When we were in the process of getting our foster care license, we always imagined adopting a sweet little baby. While we were getting ready, I spent hours sifting through second hand stores for adorable onesies and blankets. We got infant car seats and cribs and sleep sacks and formula. We were all set and ready to go.
It's been 7 months since we got our license in the mail. And, to our surprise, there haven't been any babies in our house. Instead, we have a 4 year old, a 9 year old, and a 11 year old. We never really anticipated taking in placements that old. It didn't even seem like an option. I was only 23 when we got licensed and it seemed strange to imagine taking in older kids. Our family would be biologically impossible (or at least close to it.)
But now that we have these kids. I couldn't imagine it any other way.
Older kids are the hardest to place. There is a huge need. When we got our license in December, we started getting the daily email lists of all the kids waiting at the office. It was easy to see that the biggest demographic was teens. It was only two months later that we had the home study guy come out again to check out our new bedroom, and bump up the age on our license to 14.
We became foster parents because we felt like we're able to provide a safe place for a child to call home, whether temporary or forever. Why only limit that to babies?
There's only a 13 year difference between me and my oldest foster son. But you know what? He doesn't care. At all. He's happy to have a home and to finally, after almost a year apart, live with his brother again. As foster parents, we don't need to be perfect. We just need to be there. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I'm winging this everyday. I gave my first sex talk the other night and absolutely butchered it. But I'm trying my best, and it's easy to see that these kids really, truly appreciate it. I can ramble on for hours about how amazing my two oldest kids are. They have been through so much in their short lives and their resiliency blows me away. They are so funny, and so helpful. They are caring, and sweet and are a tremendous help with our little one. They tell the most ridiculous knock knock jokes and their spontaneous dance parties keep me laughing every single day.
There are so many benefits of taking older placements. Way less diapers to change and butts to wipe. They sleep through the night, and their bedtime routines are SO much shorter. They're in school during the year, so it's a great fit if your family has working parents. They can communicate their feelings and actually try to sort out their past. It's not easy having to sit and listen to your kid recall what they went through before foster care, but it's also therapeutic for them to sort it all out. And it really provides me insight to what their life was like, and what resources I can try to provide to help them.
Once our kids cases get sorted out (whatever that may mean)- we're bumping up our license again to 18. We're open to whoever may come our way. Foster Care has been a wild ride. I never knew my heart was capable of feeling this much love. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have met my older kiddos and I'm so happy things didn't work out as we originally planned.
Sara is a 24 year old foster-to-adopt mom who lives in Seattle with her husband, Otis the bulldog, and her three foster kiddos (ages 4, 9, 11). She enjoys traveling, running, and connecting with other foster/adoptive parents. Follow her on Instagram.