want all three girls to attend college and become productive members of society.  When it is safe, I would like for them to reconnect with their first family.  I have been telling them that the thing about love is that it multiplies the same way that one candle can light many candles. I tell them that their mother will always be their mother forever and nothing can change that.  I also explain that having more than one family means that there are more people who love you and care for you in your life’s journey, and that everyone has a story and parts of the story are painful and difficult but it ultimately builds who they are as adults.

A Conversation with a Houston Foster Mom :: A Journey from Fostering to Adoption | Houston Moms Blog

As a mother, how has your life changed through this process? How has your relationship with your husband changed?

As a mother, I have had to learn how to balance a career, care for a home and provide a safe, nurturing home for children. I have had to operate on very little sleep and had to put their needs ahead of my own. Motherhood has really forced me to grow up. My husband has had to adjust to having less of my time and my reduced amount of energy. Having children has been exhausting but also enjoyable. I notice that I have now been given the opportunity to fall in love with a part of him that I never got to know before we were married.  I now am able to see how he interacts with the girls and through his actions. He has taught me how to approach discipline differently than how I was raised. His kindness is what made me fall in love with him in the beginning, and his kindness to the children and to me on this life journey is what keeps me going. I can admit that I don’t have everything figured out with regards to being a Mom, but I am not afraid of trying until I get it right.

A Conversation with a Houston Foster Mom :: A Journey from Fostering to Adoption | Houston Moms Blog

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